For most people, the local dollar shop is perfect for purchasing household essentials at cheap prices, and keeping expenses under budgets. But these budget retailers aren't just great for cleaning supplies and food—they offer up a rich supply of art materials to keep teachers, parents, children and other crafters busy with creative projects.

From pom poms and fabric to beads and glass marbles, dollar stores are filled with craft inspiration. Grab your glue gun, and keep these tips in mind as you hunt for your next thrifty project idea.

  • Dollar stores can vary. It pays to shop around at more than one dollar shop, as the inventory can vary from store to store. That being said, most dollar stores carry the materials described below. Inventory at budget retailers such as Dollar Tree often varies by season, so if you want to stock up for a specific holiday such as Halloween, Christmas, or Easter, head to your local dollar stoe just before those seasonal dates.
  • Year-round supplies. Some year-round dollar shop supplies include useful crafting items like stickers, rubber bands, beads, feathers, pom poms, pipe cleaners, ribbon, google eyes, craft popsicle sticks, construction paper, glue, glue sticks, scissors, pens, pencils, crayons, markers, craft paints, play dough, glitter, foam shapes and foam sheets, and more. Since everything costs $1 or less, you won’t be breaking the bank to buy a lot of crafting supplies at once!

You've Got the Basics: What Next?

  • If your child goes gaga for foam stickers, pick up some foam shaped door knob hangers or foam visors for her to decorate with glitter glue and pom poms.
  • Buy beads, ribbon, and shells to make fun jewelry, and use artificial flowers, garden moss, river rocks and green foam blocks or green foam wreaths (all also available at dollar stores) to create miniature gardens or wreaths.
  • Let your little crafter decorate plain color paper gift bags with glitter paints, markers, crayons, and stickers to personalize gift bags.
  • Buy clay flower pots (one large pot or three small ones for $1) and acrylic paints and let your kid personalize these adorable plant-holders for desk decor, to spruce up her bedroom, or add a personal touch to the front porch.
  • If you can find plain white porcelain figurines such as piggy banks, encourage your tiny artist to add her own artistic touch to them with acrylic paints, permanent marker or other accoutrements.
  • Pick up a package of cheap cosmetic brushes and let your child experiment with them as paint brushes; the varying sizes and brush hairs will add a textured element to her results, compared to normal paint brushes.

Thrifty Creativity

Many of the activities here at use materials that can all be purchased at your local dollar shop. Get festive with the Mexican Tin Mirror using an aluminum baking tin, a small mirror, glue, and markers; or help your child tell time with this Clock Craft. The tissue and pipe cleanres for this summer-friendly Tissue Paper Bouquet can also be bought at your local budget retailer.

If your little one loves to don brightly-colored nail polish, purchase a few different colors that correspond with an upcoming holiday, such as red, while and blue. Help your budding fashionista apply the lacquer, painting each nail a different hue or combining them to create fun patterns for Independence Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day, or just for patriotic fun!

From the kitchen section of a dollar shop, pick up spices in clear glass or plastic containers. After you've used them, recycle the empty spice containers for crafts, such as making your own bubble soap. Simply mix together 1/2 cup dishwashing liquid, 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons of sugar (all available from the budget retailer) and use an old bubble blowing wand for a DIY game of bubble blowing.

Some dollar shops sell a package of Garage Sale Stickers for $1.00. This packet contains stickers on colorful dots with the following prices listed: 10₵, 25₵, 50₵, 75₵, $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, and $20. There are several stickers for each monetary amount. Use the stickers to create math problems in adding or subtracting money for your child! Or let your budding mathematician create his own number problems. This will be a fun, new way for him to practice money math; It’s all about saving money at the dollar store!