Last week I received an email with a request for free products. It was sent from a woman who is currently unemployed, a mom whose daughter is celebrating a birthday soon. “I want so much for my daughter that I am financially unable to afford,” she told me.

This kind of message really makes me sad, not just because it’s one of several (I’ve received more emails like this in the past few months than ever before) but because my company is so small that I simply can’t donate products to all of those who request them. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and wondering how many people are in the same boat. How many of us are pinching pennies? What choices are we making in order to save money? And how can I possibly help?

I know that one of the ways I try to save money is by making things myself. DIY for weddings and parties has become more popular in the past few years partly because many of us are watching our wallets. I started wondering what kinds of party decorations (and yes, favors) I could make from inexpensive items at my local grocery, dollar store, or craft store. And when I visited my own local craft store today, I discovered that March is National Craft Month. Perfect!

So all month long I’m going to share some ideas for cheap party favors and custom tags (and by cheap I mean inexpensive, not low quality!). These will be cute (I promise) and simple to make from materials you’ll be able to find wherever you are. If you’re still interested in my favors after you see all the fun stuff you can make for yourself, I’ll also be offering a giveaway in March. I’m giving away party favor lip balms; everyone will have a chance to win a set of these personalized favors. Keep watching for details right here at the blog.

Lots of craft stores are offering sales and classes throughout March to celebrate National Craft Month. I found printable coupons for Jo-Ann, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby, but check your local store for their sales. The items I found on sale were ribbons, lollipop sticks (I recommend the extra long ones), and patterned paper stacks. We’ll be using these items in some of the upcoming projects. I also recommend looking at the Easter candy and decorations that are everywhere right now. Candies in pastel colors match lots of party themes and many can be frozen for parties long after Easter. You’ll also find colorful containers and packaging materials (Easter grass, tissue paper) that will come in handy when you’re assembling your gifts and decorations. And at the dollar store, don’t forget the balloons! All sizes, too…even tiny water balloons, we’ll be using those for a project!

I know this isn’t the same as sending everyone free stuff, but I hope that some of you will find this helpful! I’m looking forward to coming up with some creative ways to put together fun parties without big budgets. What do you think? How do you save money when you throw a party? Please share any of your thoughts in the comments below! (And stay tuned for more information about our Party Favor Giveaway.)