Winter break is a wonderful time, and unless you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to have a job, you are rewarded with a blissful month of nothingness. However, the end is inevitable, and unless you are doing a Spring study abroad, you will shortly have to return to the harsh reality that is college. One thing that sets winter break apart from summer vacation, is that January isn’t really marked by any amazing school supply deals. At the end of August, you can go crazy buying notebooks and folders for mere pennies, but after winter break, if you have to restock your backpack, you are usually stuck paying full price. Or, you can be nice to your wallet and the environment, and just re-use your fall supplies. In my 4 years of college, I think I’ve only bought notebooks about 3 times, because each new semester I just rip all the used pages out, and voila, “new” notebooks. If you are someone who just can’t bear to have the same school supplies two semesters in a row, there are plenty of ways to disguise your supplies, and make something as good as new. So if you find yourself snowed in and bored with nothing to do over the break, here are some DIY projects you can embark on to give your school supplies a makeover. Some of them are a little childish, but hey, who cares?
1. “Words to Write by” (via Camille Styles)
I don’t know about you, but once I hit the 1tth grade I transformed into a pen person. However, if you are a graphite groupie, then this craft might be perfect for you, if you have a hammer and some metal stamps laying around. You can stamp them with some motivational quotes that could potentially cheer you up on a rough day, or go for just your name or initials. That annoying pencil borrower won’t be able to get away with anymore thefts if your pencils are bright orange and have your name on them. If that’s the case, you can also go for stamping on a few choice words. Take that pencil thiefs! Check out the tutorial here.
2. DIY Neon Pens (via Madigan Made)
Not sure if college students still use gel pens, but I bet there are some out there. If you are tired of just looking at the stupid ink holder and having ugly pens, this tutorial is a pretty quick fix. All you need is the most vibrant craft paper of your choosing, and basic pen deconstruction skills. This is a super simple and cute way to make sure your pens stand out from the crowd. Just remember, as adorable as these pens are, you should reserve their use to note taking and never hand in an assignment written in hot pink gel ink. Check out the tutorial here.
3. DIY Scrappy Fabric Notepad Tutorial (via Sahnda Marie)
A great alternative to notebooks are good old notepads, especially if you are someone who likes to use the same book, etc. to write all of your notes on. It is easier to rip pages off a pad, and you don’t have to worry about the spiral getting all wonky. If you have some old scraps of fabric laying around, or something like a shirt that just doesn’t fit anymore, you can pretty easily jazz up some plan notepads. If you do a whole stack, they could also make a cute gift. Check out the tutorial here.
4. It’s a Stretch Notebook (via Spoonful)
We’ve all been that guy who shows up to class without a writing implement at least once. It happens. If you think ahead and wrap some stretchy headbands around all of your binders, you can alleviate that problem by making sure you always have a pen or two hanging out on the surface of your books at all time. It looks pretty cool, and if you don’t like carrying a purse or backpack, this could free up some pocket space for more important things, like gum. You would never want to store the gum on your binder though, because too many people would see it and then ask you for gum. Check out the tutorial here.
5. Stamped Kraft Book Covers (via This Little Sparrow)
How come people stop covering their books after like middle school? Probably because college students no longer have time for that nonsense, except of course, during winter break. This tutorial uses plain brown craft paper, but you can pretty much use any kind of paper you want. The uniformity of the brown paper creates a pretty chic look though, and if most of your book collection is ratty and second-hand, covering them up will hide all of the flaws, and make them look cool. You can also write the wrong names on the outside, so people think you own all kinds of classic literature, but really you have about 12 crappy romance novels and some old textbooks. Check out the tutorial here.
6. Vinyl Record Notebook (via Stars for Streetlights)
If you are some kind of hipster, or lover of all things vintage, then boy do I have the tutorial for you. If regular, mass produced notebooks are just too mainstream for you, you can whip up your own one of a kind notebook from some recycled paper and an old record. This project actually looks fairly simple, but you have to keep softening up the record in an oven, and that part looks like it might be a patience tester. Check out the tutorial here; it is extra fun because it is in video form!
7. Reusable Lunch Containers (via Spoonful)
This isn’t technically a school supply, but for many people, lunch is the most important part of the day. If school lunch isn’t really your thing (is it anyone’s thing?) or you are trying to eat healthier and save some money, brown bagging your lunch is the way to go. Except instead of using brown bags, you can make cool little reusable containers out of plastic milk jugs. They are reusable, and dishwasher safe, if you happen to have a dishwasher. Check out the tutorial here.
8. A Fashionable Way to Roll up Your Cords (via Brit + Co)
If I didn’t know any better, I would say that cords, like headphones and usb cables, have tiny little brains and are programmed to get tangled immediately after being placed in close proximity to other objects. I mean, headphones sometimes even get tangled while they are in your ears, it’s crazy. If your school supplies include a lot of wires, making something that can store them neatly might be a good idea. If you stroll into the library and unroll your nifty pleather cord holder, you will pretty much look like a total bamf. Check out the tutorial here.
9. Upcycled Leggings Pouch (via Pennywize)
Hard plastic pencil cases definitely aren’t cool anymore, and besides, college desks are usually so tiny, you wouldn’t even have room to keep your pencil case on it anyway. However, if you would still like a container devoted to holding only writing utensils, you can try this pouch made out of old leggings. It is significantly cooler than the plastic kind, and looks kind of squishy so it could maybe double as a nice forehead pillow. Check out the tutorial here.
10. New and Improved Paint Chip Calendar (via Things Change!)
Even though cell phones have calendars and it is pretty easy to keep track of things that way, it is still nice to have a physical calendar hanging up somewhere. This one uses paint chip samples (yay free!) and can be used from month to month because it is housed inside a picture frame, so you can write on the glass with a dry-erase marker and just wipe it off every month. If you have more time and more paint samples, you can make a different calendar for every month, but seriously, so much work. Check out the tutorial here.
And if you really aren’t crafty at all, you can pretty much just wrap anything and everything in patterned duct tape. Duck tape?