My favorite kind of projects are the ones that serve multiple purposes, like crafts for parties that double as favors. You get entertainment for your guests (even better if it fits the theme), and they get to keep the results as a happy reminder of your party. Because we focus on affordable and easy, I think I have the perfect project for your next party.

Making jewelry can be fun and it’s a breeze to tie it to your event theme by using supplies in coordinating colors, styles, and charms. Necklaces in particular are good to make because they allow for more personalization. Another bonus is that you can change the way you do the craft based on the age range of your guests. (See our tips below for younger guests.)

The example I used for this project is a “magical” necklace because it was for my daughter’s genie-inspired birthday party. She loves Nickelodeon’s very popular “Shimmer & Shine” tv show, which made it easy for me to find supplies for general party usage (stay tuned for an article on the full party!) and led my choices for supplies on the necklace project. Without further ado, here are the deets:

Project: DIY magical necklace

Theme Ideas: genie lamps, flying carpets, crystal balls, magic wands, wizard hats, elf shoes, castles, crowns, mermaids, unicorns & pegasus, dragons, rainbows, gems & jewels, silks & satins, etc.

Colors & Textures: jewel tones, metallics, sequins, glitter, faceted beads

Supplies:

  • Shoe box lid or cereal box (to be made into a jewelry tray)
  • Cord
    • Cotton is good for all ages and small enough for most beads
    • Silk is good for younger children and pony or large-hold beads
    • Plastic is good for older children and works on all beads
  • Beads (faceted, solid, wooden, specialty shapes, etc.)
  • Charms
  • Jingle Bells

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Making Your Jewelry Tray

If you already have a jewelry tray, great! If not, don’t worry: it’s easy to make one. The most important thing is that there is a raised edge around the outside to keep the beads inside. That means you can use something as simple as a shoe box lid, a baking pan, or a serving tray. None of that handy? Then follow these simple instructions for turning a cereal box or any cardboard box into a jewelry tray:

  1. Cut out the long, wide side of the box, leaving a wide, shallow tray behind.
  2. Tape the ends to enforce the structure of your new tray. (You don’t want it to suddenly fall open when you have a bunch of beads rolling around inside!)

OPTIONAL: You can add a holder for your string, too! Cut a slit halfway down the top, pull the string through, and tie the other end to a pencil or button to hold the string in place. You’ll find that, when you’re stringing the necklace, the starting end will flop around and make things difficult and messy. By holding the string in place, it will help with the stringing process. If your box is too thin to handle a cut, you can also hold the string in place with a binder clip or a piece of tape.

Getting Your Beads Ready

When it comes to setting your beads out for use, I prefer plastic storage boxes because you can close it them up with a lid when you’re done. No plastic boxes? You can also use glass baking dishes, as demonstrated below. You’ll want clear or a light color so that you can easily see the beads.

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Sorting your beads ahead of time can also save time and effort for your guests during the party. You can sort by colors, but that may make too many groupings… or at least, more than you have dishes / boxes to hold them. I like to sort by type, because I find most people will lean more towards faceted beads or solid beads, for example.

Tailoring Your Craft to Your Guests

The great thing about creating a necklace is that you can really tailor it to your guests.

Younger Children

  • Most toys warn that small parts should not be given to children under 3 years old because they are prone to putting them in their mouth and swallowing them. Same goes for beads!
  • For younger children who simply want to thread their own, silk cord and pony beads (larger-holed beads) are the best way to go, especially in fun colors. Younger school-age children can handle cotton cord and regular beads with some adult assistance.
  • Cut the cord 1.5 times the length of the necklace so that you have some left over for knotting in the back.

Older Kids and Adults

  • Try cotton cord or plastic cord. With older guests you can really get creative with knotting and weaving your cord!
  • Encourage creativity with multiple strands in a necklace. This also means you can braid the strands for an interesting effect.
  • To allow for the additional knots and / or braids, cut the cord 3 times the length of the necklace.

Let’s Get to Making

To get started, try a braid, simple beads, or a row of knots. This will be at the back of your neck, so you don’t need to waste good beads here. Keeping it simple will also help the necklace lie better on your skin.

Now is the fun part: BEADS! Try multstrands with different beads for a variety of colors and textures. Here I used a medium faceted purple bead with tiny faceted purple beads.

Next I tied it off with a knot to keep the beads in place.

You can then continue your pattern or go for a more eclectic look by varying your techniques. Here I switched from the multi-strand back to a single strand and used pony beads (they have large holes) that would fit over the combined strands. For these you’ll want to use a square knot or larger knot to keep the pony beads from sliding over the knot onto other parts of the necklace.

Don’t forget your charms and dangling beads! These add a nice change in texture sprinkled throughout the necklace.

And we can’t forget the FUN. My daughter fell in love with jingle bells, and I found these colorful ones in the clearance bin at a craft store. SCORE.

Another find from the sales rack was a variety mix of alphabet beads. I ❤ ABC.

Keep at your pattern – or non-pattern! – until you’re done and then tie it off. All that’s left is to enjoy your pretty baubles by wearing them or giving them as a gift to a friend. Here are a few examples in my collection (no, I didn’t make these, but I sure do wear them):

Happy eventing!