18 April 2008

Fun Activity and Birthday Gift all in One!

Not long ago, my boys were invited to a "Dream Come True" party (a birthday party for 3 sisters who all had birthdays within a week and a half). Since we don't budget for friend's birthday presents, we usually try to come up with something that's inexpensive, fun, and hopefully homemade. One time I made a girl's apron and homemade play-dough. From that time on, the "standard birthday gift" has evolved into making a batch of homemade play-dough, adding a couple of cookie stamps or cookie cutters, and a recipe card with instructions to make more in the future.

A friend of mine gave me a bag full of cookie cutters and cookie stamps that, unfortunately, I never use. Among the selection was a great big birthday cake that says "Happy Birthday." This one we keep and use every time, because each "loaf" of play-dough gets stamped with it before it goes in the plastic zipper bag to then be wrapped.

For the three sisters, we also wrapped a shoe box and lid so that the new play-dough would have a pretty place to be stored when it wasn't being used. (I wish I had taken a photo of it fully wrapped; it turned out very pretty! I re-cycled a pretty gift bag to use for the wrapping paper.) I forgot to include a recipe card this time, but I'll share it here. The recipe came from a church cookbook, "The Mixing Bowl Recipe Book Grace Chapel." Recipe was submitted by Kris Hubbard.



2 cups flour
1 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 cup salt
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 cups cold water
1 tsp food coloring (use only enough to achieve desired color)


Mix all and cook over low/medium heat stirring constantly. Dough will come together in a ball--remove from heat. Cool for 5-8 minutes and knead until smooth. Store in air tight container.

Merrilee's Tip: Don't try to speed up the process by using warm or hot water. The end result is that the dough comes together too fast and you can end up with lumps that didn't get any color in them.

Not only was it easy and inexpensive to make, but my kids had fun making it as well! Do you have any frugal gift ideas that you want to share? Leave your comments here or join in with so many others for Frugal Friday over at Biblical Womanhood.


  1. This is such a creative idea. We don't budget for friend's Birthday gifts either. I love it when people can create something neat out of the things that they have.

  2. great idea! my mom always made our play dough, but i love the idea of stamping it "happy birthday!" i'm definitely going to do this in the future!

  3. Adding kool-aid gives it a nice smell.