Kids Craft: How to Make a Customized Economical Lunchbox

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As your kids head back to school, I'm sure many of you are thinking of ways to save. Staying within a budget on back-to-school items can be difficult. That's why at our house we re-use many things from previous years, like backpacks and lunchboxes. My oldest has used the same backpack for the past three years, and when he complains, I simply remind him that I had to wear homemade school clothes and carry a hand-me-down backpack when I was growing up, and that quiets him pretty quickly. Our children really have it much easier than many of us did in our younger years, but that doesn't mean that they can't learn to appreciate the value of making something last as long as possible, or repurposing something instead of going out and buying it new.

Red lunchbox with the name Charlie

My oldest son's lunchbox from last year was worn out, for instance, so instead of buying him a new one, I repurposed a metal scrapbook supply container that functioned just like a lunchbox. Then I helped him "customize" it so he can reuse it this year and have it feel new. In order to make this as fun as possible, I offered him lots of choices.

How to Make a Customized Economical Lunchbox


  • Metal lunchbox
  • A variety of smooth patterned scrapbook papers (textured doesn't adhere as well), and/or tinfoil
  • Scissors or a Fiskars paper cutter
  • Mod Podge
  • Craft brush or small paint brush, and a shallow plastic bowl
  • Letter stamps
  • School-themed embellishments (bought on sale)



I got the idea for this from this tutorial on SplitCoastStampers, featuring a fancier version of the project. This is the simpler, more masculine approach.

Step 1: Select, trim, and attach papers.

I suggest having your child select two papers for each side: one with a pattern and the other a coordinating solid. Trim to fit (about 7 1/2 x 4 inches). My son went for the bold-but-simple "robot" look, with tin foil.

Pour a few tablespoons of Mod Podge in the shallow plastic bowl and have your child coat one flat, wide side of the box with the glue. Then adhere the paper or foil, smoothing out wrinkles and air bubbles.

If I were adhering the paper, I would have my child "paint" the upper half of the flat side of the lunchbox first, adhere the patterned paper, then "paint" the lower half, and adhere the solid coordinating paper.

Let dry. Repeat on the other side. If you want extra durability, paint another layer of glue over the paper and let dry. It will dry hard and slightly shiny.

Step 2: Add name.

A big part of the customization for your child will be adding their own name, right? This can be done with stamps, stickers, or die-cut letters if you have them. If your child stamps them, you can then either have them cut out the letters individually, or cut their name out as a strip. Have your child add glue to the back of that, and adhere.

Step 3: Decorate as desired.

My son glued on a few school embellishments. You can provide stickers, ribbon (adhere with glue dots), or die cuts.

Have fun!

Do you customize your kids' school supplies? How do you personalize them?

Featured image courtesy of Flickr.
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