Last Minute Gift Idea for 18 Kids – Polymer Clay Backpack Charms

Kids Backpack Charms “My polymer clay charms are turning out really cute and I love giving them as gifts.” ~Radeane-F

Picture this. It’s Thursday at around dinner time. Your 10 year old son announces that he needs 18 friendship gifts for his classmates by the next day… for a Friday morning school Christmas party. What to do?

First of all, don’t panic. And secondly, you remember that big bin of polymer clay beads up in the craft room. They are perfect for making cool and unique looking, backpack charms!

Normally I’m not the kind of mom to give in to such ridiculous requests at the last minute. But it really wasn’t my sons fault this time. You see he was moved into a new school this year, and was unaware of their tradition of having all the children exchange presents with each other. He just found out about it when one of the kids ended up leaving early for holidays, and gave everyone his gifts the day before the party.

Now at the risk of sounding like an overly proud mom, I’d like to share a little story about my son Fisher and his new school situation. Over the last couple of years, he has been very unhappy at his old school. But thankfully a perceptive teacher suggested that he go in for some tests. They revealed that he is actually “gifted” and he ended up qualifying to get into self-paced, accelerated education program.

Even though it was hard for him to leave his old friends and the nice school he was at, being in this new situation has made all the difference in the world! He is so happy now, and excited about learning.

The reason I told you this story is because it helps to explain why his teacher has all the kids exchange gifts each Christmas. Unlike other programs where the kids move to a new class each year, Fisher’s class is made up of grade 5, 6 and 7 students that all stay together for 3 years. So they kind of become family with each other. Gift giving is a way for them to bond.

Anyways… back to the polymer clay backpack charms part of the story. Being the night before the party, it was too late to go shopping. And even too late to make a whole bunch of handmade cards.

Well lucky for Fisher (and me), besides all of the finished polymer clay beads I had on hand, there was also a package of small lanyard clips in my studio. So he selected the beads that best suited each of his classmates, and I wired them up into little charms that could be clipped on a zipper, a backpack or even a cell phone.

When he passed them out the next day, everyone was thrilled. As you can see in the photo above each one was different. There was a couple of graffiti beads, a faux turquoise bead, a Jupiter bead, a faux leather leaf charm, a few different lentil beads, some faux pebbles, an extruder flower cane bead and a bunch of others!

This gift giving idea was fast, personal and easy to do. Plus it didn’t break the bank. My teen daughter, Willow, decided to take a few for her friends as well.

I think these kind of charms would make a great little fundraiser for Girl Guides or church bazaars. Or maybe the soccer team. You could make up a variety of beads in the school/group’s colors and have the kids make them up to sell.

They also make great last minute Christmas gifts! Phew! Polymer clay safes the day once again!

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  1. Anna Sabina, 23 December, 2009

    I guess there is a positive side to having lots of finished beads around; mine seem to keep multiplying.
    It is great he was able to decide which should go to each person rather than having the same thing for the whole group. Changing schools is hard for kids but it is good he is now more challenged.

  2. JoyceM, 23 December, 2009

    Wonderful, wonderful! First, wonderful that the situation for Fisher was identified and Fisher is on a wonderful path education wise. And how wonderful that his Mom is very resourceful and solved the gift exchange problem. This gives many of us something to think about in our own families. Children unhappy in school and end up falling by the wayside when they could be an exceptional student and give something great to our society. Thanks for sharing this story with us, Cindy and that picture of the charms is very motivational. Again, Merry Christmas to all.

  3. Rose, 23 December, 2009

    I love the idea of having leftover beads. Somewhere in my subconscious is the idea that everything I make has to have a purpose. Watching Cindy’s videos showed me that people make beads just for the making. I’m sure you all are thinking duh, but this was an eye opener for me. So, for the past few days, I’ve been making lentil beads – one of a kinds – just for the practice & fun. I plan to make some book beads to use with the book hooks I’m planing to make for a few friends. I made one yesterday for myself (I confess to being a page corner turner) & like the look of it. Maybe having a pretty book hook will get me using it. I’m looking forward to making more of the beads in the videos I purchased. I see a future with a big container of beads.

