Fun, Creative and Budget-Friendly DIY Activities for the Whole Family


If you are running out of ideas on how to entertain the kids during their free time, we have the perfect children's activity that will not only entertain, challenge and educate but also be a fun bonding time for the whole family!

Over the last few months, quarantine and social distancing has tested our patience, motivation and our imagination here at Tolmee. We usually spend the summer and fall seeing friends and family, or travelling to places near and far. Without these escapes and the concern of virtual and hybrid learning, our family needed to keep everyone entertained and divert pent up energy towards something productive and creative.

A few years ago in Spetses, a beautiful island in Greece, we were walking by a quaint restaurant and noticed the most colorful array of flower pots. Looking at them up close we realized they had reused empty olive oil tins, painted them with lively colors and repurposed them as planters.

This memory and the empty olive oil tins we had in our shed inspired us to create an activity that would entertain us and the kids alike. Using various materials from around the house and with limited spending, we have enjoyed painting just about anything. We started with the tins and moved on to empty cans, clay pots and any other items that could be reused instead of being thrown out.
We just finished our last olive oil tin and completed a set of beautiful planters that now adorn our stairs. With the leftover paint, our kids quickly polished off a couple of cans of biscuits because they did not want to waste paint...great excuse to eat biscuits :) You can purchase olive oil in tins at most markets these days. We purchase ours from the International Greek Market located in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood. They have a wonderful selection of products that you can purchase either online or by visiting their beautiful store.  

For paint, we purchased red, green, blue, yellow and white oil-based paint. This gave the kids a chance to use their skills and mix paint to create additional colors. We bought inexpensive paint brushes and used items such as qtips and straws to apply final touches. My daughter also took out her most recent favorite accessory, the glue gun, to further bedazzled her tin.

The instructions are simple:

  • Select the containers you wish to use. We have used cans from olive oil, tomato sauce, tuna as well as clay pots. You can use any container you have laying around. If using a tin can, use a can opener to remove the top (once the top has been removed, use a small hammer to smooth out any rough edges that may remain from the opening).
  • Wash and dry your containers.
  • If you plan to repurpose as a planter, make sure the container has drainage holes (we used a small hammer and a thick nail to hammer 5 or 6 holes at the bottom of the tin cans).
  • For aluminum cans that will remain outside, we sprayed the inside with Rust-oleum Protective Enamel Spray Paint to limit rusting.
  • We covered our table with layers of paper bags, put on our gloves and poured paint in the middle of the table where we could mix and match (we used Rust-oleum Protective Enamel Brush-On Paint).
  • Finally, we each let our imagination go free! No rules. Each one had a container to paint and their creativity to guide them.


This project was as fun as it was educational. With limited spending, it occupied the kids for a few hours over a few days, provided family bonding time, an imaginative escape and an excellent way to let our creativity roam. It also helped emphasize to our children the importance of eliminating waste and reusing materials.

If you are looking for additional ways to entertain the family, check out our thoughts on a Fun Family Game Night, our “how to” blog post on Bullet Journaling and our DIY tutorial on an ancient Greek board game, Petteia, perfect for teenagers. 

As our Tolmee team continues to work with artists that believe fashion should be sustainable, we have to practice what we preach. Before you throw something away, think about possible uses and reuses. Repurposing items you have on hand saves money and creates less waste, something we should all strive for.

Here are some simple tips to help you draw your own inspiration and live more sustainably:

  • Empty egg cartons can be reused to hold paints separate and give each person their own paint palette.
  • An empty can of tuna can be repurposed into a small catch-all tray for coins or keys.
  • Reuse empty cans from beans or tomato sauce into holders for pens, utensils or flowers.
  • Twigs from the yard can be sanded down and made into a beautiful arrangement, a wreath or held together with simple wire to make a trivet.
  • When shopping, choose products with the least amount of plastic packaging.
  • Newspapers and paper bags make for imaginative wrapping paper and are great for coloring or making book protectors.
  • Limit use of toxic pesticides by planting mint or scattering citrus peels around your home (pests dislike both and will avoid them).

ANY small changes we make DO have a large impact. Every time we choose to repurpose something instead of throwing it away, we offer ourselves an infinite amount of possibilities to be creative and live sustainably.

We’ve been at this for a few weeks now and proud to display the fruits of our labor. Have fun, stretch your imagination and enjoy each day!

Be Bold. Be Kind. Be Tolmee.

 

 

 

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