Frugal Fruit Basket

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"Ashton busted the pinata on the first try!" Grace gushed as I drove her home from a lovely 6th birthday party at a horseback riding school. "Dylan slipped on frosting and knocked over the whole gift table. Jack has a twin sister who's 3 minutes older than him!"

Like a seasoned entertainment reporter, Grace gives the best après party reports this side of Hollywood. I couldn't wait to hear about all the exciting equestrian-inspired activities, so imagine my surprise when the highlight of the pony party was a "fruit basket."

"Mama, Amelia's mom had these fruit flowers on the table and we got to eat them!" she raved. "Some of them even had chocolate on them," she added with a tone approaching reverence.

A phone call later, Amelia's brilliant mom revealed her source: www.ediblearrangements.com. I logged on to check out their mouthwatering array of party treats — feasts for the eyes as well as the stomach — but fruit presented this beautifully is not cheap. While I might be able to justify the cost for a special occasion like a birthday, it was too steep for the gathering I had them planned for, a playdate get together for some neighborhood friends.

"Grace, I know you wanted the fruit flowers for our playdate, but honey, they are just not in our budget for now," I explained.

Grace, ever-ingenious, said, "Mama, could we make them?"

I logged back onto the site, and as I analyzed the mouth-watering pictures, I concluded that Grace's Do-It-Yourself suggestion was definitely doable.

We went to the grocery store where I bought bamboo kabob skewers, toothpicks, and an array of fruit — watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, strawberries, and cans of mandarin orange slices and pineapple rings.

We used small flower and star cookie cutters to fashioned pretty blooms from thin slices of watermelon and cantaloupe. Grace cut them out and I assembled them with the other fruit on the skewers. We halved a small watermelon, turned it upside down — using it as a vase — inserted our flowers into it. Grace even made a fruit "caterpillar" for her little brother.

While our version might not have been quite as impressive as the professional arrangement, it was no less sweet. Even more so in the fact that we spent time creating something together.

And as I always discover in the many money-saving and DIY projects I take on with my kids, it's not the end result that counts, it's the process that's priceless.

What's your favorite DIY project? Click the comments link below to find and share ideas.

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