A Few Creative Ways to Decorate

Most walls are a blank canvas just begging to be used, but that’s easier said than done.  For one thing, artwork can be incredibly expensive, especially the larger pieces.  For another, it takes a lot of creative vision.  The internet is just brimming with DIY tutorials for stunning artwork (you would be surprised how many of them use cardboard boxes!).  Here are just a few:

  • Whoever said that wall décor had to be pictures and paintings? Not I, says the person who can’t paint so save her life and has no photography skills whatsoever.  The alternative is buying a large canvas from your local craft store (Michael’s and Hobby Lobby have theirs on sale most of the time, or there are always coupons for both places).  Then, paint song lyrics on your favorite poem in your own handwriting!  Cursive looks the coolest, in my opinion.


  • One of my favorite DIY art pieces is a hanging fringe tapestry. All you need are some dowel rods, some string to hang the tapestry, and some colorful string to make the fringe with.  Make a rope ladder type design with the dowel rods, and then hang the fringe in different lengths and spots along the dowels.  Cut triangles into the fringe when you are done to add extra dimensions.
  • Do you have a lot of cardboard boxes laying around? Cut out varying sizes of squares and lay them overtop of each other to make a geometric, 3D mosaic.  Spray paint whatever color you want and no one would ever be able to tell this magnificent piece’s humble beginnings.


  • Making artwork can be as simple as grabbing paint swatches from your local hardware store and using them to make “modern art”. You can overlay it with some big block letters that say something, or just leave it plain.
  • Tissue paper pomp oms can be made in all shapes and styles, and they look seriously cool. The most amazing way I saw of these being used was an enormous overhanging of them in, no two the same, covering a large portion of the tallest wall in the house.
  • Mentioning cardboard boxes again, you can make anything from lamps to deer heads to bookshelves with these! Type in “cardboard art projects” and you will have enough options to last you a lifetime.


  • Finally, you can do anything with photographs! And the awesome thing is that you can get large photos printed at stores like Target or Wal-Mart, and even get them done online and shipped to your house, too.  Print them black and white and then embellish using nail polish or paper flowers.



Simple Tips For Saving on Shipping

  • Join an association to get discounts from major shipping carriers. For example, if your business is a member of Green America (a nonprofit devoted to ethical consumerism), you could get a discount from a major carrier like FedEx.  Call your preferred carrier to see what associations they partner with.
  • Be as accurate as possible when weighing and measuring. This way the customer isn’t being overcharged for shipping, or undercharged, resulting in you having to eat the difference.
  • Purchase your shipping labels, shipping boxes, packaging tape, etc. online, in bulk, and in advance. This saves a significant amount of money, compared to buying the supplies over the counter at the post office.
  • Using USPS Priority Mail shipping boxes is also a great way to save money. The shipping time is fast, and the weight limit is 15 pounds, which should accommodate quite a bit for an average online retailer.
  • Reuse the shipping boxes that your inventory comes in. Also, try asking your local newspaper for unusable paper that you can use as packaging.  Some cardboard manufacturers sell scraps that you can also use for packaging.
  • Speak to your carrier service about getting a discount, which will probably be more the more that you are using them. If you are shipping often, than you shouldn’t be paying standard shipping rates.  Don’t be afraid to negotiate!
  • On the other hand, it might be helpful to split carriers. Find which carrier offers the best prices for heavy packages (like FedEx), and which works best for the lighter packages (like the United States Postal Service).


  • Using sites like Stamps.com can save you tons of money on postage.
  • Using an order management system can automatically determine which carrier will be the best option for what you are sending. There are even warehousing and shipping companies that will do the same thing and then package and ship your item for you directly from your warehouse.
  • Some online business websites, like Etsy, offer you the option of printing out your shipping labels directly from their site. This usually saves a lot on postage compared to the post office, and it even sends out a tracking number to customers so that you can mail your packages at any time, regardless of whether or not the post office is open.
  • For drop shippers, ask your manufacturer to ship your product from your account, otherwise they will probably inflate the shipping costs.

