14 relaxing and nostalgic crafts you can do at home that will remind you of childhood

Gala98/Getty ImagesKnotted plastic key chains were once the accessory of choice for ’90s and early 2000s kids.
  • Some craft projects that conjure positive memories of a simpler time can make for hours of entertainment.
  • Spending time on a creative activity each day can yield some benefits for psychological wellbeing, according to a study from the Journal of Positive Psychology.
  • Insider has rounded up some of the best nostalgic crafts to do at home, from tie-dye to colourful slime and DIY hair scrunchies.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Arts and crafts time is not just for kids.

For starters, dedicating time each day to a creative outlet can lead to improved psychological wellbeing, based on a 2016 study from the Journal of Positive Psychology.

In addition, spending time on a hobby or craft that conjures positive memories of decades past, or “simpler times” in general, can be beneficial in its own way. According to a 2018 study from the Review of General Psychology, experiencing and embracing nostalgia can help people find meaning and increase feelings of social connection.

Research aside, who doesn’t want to spend time making something that takes them back to summer camp?

Keep reading to rediscover a handful of craft projects that may make for hours of fun at home.


Transform plain clothes into tie-dye masterpieces.

yongyeezer/Getty ImagesTie-dye can be easily done at home.

By now, it seems like tie-dye clothing is just about everywhere – but emulating the colourful fabric treatment at home can be easy and even more fun than buying an already-dyed outfit.

Tie-dye can yield a variety of results, depending on the folding and dying technique. It also requires fairly simple supplies, including fabric dye, plain clothes or fabric, rubber bands, and plastic gloves – plus, a place to let the dyed clothes set overnight before washing them thoroughly.


Turn an empty glass container into a glow-in-the-dark jar of “fairy dust.”

BunnieClaire/YouTubeThey’re a great way to upcycle mason jars.

You definitely do not have to be a kid to appreciate the magic of these luminous jars.

Some tutorials show how to make the “fairy dust” jars using glitter and intentionally broken glow sticks, while other glow-in-the-dark jars can be made with light-up puffy paint.

Either way, the supplies needed are relatively inexpensive, and you may already have some of the items – like an empty mason jar – around the house.


Creating your own bundle of slime can be soothing and fun.

Klavdiya Volkova/Getty ImagesPlaying with glittery slime can be a soothing sensory experience.

It may not be everyone’s dream project, but making a batch of gooey slime from scratch – both the process and the finished product – can be oddly soothing and entertaining.

While slime instructions vary, there’s a fairly easy way to make the substance using just a few supplies.

A 2017 Tech Insider video showed how to make slime with 4 ounces of Elmer’s Glue, 4 ounces of water, food colouring or acrylic paint, and borax solution. Mixing in glitter or foam dots can add another layer of texture to the slime.


Make your own macrame art piece or plant holder.

Helaine Weide/Getty ImagesThe rope craft makes for a great decor idea.

The thought of macrame might conjure memories of bracelet-making at summer camp, but it can be a surprisingly fun hobby to take up at home.

Using a macrame kit for beginners from a craft store, or by gathering materials of your choice, the possibilities are seemingly endless – create an Anthropologie-inspired macrame plant hanger, or make a wall decoration using the weaving and knotting technique.


Adding patches or pins to a jean jacket can give it a brand new look.

Reading With MoePatches are an easy way to personalise clothing.

Channel the ’90s with a pair of jeans or denim jacket embellished with patches, which can be easily sewn or ironed on the material.


You can also make your own scrunchies at home.

Jennifer ZhangScrunchies are an ’80s style that’s been revived.

Interest in the iconic scrunchie has been reignited in recent years, and, most recently, the fabric hair ties have become symbols of VSCO girl style.

Scrunchies can be easily made at home, though. YouTube creator Jennifer Zhang of JENerationDIY demonstrated how to make scrunchies three different ways, including two methods that require sewing, and one no-sew technique.


Making beaded jewellery is another whimsical nod to childhood.

Ratchada Prakobdee / EyeEmTiny beads and cord can make for endless crafting opportunities.

DIY beaded jewellery may seem like a thing of the past, but working with string, wire, and a rainbow of plastic pieces may be surprisingly relaxing for people who like meticulous activities.

Handmade jewellery can also be an easy and special gift idea or a way to brighten someone’s day, and all the tools you need – from pliers to decorations and chains – can be easily found at a craft store.

And, for what it’s worth, you can’t go wrong with a wrist stacked with colourful bracelets.


Plastic string bracelets and key chains used to be all the rage.

Gala98/Getty ImagesThese trinkets are a nod to the late ’90s and early 2000s.

These plastic, knotted objects – which were sometimes friendship bracelets, and other times key chains – were once the backpack accessory of choice.

Using few colours of the thick string – known as Rexlace plastic lace – that can be found at a craft store, the knotted objects can be made using a mesmerising weaving technique.


For another nostalgic fashion look, embellish plain hair pins with beads or jewels.

Georgie Hunter/Getty ImagesA guest at New York Fashion Week 2019 wears colourful hair clips.

Decked-out hair clips have also resurfaced as a trend that’s a nod to decades past. Plain hair clips and bobby pins can be personalised with materials found around the house, decorations like letter beads or tiny pearls, and a glue gun or super glue.


Use oven-baked clay to create stylish marbled coasters.

Sarah JohnsonColourful clay coasters.

To mimic the soothing experience of playing with Play-Doh as a kid, but in a way that will yield a stylish result, try making something out of clay.

For example, blogger Sarah Johnson’s marbled clay coasters make a practical decor piece and require multicoloured clay, optional metallic paint for the edges, and an oven to bake the material.


Attempt your own DIY bars of soap for a practical crafting session.

screenshot/INSIDERA heart-shaped bar of soap.

Some people may remember making their own tiny hand soaps as a kid using molds shaped like seashells or flowers. Now, it’s a craft that is more practical than ever.

Typically, DIY soap-making kits from craft stores or online shops like Etsy come with everything you need, including the base soap ingredients, fragrance oil or other add-ins, and molds that turn the liquid mixtures into solid shapes.


Make a colourful piece of art with crayons, a canvas, and a hair dryer.

Julie Rideout/Getty ImagesMelted crayons can make for unique works of art.

There are a plethora of YouTube tutorials on how to perfect the art of melting crayons, but the necessary tools are pretty easy: a canvas or material, enough crayons to cover the surface, and a heat mechanism – preferably a blow-dryer.

A canvas full of melted crayons may not seem like the most sophisticated art project in the world, but there’s certainly something relaxing about watching rainbow-ordered colours slowly blend together.


Make a cosy, double-layered fleece blanket without sewing anything.

A Girl And a Glue Gun/YouTubeSome people may remember making the knotted blankets as teenagers.

There’s nothing like a fresh fleece blanket, which is why this childhood craft is especially comforting.

Based on a tutorial from craft blogger A Girl and a Glue Gun, the blanket can be made by layering two pieces of fleece, which can be found at craft or fabric supply stores.

Then, make even cuts around all four edges, creating a fringe-like effect. To secure both pieces of fleece together, tie each piece of fringe together in a simple knot.


Create miniature masterpieces with iron-on bead kits.

Henk Hulshof/Getty ImagesPerler beads were once a birthday party mainstay.

Iron-on bead kits, which were popularised by the brand Perler, come with a rainbow of tiny plastic beads and accompanying templates.

Once the beads are arranged, they can be fused together with an iron (and by following the proper directions) to create tiny pieces of art that can be fun for crafters of all ages.

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