Arts and crafts without the mess


Kids love art projects and making crafts. It is good for their creativity, imagination and I’m sure a million other things. But sometimes having to clean up one more mess is just too much for me!

I really do love giving my kids the freedom to engage and be creative in the projects they are interested in, but I need to find ways to do it without my house becoming a disaster in the process. These are some tips that have worked really well in our house.

Cover the table

I often buy large rolls of wrapping paper when it is on sale after the Christmas holiday. I then use it to cover my table before painting or doing another very messy craft. When we’re done, I just wrap it up and throw it away, and it looks like no mess ever happened. I also sometimes use a cheap vinyl picnic tablecloth for the same purpose, which I can quickly wipe down and save for next time.

Paint shirts

My very favorite way to make paint shirts for my kids is to use a men’s button-down shirt. Put the shirt on backward and fasten the top button to keep it in place. It covers much of their body so I am never worried about them getting paint on their clothes. If you have a baby or toddler, use a children’s button-down shirt a few sizes bigger than they are. I have used my husband’s old shirts or picked some up at a thrift store.


Keep wipes handy

Before your kids start a project, have wipes or a wet cloth on the table, ready to clean up messes before they even happen. It is never fun to try getting a cloth ready while also trying to make sure your toddler doesn’t touch anything with his paint-covered hands.


Limit it to a few supplies at a time

Instead of putting out all the craft supplies you have, start with just one or two items. Don’t give your kid a bag of 500 googly eyes, give them 8 or 10 until they use them and need more. The same goes with paint or any other supply. Less stuff means less mess.

Use non-messy supplies

While the tips above really help cut down on the mess of arts and crafts, there are times when it makes sense to just use non- or less-messy supplies. Some of our favorites are paint with water books, Dot-A-Dot markers, chalk pastels, Model Magic, and Kwik Stix Paints.


Have a trash can nearby

This one tip has made a huge difference in our house. Anytime my kids worked on a craft, there would be tons of little scraps of paper and supplies all over the room. Putting a trash can or trash bag right next to them helped cut down the mess everywhere else because they no longer had to get up to throw away trash every few minutes.

What are your favorite ways to reduce the mess while doing arts and crafts in your house?

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