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Make a frugal dollhouse

By on June 1, 2012

Little girls love dollhouses, but they can be pretty expensive to buy. Luckily, you can make your own at home with materials you probably already have. Shoeboxes and cardboard boxes will work well for short-term play. For something more durable, a bookcase can be the beginning of a great dollhouse. Each shelf can be a different room. Add wallpaper. You can draw or print pictures, or even cut out magazine photos of windows, rugs, plants, etc. and glue them on. Look around your home for supplies such as carpet remnants, fabric scraps or any empty food cartons that you could make into furniture.
The first reader tip has another suggestion:


DIY dollhouse:

My husband took all of the drawers out of a tall dresser and turned into a multi-level dollhouse for my niece. He did it about two years ago, and my sister says she still loves to play with it. — Jen, Ohio

Onion storage:

My husband and I have a large vegetable garden every year and we grow a lot of onions. We reuse nylon bags to hang our onions in our shop and garage. We have our own onions to use sometimes until Christmas. — Elizabeth L., email

Use butter/margarine wrappers:

I save the paper from margarine sticks in a coffee can in the fridge. When I need to grease a pan, I use the margarine paper. Works really well, and it’s free! — Karla C., email

Hot water when camping:

Fill empty, clean gallon milk jugs with water, put a black trash bag over the jugs and set them out in the sun to heat. If you need warm water to wash the dog, rinse off the kids’ feet or take a shower, buy a new, never-used black weed sprayer, fill it with water and set it in the sun. Don’t use for potable water, though. If we have power while camping, or we’re too lazy to light the water heater, we just use a two-gallon electric coffee urn I got at the thrift store for less than a dollar. — S.D., Minnesota

Dish liquid degreaser:

My husband has an 18-wheeler and he wears Carhartt overalls in the winter when he works on the truck. Last year, I took the overalls outside and wet them with the water hose, then squirted dishwashing liquid directly on the greasy spots. I then scrubbed the legs on the overalls with a relatively clean hand brush. I took them inside and washed them with regular detergent, and we were very surprised at how clean they came out. Not all of the stains were out, but they looked better than they had in a while. I was impressed, and the dishwashing liquid did not fade the color at all. — C. Maurer, forums

My top frugal living item:

I use a stockpot to dye my white socks and t-shirts, which look grungy due to hard water. I dye them any color in the rainbow using the on-the-burner stove method. — Larabelle, Texas

Reusable canning lids:

My mom found reusable Tattler lids at They work with pressure canning, water bath canning and vacuum sealing. At 58 to 66 cents apiece, these are going to save a lot of money over a lifetime of preserving food. They would pay for themselves by the fourth use. — Constance, New Jersey

Whiten toenails from dark polish:

Use whitening toothpaste for toes that get stained from dark nail polish. I used a nailbrush, but an old toothbrush would work. — Penny, forums

Take before it’s tossed:

I get free hand soap from a housekeeper at work who gives me the old soap dispenser bags when she has to put in the new ones. She restocks the dispensers at the end of my daytime shift to make sure there is enough soap for the nightshift. I saw her about to throw one of the pouches out and I told her I would take it home and pour it into my dispenser. She now saves all of them for me. I cut the corner off the pouch and use a funnel to pour it into a recycled bottle. — Leigh, Florida

photo by morgy

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