Ballin’ on a Budget

Amping up school supplies without shelling out the big bucks

More stories from Rebecca Mennecke

Since I was a kid, I’ve had a thing for school supplies. New pens, papers, pretty folders and notebooks were about the only thing that got me excited for a new school year. Every Christmas, fancy notebooks would be at the top of my list. However, the notebooks get crinkled up look dumpy by the middle of the academic year. So what does one do with these grungy old notebooks?

Nicer-looking notebooks and planners are more expensive than necessary. It’s $20 for a planner I’m only going to use every other week, $8 for a hard-cover notebook that won’t get all wrinkled in my crammed-full backpack. I don’t have the money for that. There’s the option of buying cheap notebooks, but then there’s that chance they get all messed up again.

I have the perfect solution: decorate those out-of-shape notebooks.

It’s simple, really. The only things absolutely, positively necessary to have are a notebook, one sheet of 12 by 12 scrapbooking paper and some form of tape or glue. Everything else can be scrounged up around campus!

My advice for buying scrapbooking paper is never buy it unless there’s a great 60% off coupon or it’s on sale. JoAnn Fabrics usually has some fairly good deals to keep an eye out for, but Hobby Lobby is a great one-stop shop for literally any paper one could possibly think of having. My personal favorite is the glitter paper, which they have in every color imaginable.

The first step of this do-it-yourself adventure is to cover a notebook with scrapbooking paper. Glue or tape will suffice, but I’m a little bit picky about how I like to tape up my notebooks, so I use a Tombow Mono Permanent Adhesive tape runner. These are really slick in the scrapbooking world, as they get in the little odd nooks and crannies.

Once the cover of your notebook is complete, the rest is up to the artist’s discretion. I usually like to just leave mine with a simple cover, but some might like a more collage-like work of art or some artistic additions. Magazines and newspapers are a great way to start in order to create a masterpiece.

The Flipside, The Spectator, Volume One and NOTA are always lying around campus, free to use. So, after students are finished reading the hard work from the writers, they can begin cutting things out, like the pictures and graphics.

Cut out pictures and text and organize it on a notebook in a way that looks pleasing. I always like to get inspiration from Tumblr or Pinterest — or even a simple Google search. The inspiration for notebook-decorating is not hard to find. Some people who are more artistic than I am may enjoy using watercolor paints to spice up the front of a notebook. It’s always worth a try!

If the notebook doesn’t turn out quite right, just tear off the cover and start again. It’s foolproof, really.

All I can say is, happy crafting!

Mennecke can be contacted at [email protected].