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Pimp Your Flip-Flops

Transform your kids' plain old beach footwear for some serious (and cheap!) summer stylin'

Squeak-squap! Squeak-squap! It's one of the classic poolside sounds of summer: Water-wrinkled feet slapping against foam soles. The flip-flop, with its Y-shaped thong wedged between first and second toes everywhere, is arguably the most basic of all shoes – not to a mention a gloriously affordable warm-weather staple.

Kids know that nothing beats the ease of slipping into a pair and scuttling across scorching-hot sand for a cool dip. So why not show some summer lovin' to this simple sandal with a spiffy makeover? In Splashing by the Shore: Beach Activities for Kids, self-declared "beach expert" Lisa Mullarkey proves that it's a cinch with fabric, ribbon, beads and whatever other tidbits make you flip!

1. Get some flip-flops. The more basic, the better. Hunt down last season's broken-in pair, or snag some on the cheap from a discount or dollar store. We found ours in white, green and pink at a local Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts store for the wallet-friendly cost of $1.39 each.

2. Fabric time. To give your shoes a scrappy look, gather up a few spools of cloth ribbon and/or or about a 1/4 yard of fabric. Hit your friendly sewing shop's remnant and bargain bins – or dig into the deep recesses of the kids' closets, where outgrown duds can become the perfect flip-flop fixin's. Mix and match colors and patterns. We snagged a picnic-themed "fat quarter" (normally used for quilting) and some flashy, blue-bubbled swimsuit material (read: dries faster!).

3. Shape it up. Snip the fabric or ribbon into strips of different widths. Length-wise, shoot for about two to four inches, Mullarkey says – depending on how big or little those tootsies are.

4. All tied up. Channel your inner Scout and start knotting. Nothing fancy: Just tie the strips onto the thong-portion, starting at the toe divider and working out. Sometimes a single-tie will do; we doubled up for our swimsuit material, since it's a bit slicker. Fill the full strap, or just tie a "poof" in the middle.

5. Extra bling. Kick those flip-flops up a notch with as many knickknacks as your feet can take! Try weaving pink and purple "pony beads" around the strap with matching girly ribbon (Tips: A big plastic needle is great for threading two ribbons through one bead, and be sure that the inch closest to the base portions is bead-free to avoid a painful stroll!). For the finishing touch, tie on letter beads in the center. The green pair was transformed into "creature flops" with the help of bulging Styrofoam eyes. And for the grand finale, our pink flops popped with plenty of fabric, beads and coordinating star- and heart-shaped foam beads.

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