Did you ever wish there was a magical way to give your guests one-of-a-kind presents without breaking the bank? There is, and it’s not magic. All you need are some crafting supplies, some time, and some recycled paper. Whether you only make a few ornament sets to thank your immediate wedding party members, or you tackle the project of making DIY wedding favors for every guest, these are some ideas that don’t take much experience–just patience and creativity. Try turning out a few the next time you watch TV. You may be surprised at how productive you can be.
Types of Ornaments
Papier mâché beads are perfect for making DIY jewelry–and not just for women! Men can wear cuff links, wrist bands, neck pendants, and even earrings if they have a pierced ear. Customize each set of beads for each guest. You may have some guests with nose or eyebrow piercings, for example. You may also have guests who don’t wear jewelry at all; in that case, use the same craft technique to make one-of-a-kind zipper pulls, hair ornaments, or key charms for them. Use your knowledge of each guest to decide what type of ornament they’re most likely to use.
The Right Materials
The most important step in creating useful, usable presents is starting with high-quality materials. If you’re affixing your jewelry to a metal base, such as a necklace chain or earring studs, be sure to use hypoallergenic materials so all your guests can wear them. If you’re stringing paper beads together with thread, use heavy-duty thread to make sure your creation will last through many uses.
Making Papier Mâché Beads
Papier mâché is a great way of recycling newspaper, phone book pages, old notebook paper, or any non-glossy paper. Tear the paper into manageable pieces and blend it (using a kitchen blender) with enough water to break the paper down into a flexible paste. The smoother you get your paste, the nicer your beads will look in the end, so be sure to blend the paper and water thoroughly. If it’s having trouble sticking together, add some flour to thicken it. (Remember to wash your blender thoroughly before using it to blend food!)
Pour the paste into a bowl and scoop out a small amount with your hand (the exact amount depends on how big you want each bead to be). Squeeze it to get rid of any excess water, then roll it between two hands to form a ball. This is the start of your bead. Consider making beads of varying sizes to pair with each other for visually interesting jewelry.
Make as many beads as you want and set them out to dry on a flat, clean surface. Depending on the size of your beads, this could take anywhere from several hours up to several days. (You can use your oven on its lowest setting, with the door slightly ajar, to speed up the process–but remember to check it often to prevent fires!)
When the beads are dry, take a nail file or sandpaper and lightly buff the outside of each bead to smooth it. Now comes the fun part: using acrylic hobby paint, coat the beads in whatever colors or patterns you like (your wedding colors are a splendid starting place). If you know your guests’ favorite colors, now is the time to put them to use! You may also want to write messages on the beads, such as your guests’ names or the date of your wedding. If you’re handy with a paintbrush, paint symbols (such as hearts, flowers, or musical notes) that will remind guests of your wedding theme.
Let the paint dry, then add a coat of clear varnish to make the beads sparkle. Once the varnish is dry, drill a hole through the center of each bead so it’s ready to be strung onto necklaces, bracelets, earring studs, and other jewelry bases. If the hole looks uneven around the edges, touch up the paint and varnish with a small brush before stringing your beads.
Present Your Favors Well
Once you have your wedding favors made, don’t forget the right packaging! Use small jewelry boxes, tissue paper, or even origami paper boxes to present your artwork to its advantage. Tie each one with ribbon or twine, and don’t forget a hand-written card thanking each guest for attending. Personalized favors may take more time and effort than buying bulk favors from a store, but your hard work will give your wedding a more intimate, personal feeling–and that makes for more involved guests and a bigger celebration!
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.