Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Deed Day- Wedding Towel Cake

Making little good deeds go a long way- A simple shower gift

Doing things that make other people happy is directly related to my own happiness. I cannot stop. The only thing that makes me happier than hearing my husband laugh is being responsible for making someone’s day brighter. I’ve been told I often do too much for other people, or go above and beyond for someone else that may or may not deserve it. Here is my selfish little secret- I’m actually doing it all for myself! I don’t get bitter, or at least try not to, when someone doesn’t appreciate a kind gesture or significant gift because in the end I still feel happy for having done it. Besides, about 90% of the gestures I do provide a creative outlet for me that I just do not get anywhere else. But alas, this post is not about appreciation for I know the good deed I am writing about today did not go unappreciated.

I don’t know how other peoples' minds work but I imagine that many people feel at times that they would like to do something nice for another person, but just don’t know what or how to make it happen. Maybe some people never even think about doing something for another person. I couldn’t tell you, I don’t know any of those people. I think of opportunities to do good deeds all the time, but I don’t always have the great idea to follow it up or the time or resources to make it happen.

One personal goal I would like to work on is finding ways to satisfy as many opportunities to make people smile as I can- regardless of resources. Mainly because I just cannot see how it would be possible to be a good housewife without first being a good person. Do not fret if you don’t feel that your mind works this way. I believe this is something we can train our brain to do automatically. Flex your good deed muscle and eventually it will start flexing itself!

My problem is when I identify an opportunity and develop a great idea I am reluctant to scale back if I do not have the time, money or materials to make it happen. I am relatively good about sticking to budgets when it is something I need/want, but when it comes to a gift for another person- forget about it! I almost always blow the budget on gifts. (Don’t even ask to see the budget breakdown on my husband’s surprise 30th birthday party!) But times, they are a changin’ and I’ll never reach my goal of stay-at-home-momdom if I don’t learn to approach this problem more creatively.

Creative Gift-Giving Problem-Solving #1: A bridal shower gift

Someone that I work with and see every day is getting married this summer. I am not friends with this person and not exactly coworkers, but she takes such good care of my coworkers and I in the dining hall we eat in everyday. She is young & in love and her and her fiancé make the most adorable googly-eyes at one another when he stops by to visit her. I can’t help but be reminded of how much I love my husband when I see them together which is an awesome distraction to the work day. Our engagements overlapped some so I feel a special bond with her over the few times we’ve chatted about our weddings. Plus, she’s a good person who I feel deserves to be treated.

So, I decided to do something special for her before their wedding.

Idea #1: Convert the entire staff dining hall into a bridal shower! Yes! I could come in early and decorate the room, take up a collection from everyone who eats there and shower her with gifts, and get the old retired men who for reasons unbeknownst to me still eat there every day to play shower games with us! (I won’t bother listing the various reasons why this plan got the axe.)

Idea #2: There are six women who eat at our lunch table almost every day and who think as fondly of this person as I do. I did some sleuthing and discovered where she was registered. If everyone at our table contributed $30 we could buy her all of the dishes she registered for. So, I sent out an email to everyone asking at what price point they wanted to contribute and turns out I was waaaay off. The general consensus was that everyone was more comfortable pitching in $10 towards the gift. As it turns out, that was a more realistic contribution for me as well and I’m glad the others spoke up and did not overextend themselves. Lesson learned: It’s okay to set limits and stick to them: a frugal sweet gesture is still a sweet gesture!

Idea #3: This is where I chose to see my half-off happy hour glass as half full and identify this new budget restriction as an opportunity to get creative. Now I was faced with how to use this budget to present a gift that was a little more special than “Here is a toaster.” Looking at her registry I needed to decide between one medium-sized gift or a bunch of lower-priced items. That’s when genius struck: Towel Wedding Cake!

I knew that this girl was moving out of her parents’ home soon and saw that no one had bought her any of the towels off her registry. For the $60 budget I could buy at least ¾ of the towels she requested. (Side bar: I refused to buy the $15 bath sheets she wanted. This girl weighs a good 100 pounds soaking wet. A standard size towel would wrap around her at least thrice and that would be sufficient, I decided.) I saw a Towel Wedding Cake on (Towel Cake Tutorial) awhile ago and attempted to make one for my cousin about a year ago. It didn’t work out so well because I waited until last minute and didn’t really follow directions. But I thought this project would be perfect for this gift because it was easy, didn’t require many additional supplies beside the towels (budget bonus!) and would look like something more special than a gift bag of towels (Wow factor!).

My Wedding Towel Cake

What do you think?? How did I do?

I did a little extra decorating with a $2 bunch of fake flowers from Michael's and some ribbon I had leftover from my own wedding projects, but it truly did not require much effort. I won’t walk you through step by step because a) I forgot to take photos along the way and b) does a great job at that already. I will give you a few tips though. Use large safety pins: the towel fabric is thick when rolled up and you’ll poke yourself many times if the safety pins are too small. (I speak from personal experience). I also poked a few wooden BBQ skewers through the center of the towels to hold the three layers together. This just made it easier to transport.

I hope I gave you something to think about or inspired you to do a good deed for someone soon. I’ll write more ideas of little (and big) ways to frugally make people smile as I think of them!

Here are links to the products you'd need to create a Wedding Towel Cake of your own:

This towel set has 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels and 2 washcloths- enough to make a small wedding towel cake. I used 4 bath towels, 4 handtowels and 6 washclothes on the one pictured above. I also used the towels colors the bride registered for but I've seen people make them in all white, to look more like a wedding cake. (This towel set is offered in colors other than blue, including white.) If doing that I would decorate the towels with flowers in the bride's wedding colors for a personalized touch.

I am loving this deal at 58% off people! 100% Egyptian Cotton! Free Super Saver Shipping! All for $4 a towel- can't beat that! (Prices listed as of posting)

Safety Pins, nothing too exciting here. But once again, Free Super Saver Shipping!

You can decorate the cake with whatever you'd like. I chose to just use small silk flower stems, but I've also seen towel cakes with kitchen utensils stick down into the folds of the towel layers. Take a look at the bride's registry & get creative.

How cute would this ribbon be for a bridal shower gift?? Love Martha's craft supplies! Once again... Free Super Saver Shipping!

Total cost of towel cake with these supplies: $36.50!

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