3 DIY Family Projects

Family projects are a great way to enjoy one another while accomplishing a shared goal. Here are three family projects that can improve your home and your yard while spending time with the family. 

family projects

#1 DIY Family Portrait Photo Shoot

Getting a family portrait taken can be expensive. But it does not have to be! By taking your own family pictures you can save money, develop a talent and have fun! Here is a family projects guide on how to get your own family portraits rolling!

Back Drop Supplies

I bought both the green screen and the brown back drop. The brown is nice because it is neutral and goes with any clothing colors. You can get a separate frame but I got the green screen with mine so it was like killing two birds with one stone. The green screen is so fun to goof around with!

Make-Up

Make-up is optional but a natural look on the ladies always gives the best result. Here is a video of the process that we use when we do make-up for our movies and photo shoots.
  • Step 1. Foundation
  • Step 2. dark brown on bottom half of the eye lid and a lighter hue on the top half of eye lid.
  • Step 3. Mascara
  • Step 4. Light bronze on cheek bone and jaw line.
  • Step 5. Dark bronze on temples.
  • Step 6. White on the forehead, ears, nose and chin.
  • Step 7. Blush on the apples of the cheeks.
  • Step 8. Blend
  • Step 9. Lipstick
  • Step 10. Eyebrows

Lighting

I bought this light kit for moviemaking but it has come in handy for family portraits and really makes the pictures turn out great! The light kit shown below comes with two large lights stands and one smaller. The kit includes three "cool" light bulbs as well. I changed the smaller stand to a warm light to add some warmth to the set. The lights come with a very durable carrying bag and a safe case for the bulbs.

Set Up

Set up the back drop frame and attach the backdrop.

If you have a lot of people in your picture, set the backdrop up the wide way so you have more room to place people. (The clamps come in handy for this.)

If there are a few people, set it up the narrow way and lay the remainder of the backdrop on the floor closer to the camera. If possible, get feet in these shots. It will give it a more professional look.

Set the two large lights in between the camera and the backdrop. Their tops adjust so point them toward the center of the screen. The small light is for filling in any shadows. I encourage you to use a window to make a broad cast of light on one side of your set.

If there is a light in the ceiling make sure that under people's eyes are not dark looking. Sometimes this is overlooked and it may be best to leave the ceiling light off. If the shot looks better with it, by all means, leave it on.

A prop on the set gives dimension to the picture. Be sure it is in a spot where balance is maintained and it is not distracting.

Set the camera so that you can barely see off the backdrop. It is better to crop in when editing the photos than to have someone's head cut out of shot on your best picture.
Positioning

Study some professional photos and try to mimic the poses and positioning. If none seem to work for you, just do whatever looks even or symmetrical. Family projects like this one save money and help preserve precious memories!


#2 DIY Landscaping: Mary Garden

In the summer, the best kinds of family projects are outdoor ones. Using the skills you’ve begun developing while teaching your children chores, you’ll find many hands make light work with this project. A Mary garden is a great way to: Honor the Blessed Mother
Beautify your yard
Teach the kiddos some gardening skills.

Honor The Blessed Virgin

Honor the Blessed Virgin Mary by placing her statue in a prominent place in your yard. You can then design a garden that will suite your particular space and needs.
Choose Symbolic Flowers

Traditional Mary gardens contain flowers named after the Blessed Virgin Mary but obviously different zones and climates will require different varieties of flowers. For best results choose perennials that grow well in your area.
Encourage Devotion

If children help with this project, they really feel a sense of ownership and deeper devotion is fostered. Little ones love praying and offering little dandelion nosegays to their statue. Providing a path and allowing some room near the statue for their little feet is a good design idea because, of course, their dandelion nosegay is so much more important than the hundreds of dollars you have spent on the flowers you have planted.

Beautify Your Garden

You will definitely beautify your yard in the process. Before purchasing flowers, draw a sketch of your space. From this sketch consider the height of the flowers and your overall color scheme.

