Introduction: Navagating a Dollar Store for Instructables Hacks!

About: I enjoy cutting and pasting things. I'm a library assistant at the local community college. I like to read, history and historical fiction are my favorite genera. I'm a lone, funkified, kind, random, caff…

Of course browsing dollar stores isn't entirely new to many Instructables users - but maybe you have never entered to one of these budget friendly places for supplies.

This is the Instructable for you!

Did you see something on Instructables or Pinterest you wanted to try yourself?

Did you want to experiment with creating your own hack?

Do you need to wander around looking for inspiration for something to create, but are on a budget?

Try things out with dollar store goods first!

Or maybe last!

Sometimes it just simply doesn't matter where you get the materials! (I love those best!)

I am often amazed at what I can do with a little creativity and some dollar store goods when I have the itch to create something or try out something new.

But be warned! Even these things add up, and sometimes can create a lot of clutter around the house!

I normally try to have a project in mind when hitting up the dollar store. I find it is a lot like going to a grocery store when you are hungry - when you just want to make SOMETHING and happen into a dollar store... you can wind up with a lot of stuff you don't ever use!

Of course items you find in a dollar store vary from season, store chain, region, to even neighborhood. They get cheap items in lots that they distribute according to regional marketing demographic numbers, and sometimes when things are out, they are out for good... and sometimes you can buy things online in lots from a dollar store like Dollar Tree! This is useful when planning a big project or event (like when I needed to buy a case of 24 packs of Kid's Activity Dough for an icebreaker at an event I chaired.)

And sometimes, of course, you can find something at the dollar store for $1.00 that you could have found at Target for $1.00 or WalMart for 87¢. And if you are patient you can shop a Goodwill Outlet store (an experience unto itself*) where you can get things BY THE POUND - but overall the dollar store has some pretty standard items always in stock.

Step 1: *Nearly Getting Kicked Out of the Austin Goodwill Outlet

*I almost got THROWN OUT of the Austin Goodwill Blue Hanger Outlet I went to - FOR TAKING PHOTOS!

I had to delete my photos all from my camera - but you can find some online if you Google Images it, or check out this article:"We Shopped The Goodwill Warehouse Outlet And You Won't Believe What We Found" on The Huffington Post. A friend made me this "merit badge" for the experience.

I have friends who have come up with several theories of why I was nearly kicked out (it wasn't posted anywhere to not take photos) but I figured they had their reasons AND I wanted to keep my haul, so I deleted the video and photos. I just found it all fascinating. Plus... I could be doing an Instructable of Goodwill Outlet finds! But alas... it was not meant to be.

At least you don't have to bleach wash all the new dollar store things.


Of course it depends on the time of year - but these things came into my Dollar Tree with the Valentine's Day stuff - getting ready for spring!

I found little starter kits for spring flowers and herbs - very cool!

What are some of the Instructables you can make with these?

A few gardening related Instructables that you could use these supplies with:

And others:


Frames! Frames are great for lots of fun projects!

You can recover a cheap frame, put pretty paper behind the glass and use it as a dry erase board (get dry erase markers on another aisle,) or use the glass in more glass etching projects!

I even found mirrors here so I could try out a glass etched mirror idea on the cheap - but they did have an odd thin clear plastic layer that maybe made it more difficult, but it was really just to test the etching cream. So just be sure your cheap materials are useful for your projects!

What Instructables can you make with frames?

Glass things! These are just a few glass things you can find in a dollar store!

Want to try out etching glass?

I'm not sure how sturdy of a grade of glass you can find in a dollar store, some things may work that are thicker - for pressure etched projects.

Other techniques to try on glass:

Other glass Instructables projects you can try with dollar store glass finds:

Step 4: Toys! So Many Things You Can Do With Cheap TOYS!

Sometimes I find name-brand characters (maybe very TINY - but still!) and sometimes the parts are just great to play with.

Stuffed animals that you don't mind modifying for your needs!

I've found LOTS of things for a photo booth in the dollar store: feather boas, mustaches, wrapping paper, party streamers, vinyl tablecloths, and bamboo skewers (cut off ends and affix glasses and mustaches and hats... wrap end in colored duct tape.)

Instructables on Plastic/Vinyl Toy Hacks:

Stuffed Animal Instructable Hacks:

Photo Booth Instructable (also in this contest! vote for it!):

Your Own PhotoBooth Corner by SonikaJAnand

Step 5: So Many Things for CRAFT PROJECTS!

Glues and glitters and foam board and little pom poms and craft foam and puzzle pieces to alter...

The only thing stopping you is your imagination!

Check out my Tardis Wreath Instructable - though I used a wire form in that Instructable, the wreath pictured in this one I used a dollar store 9" foam wreath. Click on the wreath photo above to all the things I got from Dollar Tree! Great place for things you just will paint anyway.

Some Awesome Instructables using GLITTER!

Okay, I could post about three dozen more of those. Search glitter in the "Let's Make" bar!

Other beautiful craft Instructables you can use some of these dollar store finds for:

Step 6: Don't Forget Somewhere to STORE All of Your Stuff!

Storage! For things great and small, you need storage so things don't clutter up everywhere and you can find things easily.

Cheap kits using the shoe-box sized containers are great for workshops or kid's crafts. I've created clean-up kits for hospitality events using a dollar store bucket, rubber gloves, sponges, spray cleaner, cleaning wipes, dish towels and a small bottle of liquid dish soap. These are great to have in different areas for quick clean up messes!

Some Kit Instructables (use a dollar store container and fill with these ideas, some of the things you can get at a dollar store!)

Some Altered/Decorated Journal Instructables (for the composition notebooks)

Step 7: Tools and Night Lights and All SORTS OF STUFF!

Cheap tools for trying a project before you commit, paint brushes and rollers, eye protection and ear plugs!

Cheap batteries and night lights to alter and Sharpies and solar stakes and LED Lights and reading glasses!

Table cloths and vinyl table cloths and paint tarps - for cheap fabrics or drop cloths (protection from getting glitter and paint everywhere!)

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea!

Go to your local dollar store and see what they have that you can use first when making a new project! You may be surprised at what little parts you can find and save big on!

I think one of my favorites finds was discovering strands of 10 LED lights in December. They had little green trees or stars on them, that popped off (okay... fell off is more like it) and revealed plain white lights. The whole strand was the same basic type I got from Ikea for $5.00 each. Perfect for gluing to my gift wreaths!

And PLEASE continue to share you dollar store/thrift store hacks on Instructables! I really love reading them and trying them,

if you can't tell!

See what other people are doing with dollar store items:

Cheap fun at $ store by aaahotdog (dismantle the solar stake and use as a night light - charge during the day)

Searching "dollar store" in the "Let's Make" search

On a Budget Contest

Third Prize in the
On a Budget Contest