Easy DIY projects for getting school-ready without the store

As the kids head back to school this fall, you may be dreading the school-supply store run that comes with the season. 

But fret no longer: Brit Morin, founder of Brit + Co, stopped by TODAY to share her tips for fun and easy DIY projects for essential back-to-school items. From crafty backpacks to homemade book covers, find out how you can get classroom-ready — without spending too long at the store. 

VIDEO: Watch how to craft some fun and easy DIY school supplies for back-to-school!

Lunchboxes

Lunchbox TODAY

Instead of buying an expensive, decorative lunch box at the store, design one of your own with this fun, school-themed personal touch. Simply paint the outside (or inside) of the lunchbox with chalkboard or whiteboard paint, then use chalk or dry erase markers to pen your own messages or decorations. If you're a parent who likes writing notes or reminders to your children, this is especially handy.

  • Chalkboard lunchbox: Paint two coats of chalkboard paint on a tin lunchbox. Let it dry, then write on it with chalk (or with a chalk pen for a more permanent phrase). 
  • Whiteboard lunch box: Paint the outside with white acrylic paint (you'll need a few coats). Then add three coats of white board paint. Let it dry for three days, then write on it with dry erase markers.
  • Slideshow Photos

    21 cool lunchboxes for back to school

    Too cool for school? Not with these creative lunchboxes that will keep your food fresh and your kid happy.

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    Monster Geek -

    Get your geek on with this cute monster geek lunch bag. This machine-washable bag can easily be cleaned. Sized to fit lunch, a snack and a drink bottle, with inside mesh pockets to keep things stashed and stowed.
    Mark Freemesser / dabbawallabags.com
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    Yumbox bento box -

    Yumbox is a kid-friendly, bento-style lunch container made with high-quality, durable, BPA-free, food-safe materials. The lunchbox fits standard-size lunch totes and has an easy open latch.
    Yumbox.com
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    Pow! -

    These lunch bags are made from organic cotton with azo-free dyes and a food-safe (no phthalates, BPA or lead) lining that's also washable.
    shak-shuka.com
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    Butterfly -

    This lunch kit includes a recycled cotton lunch sack and napkin, stainless-steel water bottle, food kozy wrap and two stainless-steel containers. Durable and non-toxic, the complete lunch kit is a great alternative to plastic containers.
    kidskonserve.com
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    Dreamy day -

    This lunchbox features a child’s name on multiple sides and a chalkboard on the inside lid where you can write a personalized note to your child each morning.
    Allan Haag / iseeme.com
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    Dinosaur -

    This kid-friendly lunchbox that is coated in linen comes in a bunch of retro-inspired designs. It can be worn as a backpack or messenger-style. Every cooler bag and lunchbox comes with a leak-proof, insulated insert for easy cleaning and to help avoid staining from spills.
    soyoung.ca
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    Mackenzie Camo -

    This insulated bag features multiple compartments and reusable utensils. The bag features a molded interior so it’s easy to clean and an adjustable shoulder strap. The food box and utensils are made from stainless steel.
    potterybarnkids.com
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    Lunch purse -

    This lunch purse is the ideal grab-n-go choice for both moms and girls of all ages and serves double duty as an lunch tote or carryall for essentials.
    Mark Freemesser / dabbawallabags.com
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    Portal 2 Companion Cube -

    This sturdy tinlunch box, fashioned to look like a Companion Cube from the video game Portal 2, is adorable and durable.
    thinkgeek.com
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    PlanetBox -

    PlanetBox, part bento box, part TV dinner tray, has segmented containers to pack no-waste meals.
    planetbox.com
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    Aquarius Boombox -

    Kickin' it old school is what you will be saying with this retro boom box tin lunchbox.
    amazon.com
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    Block bento -

    The Block Bento is a practical, two-tier bento box that has a flexible, leak-resistant lid. A pair of chopsticks is included, which fits into a special slot on top of one of the inner lids. An elastic bento belt in a matching color is included.
    bentoandco.com
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    Funny dog -

    This funny dog soft insulated food bag is a simple yet cute lunchbox that will make everyone giggle.
    amazon.com
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    Spaceboy -

    This lunchbox is decorated with retro art that any boys, or even grown-ups and girls, would like.
    mysweetmuffin.com
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    Hot Wheels -