Draw A Sketch With The Help Of A Color Wheel

You can use a color wheel to help you choose flowers. Use colors that are opposite each other on the wheel so as to create the most striking results. Use several shades of green to work as neutrals to use between the contrasting flower colors.
Choose Flowers That Will Work Well In Your Area

Create a list of flowers you’d like to use then adapt those flowers to flowers that look similar but work well in your yard.

I live in California and have had to use deer and draught resistant flowers. I knew what flowers I wanted to plant then found deer and draught resistant alternatives. It has really turned out beautiful and a huge success.
Add Non-Flower Elements

Don’t forget to add non flower items to your sketch. Things to consider include: 
  • Bench 
  • Path 
  • Prie dieu 
  • Arbor 
  • Trellis
Some or all of these elements add greatly to your Mary Garden. Planning where they fit now is good design technique.

Teach Gardening Skills

You are sure to teach gardening skills to your children in the process. Actually this garden is a huge teaching tool. It teaches hard work and everyone will enjoy the benefits. Gardens are so rewarding. The lovely flowers, the hummingbirds, honey bees and butterflies to name a few things that will come and honor the area you’ve created for the Blessed Mother are a reward in themselves.

This project also teaches artistic skills when you allow the children to help prepare the sketch.

Children will learn how to prepare soil, plant, transplant, and divide flowers. They will learn how to water and fertilize and care for a flower garden all while practicing devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Step By Step Guide

The benefits of this family landscaping project are far reaching. Teach your children useful gardening skills, foster a spirit of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and beautify your yard during this long lasting project. Follow these steps to get started today! Prepare the area by removing sod and using black tarp to kill all the weeds and their seeds.

Draw a sketch of your final vision. Pinterest is an excellent resource for this stage of planning.
Purchase and plant the flowers as per your sketch. 

Water, fertilize and weed. 

Adapt your garden to your needs and tastes season by season. You can transplant, divide and add to your garden as you see fit.

Family projects in the garden are enjoyable for the whole family!

#3 DIY Pallet Picket

The final project on our family projects list is affordable and well suited for teenagers. You can often find free pallets posted on Craiglist or other publications. This project assumes a support fence along with posts and cross boards has already been built.

Teach Home Maintenance Skills

Family projects like this are ideal for teenage boys because it teaches them valuable home maintenance skills and gives them a sense of accomplishment all while adding functional beauty to the family home.

Learning some basic home maintenance skills while getting familiar with power tools is a must for teenage boys just as learning homemaking skills is important for girls. This is a perfect project for introducing these skills to your boys.
Gain A Sense Of Accomplishment

In a recent interview Dirty Job's Mike Rowe shed some light on why physical labor oftentimes is more rewarding than professional or administrative work. To loosely paraphrase, he said...

The fact that you can see that you did a good job and nobody has to tell you that you did a good job day in and day out is very rewarding.

It's good for us to feel a sense of accomplishment and to take pride in our work. In a project like this pallet picket fence, your teens can experience that.

Besides those benefits, this project is sure to beautify and improve your home.

Step By Step Guide

  • Saw off the boards on the pallets. A SawsAll comes in handy in this step.
  • Next, cut dog ears on all the boards with a chop saw.
  • Now is a good time to paint the boards.
  • Cut the butts off the boards with a chop saw to make them the same length.
  • Now it is time to nail the pallet pickets to the bracing boards. Decide how far apart you want the pickets. If you use a “junk” board or a scrap 2x4 you can continue a uniform space. Tie a string so that it just touches the top of your picket from one end of the fence to the other. Line the top of the picket to the string each time you nail them and they will form a nice straight fence.
Paint the entire fence one final time.

Family Projects Tie Heartstrings

Working together on family projects is a great way to tie heartstrings. These three family projects are sure to strengthen family bonds.

An annual family portrait sitting is fun as everyone can get in on the background and clothing choices. A Mary Garden will last many seasons and can be improved year after year. It will serve as a real source of pride and devotion. Honing those basic home maintenance skills while building something of use brings the family together in the pallet picket fence project.

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