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Easy Steps to a Fantastic Art Party for Kids Without Overspending

When I added up what the basic budget would look like for Reina’s Art Party I almost choked. Most bigger canvases and easels would run $20 + for 1 set. Yikes!

I knew there had to be a way to offer nice sized canvases and a fun painting activity to the kids without spending around $500 for this part of the party alone.

After a lot of research, I found the value multi-pack canvases at Hobby Lobby for only $9.99! I wanted the 16 x 20 size which is a set of 5, but if you’re willing to use smaller sizes then they’re $9.99 for sets of 7. They saved us around $150-$200 over what similar canvases cost through other stores.

You can either buy easels, look on Pinterest for DIY easels or do what we did: added small hinges and flat dowels to the center back of the canvas. Again, it’s a matter of time vs. money on this one. I couldn’t find decent easels that would hold up to Kindergarten enthusiasm for less than $9 each. Instead, we spent less than $5 total because we re-purposed some wood that we already had. Even if you needed to buy the wood dowels, I’m 99% sure you’ll still save a ton with our DIY tips.

Exact DIY is as follows:

  • Cut flat dowels the same length as your art canvas (or get them to do this at Home Depot for you—keep in mind this takes a while usually and you have to wait while they do it).
  • We chose square dowels and drilled through the bottom (see below) so that the stand limiter string can go through it; you could skip this and simple loop the string around the dowel and tie it securely.
  • Place a small hinge on the canvas in the top center, mark drill holes and drill holes into the canvas.
  • Attach a small hinge to the dowel and then line up the holes on the other side of the hinge to the drill holes on the canvas. 
  • Attach the dowel and hinge with screws to the canvas.
  • Stand up the canvas with the dowel as a kickstand.
  • Measure string from the bottom side of the canvas around the outside of the dowel over to the opposite bottom side of the canvas, then add around 3” to that length and cut. Use this string as a guide and cut enough strings for each canvas.
  • You can either attach each side of the string with a staple gun or use thumbtacks like we did. The string will keep the canvases from blowing over or being knocked flat by the kids.

Other supplies you’ll need are:

  • Aprons. Careful shopping led me to a set of 24 for $ 14.99 (note: I found a huge difference in quality/price on these from clear thin kids aprons up to lovely canvas styles that you could give as favors if you wanted to)
  • Paint (note: tempera is best for little kids as it’s washable but we opted for a set of 12 acrylic bottles to get a better range of color)
  • Brushes. I found kids used a variety of sizes and styles but the most popular was this set of 20 for $12. I offered them along with some thinner detail brushes and a few wider foam ones
  • Plastic table clothes or for an authentic feel get canvas drop clothes from paint stores
  • If painting inside, but sure to use drop clothes on your floor.
  • Cleaning bucket filled with water for dirty brushes

Logistics involved:

  • Pre-set the canvases up with a plastic palate next to each one, but don’t pre-pour the paint since it’s hard to predict exactly how long it’ll be sitting out.
  • Also set out 2-3 paint brushes at each station.
  • Get at least 2 other adults if you’ve got a big crowd to help you. There were 4 adults total helping with this at our party.
  • Announce to the kids that the Studio is ‘open’ and have a couple of adults tying on aprons and sending them off to a painting station.
  • Once the kids are ready to paint, each adult grabs two colors and walks around and asks the kids if they’d like their colors on the paint palate.
  • Variation: if you don’t have a lot of helpers you could pre-fill the palates but we found that many kids only wanted 2-3 colors so we would have wasted a ton of paint.
  • After the kids are finished, place them along with their goodie bag so folks can grab them as they leave.
  • Tip: be sure to do this early enough in the party timeline so that the paint dries 😉

All photos by Marla Smith

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