    This fully insulated lunchbox has flashing LED lights and comes with a free Hot Wheels car.
    amazon.com
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    Goodbyn Bynto -

    The Goodbyn Pink Bynto Box is lightweight, microwave-friendly and has a handle at the top. Complete with a secure lid, this durable box will ensure there are no unsightly leaks in your little one's bag.
    goodbyn.com
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    Icky Bugs -

    The Icky Bugs laminated cotton canvas lunch sack is the ideal choice to carry small lunches or snacks. Features full insulation, a hook-and-loop closure, interior card for ID information and a convenient handle strap.
    readisetgo.ca
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    Build a Lunchbox -

    This lunchbox comes with stickers so the little ones can decorate their own. The kit comes with one plain metal lunch box and a choice of a sticker book.
    lunchboxes.com
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    Skip Hop -

    The Owl Lunchie is the perfect-sized bag for lunchtime at school. The Lunchies have a large, main compartment that zips closed, keeps food and drinks cold and is easy to wipe clean. It also includes a place inside to write your littile one's name and a clip that can attach to any backpack when they're on the go.
    Skip Hop‎
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    Disney Frozen -

    This cool tin box with latch closure features a picture of Anna and Elsa from Disney's "Frozen."
    amazon.com
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    TMNT Shell -

    Don't let hunger pangs hit in the middle of a battle with Shredder and the Foot Clan. Remember to pack ahead and fill this radical turtle shell lunch box with a slice of your favorite pizza for extra energy.
    Nordstrom

Book covers

Crafting your own book covers is a great way to add a creative touch to school supplies — not to mention it's also easy and inexpensive to do. To create the perfect cover, just add some fun elements like colorful tape, a die-cut design or Instagram-printed wrapping paper. 

Book covers TODAY
  • Colorful tape cover: Wrap your book with craft paper, or even a paper bag from the grocery store. Then simply add colorful tape to create a pattern or design.
  • Die-cut design cover: Wrap a book with plain, white paper. Use a print-out of your favorite design to trace it onto the book cover. Then, using an Exacto knife, cut out the design. Tape the design to the back so that it peeks through.
  • Instagram photo cover: Take your favorite Instagram photos and have them printed on wrapping paper. Some examples of where you can do this are the website Spoonflower or Kinko's. 

Personalized pencils

Standard yellow and mechanical pencils are a bit boring, so why not jazz them up with your own favorite pattern? Coincidentally, washi tape (a Japanese craft tape known for its cool designs) happens to be the perfect width to wrap around a pencil. Just tear off strips and wrap — you can even switch them up whenever you want.

  • Washi tape-wrapped pencils: Use washi tape in your favorite designs to decorate your pencils with different patterns and colors. 

Pencil holders

Now that you have your fun, personalized pencils, you'll obviously need a place to put them. Here are some creative ideas for storing them in a pretty convenient place: your notebook. 

  • Outer notebook pencil sleeve: Hem the edges of a long strip of fabric. Then add a front pocket, and stitch some elastic to the bottom so that you can slip it onto your notebook.
  • Inner notebook pencil sleeve: Cut and sew a small piece of fabric. Then stitch a piece of elastic onto the fabric, making sure to leave room for the pens and pencils. Hot glue the fabric to the inside of your notebook cover.

Cord organizers

To keep all those pesky cords neatly wrapped up when you're not using them, create a simple, homemade pouch that will keep them (and you!) organized. To craft a cord-carrying case, simply use cut-outs from pieces of vinyl or leather, and add a snap to keep it closed. 

  • Roll-up cord pouch: Cut a house shape out of your vinyl or leather and decide where you want your cords. Make slits using your Exacto knife, then roll it up. Add a snap to keep it closed.
  • Mini cord pouch: Using your leftover vinyl or leather, cut out small rectangles and add snaps to create pouches. 

Bags

Create a crafty backpack that will get you excited about packing up for school this year. Instead of opting for a boring, solid-colored bag, try one of these ideas that's full of individuality.

Bag TODAY
  • Instagram-themed backpack: Here is a great way to use Instagram photos — teens will especially love it. Using photo transfer paper, simply print out and iron the images onto your favorite tote or backpack. 
  • Painted backpack: Customize your tote or backpack with fabric paint. Simply create a design with painter's tape, add the paint, wait for it to dry and then peel the tape off. You'll be done in under an hour.
Bag TODAY
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