So for her party, I wanted to create a magical party favor for the 12 girls coming over.
For most birthday parties, my kids come home with kid tattoos, bubbles, stickers, pencils, glow sticks, erasers and bags of candy. Cute...but most of it gets dumped.
A waste of money overall. And I actually caught Esther eating the grape scented eraser! Yikes.
So beachy terrariums it is. And what a blast we all had creating these!
Like sand dunes nestled to the water, these beachy terrariums even have lapping waves to mimic the ocean in all its blueish, greenish and turquoise splendor.
Shells, beach glass and pebbles top our cute coastal creation!
And of course ~ a native beach "dune" in the form of an exotic air plant!
I feel like I'm taking a mini vacay every time I glance at the trio of beach themed terrariums on my kitchen countertop.
Let's do this!
Before we get started why use air plants and not succulents?
Certainly too humid for succulents! I have no clue why so many terrariums I'm seeing on Pinterest are featuring succulents. Succulents planted too close together to boot!
Even with an open terrarium such as the one we are creating today, a succulent isn't going to like the confined space and lack of air flow.
That succulent is likely to die. Sooner rather than later.
Air plants (tillandsia) fuss much less. It takes far more effort to kill an air plant than not.
Besides, air plants don't require soil making them a spot-on choice for an open or a closed terrarium rooted in sand.
If you were to use succulents, drainage holes would be a must. You also wouldn't be able to plant exclusively in sand as soil is needed.
Sure, the succulents like some gritty sand mixed in the soil but the effect would be ruined. Colored sand mixed with black dirt? Ugly.
Your other option would be to plant the succulent in another container and plant that pot into the terrarium. Then you'd layer colored sand around the potted succulent.
What a pain! Just use an air plant and make life easy!
Why mini mason jars?
After mulling over my options at Walmart, Amazon and Target, my mom found these 3-pack mini mason jars for $3 at Target.
At first, I hesitated. I even put them back because they only had one set of 3 and I needed 12. This would mean traveling to several Target stores to get 12.
But my mom convinced me these were the way to go because they had lids. So I ceased looking at 0-3 month baby clothes that I don't need and when back to grab them.
Besides, the mini mason jar option with lids allows kids to transport these terrariums home for a spill-proof ride.
Air plants are flexible. The air plant can be pulled out and held separately when transporting terrariums home.
The size of these mini mason jars was also spot-on standing at 3.5 inches tall.
Colored sand is expensive. The bigger the container, the more sand you'll need. You'll also need more toppings adding to the price.
Tips on purchasing colored sand
It would have been cheaper to buy a bulk pack of sand in every hue under the sun (or rainbow) if you will!
But I was avoiding colors like hot pink and purple, not too beachy. It depends on the look you are going for. For a unicorn terrarium those colors would be perfect.
So I don't think multi-colored sand would look dreadful~ they would certainly be pretty terrariums and give girl crafters more options. It's up to you and your personal tastes!
These 1.5 colored sand containers came in the exact colors I was seeking and were purchased at Hobby Lobby for $3 each. Just to be safe, I bought 2 of each color to make sure every color was available to the girls.
There is some left over, but we'll use it for other projects so I don't mind.
Topping your piece of paradise
I stuck with my beach theme and went with shells, small pebbles and beach glass.
The beach glass and shells were particularly nice and helped make each terrarium unique.
I was worried the girls would cut themselves on the sharp glass so had them point to the pieces they wanted and helped place them in the terrarium.
Smooth glass pieces work equally well! I liked the jagged edges this time round!
Items fitted for fairy gardens could be incorporated like mini beach chairs and white fences.
Let your creativity run wild!
Creating waves with colored sand
Sometimes it's easier to tell you what not to do than what to do.
Don't place your first layer of sand in your glass terrarium and bang it on the countertop. This will only flatten the sand.
That's okay if your aim is flat layers but my goal was big, beachy ocean waves crashing to shore!
So I created layers by lumping the sand as high as possible (with a spoon) just in the corners to start. The first two corners with blue and then light brown in the remaining two corners to achieve this effect.
Try to keep the middle more open. With every layer you add the piece will naturally allow sand to flow to the middle. It will get filled.
Never pick up the jar~ this will mess up your layers and may get the sand mixed up.
Younger kids in particular will struggle a bit with the concept of not mixing the sand or picking up the jar for one "blah" piece.
The layers need to be distinct, so keep the jar flat on your working space.
Keep adding layers at the corners. Never mix the sand with the spoon.
It's nice to alternate blue/green/turquiose colors with the white and light brown for contrast.
Waves and beach together are the best of both worlds!
The contrast of the white and some light brown against all the beachy hues is quite lovely!
These beachy terrariums are all about personal preference. I had about 13 layers in mine.
And I used about 10 shells in various sizes and 5 colored glass pieces on top for effect. You do what works for you!
Of course she is a free spirit. Always of a creative mindset. She's left-handed!
My other daughter and her friends are in the 8-9 range and this project was ideal for them. Not too easy or too hard.
The girls' took between 30-45 minutes to complete this project. I was done in 15 minutes but had far fewer layers. My 6-year-old took her time and took 45 minutes to complete her masterpiece.
Beachy terrariums gave them enough freedom to individualize each piece.
My younger daughter's waves were certainly more pronounced than mine! It looks like a storm is coming on.
Reminiscent of the Caribbean, her waves just whirl and swirl.
But I stopped filling my terrarium with layers at the 2.5 mark. This left plenty of room for my toppings. Not to mention nestling in that air plant.
And the sky is the limit when it comes to air plant variety. You choose what suits you. Taller air plants will give off dramatic vertical height. Shorter varieties make for a cuter terrarium.
Twists, turns, spikes and twirls all make for an interesting showpiece.
Set your creativity loose on this DIY beach terrarium!