  4. Melinda H, 23 December, 2009

    Okay, so your little story inspired me… I completely ran out of time and energy this year and didn’t get anything made for my co-workers, no fudge, no chocolate covered cherries, no cookies… very bad friend… so I saw this and thought… I have a huge amount of beads, I have a lot of key rings… I made 25 key rings in an hour that I can now take to work this afternoon… Whoo Hoo… Melinda can give out gifts this year! Thank you dear!

  5. Elizabeth S., 23 December, 2009

    How wonderful that this teacher recognized Fisher’s gift and need to be more challenged. It’s amazing how one teacher can change the direction of a young person’s life. Kudos to her(him) for impacting Fisher’s in this way.
    Love the charms!!!

    To everyone, have wonderful holidays.

  6. Cindy Lietz, 29 December, 2009

    Sorry girls that it is taking me so long to respond to your wonderful comments. Taking a couple of days off means that things get a little back logged!

    @Anna: Yeah a few extra beads around can come in quite handy! Fisher is quite challenged there and it is good for him. Found it tricky at first to get used to the increased level of work and expectations, but he is figuring it out. Also is making new friends and ‘fits in’ with the group.

    @Joyce: Thank you for your kind words. I was very worried about Fisher, it was a fight to get him to go to school. Now it is no problem at all, he is happy to be there . Although I still have to prod him to do homework instead of playing video games! ;-)

    @Rose: Excellent point you brought up! I think that when you are learning to master a material such as polymer clay, the goal is to ‘work with’ the clay and learn the techniques even if the style is not your choice or you have no end ‘purpose’ for that particular kind of bead. Just by doing the techniques in every video, you will become a better clayer. You don’t have to do large amounts of them, just try every single technique. You’ll figure out what to do with the beads later. In fact many polymer clay artists, sell their beads rather than make anything with them. If you wait until you need a certain style of bead for a project before you try the technique, you may never get around learning the wonderful nuances of the clay. For example, if you wait until you need faux bone beads for a tribal necklace, before you learn how to make a faux bone cane, you may never get the chance to see how the translucent and opaque layers mingle with each other. Or how the antiquing medium, sits in the scratches and grooves of the wonderfully polished bone beads. You may never make more faux bone beads, but the experience will lead you to more discoveries about the medium, that you may not have found otherwise. So think of this bead making journey more as a “Build the Bead and the Purpose will Come” kind of thing. It will be a much more freeing and creative process for you that way!

    @Melinda: You have no idea how much it pleased me to read your comment! I loved hearing your inspiration turned into action. Way to go!!! I bet your co-workers were pleased!

    @Elizabeth: Thanks for saying that! I had always thought that Fisher was bright but since he had such trouble focusing and getting his work finished, I worried that something else was wrong. His teacher recognizing his strengths and giving him challenges made all the difference in the world. Instead of being frustrated with him, she helped him. And for that we are all very grateful. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday with your family. Looking forward to exciting adventures in the new year!

  7. Linda L. Bennett-Perez, 04 January, 2010

    Hi I am deaf lady and love polymer clay i would like to more learn various kind and i prefer if have video with close caption please let me know thank you appreciation.

  8. Cindy Lietz, 04 January, 2010

    Hi Linda – That is first time someone has asked about closed captioning for my videos. Thank you for bringing it up. I will look into it. If anyone has suggestions on how to set up closed caption text features, I’d be happy to hear from you.

  9. Leslie Hulet-Stahl, 11 January, 2010

    I will not be able to take the courses in a reasonable period of time, due to three planned surgeries. However, I definitely want to purchase the videos. Is there a way for me to pay for them and download them so that I can take each course and view each video whenever I am able to? Thank you.

    Leslie Hulet-Stahl

  10. Cindy Lietz, 11 January, 2010

    Hi Leslie. Thanks for your interest in my videos. First of all, I wish you all the best with your surgeries! Now in regards to purchasing the video tutorials, which ones are you inquiring about? The Polymer Clay Beginners Course, or the Weekly Polymer Clay Tutorials that get posted in the members library each Friday? ~Cindy

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