In the end, there is no magic rule for how to save money on shipping.  Some will recommend you use multiple carriers, some will recommend that you stick to one.  However, some of the recurring tips are these: weigh and measure each package to get accurate shipping costs, buy shipping supplies in bulk and ahead of time, and pay attention!

Five Tips for Moving on a Budget

Moving on a budget seems like a bad joke that someone made at an awkward party.  It seems like something that you snort about and then have to apologize because you realize that the other person was being serious.  Well, I’m here to tell you that moving on a budget is totally feasible, and even encouraged!


There are so many different options and strategies for saving as much money as possible (to include finding cheap moving boxes, cheap moving help, and simply how to maximize your resources).  Here are just five of them that should get you well on your way to moving on a budget:

ONE: it’s not always cheapest to do your own move.  Compare quotes from several different movers, keeping in mind that the moving off season is usually the fall and winter, when their moving prices should be lower.  Also, most people don’t know that you can negotiate with a moving company to get the best price.

TWO: did you know that you don’t have to buy boxes?  Cheap moving boxes are just as much a reality as moving on a budget (and a crucial part of the whole shebang).  I once read that “moving boxes are the building blocks of moving” and I think that sums it up perfectly.  There are SO many options for obtaining free boxes that there is no need to spend exorbitant prices.  Search behind department stores for discard boxes, search Craigslist and FreeCycle for free boxes.  Worst comes to worst, you can find cheap moving boxes through online, wholesale retailers.

THREE: shut off some of your services early.  You don’t need cable that last month before you leave, anyway!  You should be spending your time packing and prepping for a garage sale, which is an awesome way to actually MAKE money during a move.  There are also some services like Utilities Concierge that help you find the best prices on utilities where you are moving.


FOUR: Did you notice that I mentioned a garage sale?  Going through all of your belongings and purging  is a great idea in more ways than one.  You can actually earn money at a garage sale, you can get a tax deduction if you donate, and you are also reducing the overall weight of what you are trying to move, which will save you money in the actual moving process.

FIVE: You can actually pay the USPS to ship your books, thereby saving yourself money on weight, once again.  Also, save all of your receipts.  Every last one of them.  You might be able to deduct the move from your taxes if you qualify.  Onc last helpful hint: coffee filters are a super cheap, super awesome material to protect your breakable a with.

10 Tips for Better Packaging

Don’t underestimate the importance of packaging!  How cool would it be to walk by some shelves at the store and see your very own product sitting on the shelves?  However, just having a clever and creative idea for packaging supplies isn’t good enough.


The product needs to be marketed well and handled effectively or it’s not going to make it.  Here are 10 tips to help you get there:

  1. Work smart by having a good cutter guide. What makes a good cutter guide?  A good cutter guide will have the right size, all the folds, the trim and bleed will be specified, areas that need glue or sealant will be clearly marked, and the location of the barcode will be indicated.
  2. If you are designing your own cutter guide, don’t make promises before you find out if it’s even possible.
  3. Use 3D computer programs to help you visualize the finished packaging supplies before you spend and money on making them and having them turn out poorly due to poor and ineffective design.
  4. Use symbols so that you don’t have to constantly recreate the same paths and designs all the time. You can share your symbols library with other designers or reload it whenever you want to.
  5. Once again, find out how your symbols are going to look by using your 3D computer program. This quick preview is a very good idea for label design!
  6. Designing packaging supplies has been revolutionized by 3D programs! I’ve already mentioned a 3D visual of the finished product, a 3D visual of what your symbols are going to look like on the product, and there are even 3D programs where you can indicate the cut and fold lines and see a 3D version of your folded and unfolded packaging.
  7. Using artboards helps in the process of designing cutter guides and will allow you to save your artwork to files on your computer.
  8. Ever heard of Esko and DeskPack? Esko is a manufacturer that specializes in packaging supplies, and DeskPack is a collection of tools, consisting of many different plug-ins, that a packaging designer is going to appreciate.
  9. Creating bleed is necessary but not necessarily easy, especially depending on the shape you are trying to work with. The offset path in your program helps by simplifying this process.
  10. There is a specific Package command in certain Illustrator programs, and it will make your life a whole lot simpler. This makes sense since it is specific to packaging design.