Hi! My first frugal family post is about our new favorite activity of making crayons. Raising kids is a huge part of our lives right now. While kids can be expensive (and childcare is certainly expensive!), there are plenty of ways to have family fun in a frugal way. It turns out these inexpensive crayon molds (affiliate link) were our kids’ most loved Christmas presents.
Mrs. Gov and I were at a loss of what to buy the kids for Christmas this year. We are grateful to have everything we need as a family. However, that means that none of the kids really *need* Christmas presents. Baby Gov is the youngest grandchild on either side, and we’ve inherited so many hand-me-downs from her cousins that I don’t know if we’ll ever need to buy clothes. Also, we’ve been parents for 11 Christmases, so have received almost every single toy ever.
We like to buy our kids 3 gifts at Christmas, a book, something fun, and something needed. Santa usually delivers something for the whole family, and they typically receive
too many a generous amount of presents from grandparents and our siblings.
We couldn’t find anything fun to buy the kids. But Mrs. Gov thought it’d be fun to get the kids something to melt crayons with, since all of our kids love to do art stuff. We had a hard time deciding between the Crayola Crayon Factory, and just some simple silicone molds (both affiliate links). We decided to get both. Mostly because we weren’t sure what the kids would think if they unwrapped an ice cube tray on Christmas morning.
Making Crayons with the Crayon Factory
After our traditional Christmas breakfast (waffles & bacon*), the kids excitedly opened the Crayola Crayon Factory and started producing crayons. It turns out that all of the mediocre Amazon Reviews for this are pretty much spot on.
- Yes, it does really take about 15 minutes to melt one single crayon.
- Furthermore, it is super easy to clog the crayon factory, and nearly impossible to unclog it.
However, I think an underrated part of this toy is that it comes with a crayon unwrapping tool. That tool is awesome. I think it’s worth the price of the Crayon Factory just to buy the crayon unwrapping tool.
Despite its limited utility, the kids enjoyed taking turns melting one crayon at a time throughout Christmas Day.
Making Crayons with Molds
While the kids were initially super excited about the Crayon Factory, they eventually started to play with the silicone molds we had purchased while they were waiting for their sibling to finish melting a crayon. Once they got up and running with the molds they abandoned the Crayon Factory completely and started to get really creative making different shapes.
The process of making crayons with the molds was super simple. First we peeled the crayons, and then broke them into pieces and filled the mold. Then we baked them in a toaster oven at 275 °F until they melted. *Important safety tip!* Do not put the molds too close to the heating element, otherwise you will start a fire in your toaster oven. Since I like to experiment, I explored various temperatures for melting the crayons. 250 °F worked but it took too long. 300 °F seemed to produce a lot of smoke. So I’d recommend 275°F as the optimum temperature for making crayons.
I’d like to point out that the crayon peeling tool from the Crayon Factory made this whole process of making crayons about 1,000 times easier. Peeling crayons by hand sucks. And its slow. And you get stuff under your fingernails. Too bad you can’t just buy the crayon peeler from the Crayon Factory.
The kids (let’s face it- the kids AND the parents) had so much fun making crayons with the molds. We had a lot of fun choosing different color crayons to put together in a single mold. It was also fun just to sort the various crayon colors after we had peeled and broken the crayons. There is something quite enjoyable seeing the bold colors next to each other.
Within several days of Christmas, we had melted down all of the crayons in our house into new and fun shapes. Since we were having so much fun, we put a call out to other families in the neighborhood to see if they had any old ones. Luckily we got lots of donations. It seems everyone has at least a few broken crayons in their house.
Everyone is still having a lot of fun making crayons. In fact, it has become a favorite activity for when the older two girls have friends over. Additionally, everyone loves it so much we bought the kids some extra molds for Valentine’s Day.
In summary, if you’re looking for a fun and frugal family activity, I highly recommend making crayons!
*When the oldest was 2 years old she thought that Santa would bring her bacon for Christmas. Evidently, Santa was listening because has delivered bacon every Christmas for 9 years 🙂
What I’m Thankful for This Year
In this post Gov Worker shares what he is thankful for in 2020. While it's been a crazy year, there is a lot to celebrate.
Daycare- the biggest obstacle to (early) retirement
Daycare is an obstacle to retirement. This post details our daycare costs and the opportunity cost of not being able to invest that money.