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DIY Ribbon & Bead Necklaces for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Upcycling items into quality crafts for Operation Christmas Child is a great way to pack shoeboxes on a budget while enjoying the creativity of crafting.  Suzanne, from Sew Delightful, creates simple necklaces for shoeboxes from costume jewelry and ribbon.  She shops estate sales and thrift stores for deals on the jewelry as well as bulk beads and makes hundreds of unique, one of a kind, necklaces.  She also uses purchased pony and other beads she finds on clearance.  Suzanne is very generous and ships many of them to us to use in our shoeboxes each year.
We shared an unboxing video on Simply Shoeboxes YouTube when two of Suzanne's boxes arrived in the mail; and interest was sparked in the necklaces.  I decided to share a quick overview here and on YouTube (see video below--it shows more of Suzanne's designs) so others could enjoy seeing them and making some of their own.  This is a great project for groups to do together -- even good for children to be a part of.
Add brightly colored new beads to duller upcycled ones.

Ribbon Necklaces Using Upcycled Costume Jewelry and Plastic Beads Tutorial

  • Old Costume Jewelry with large holes -- 1/8" ribbon needs to fit (from estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores, free sites, Ebay)
  • pony beads, other plastic beads, shaped beads
  • 1/8" ribbon (Suzanne used satin, but grossgrain would be fine, too)
  • Plastic or organza bag to hold it when finished
  • Optional: 
    • jingle bells


  • Cut Ribbon into 26" length
  • String beads onto ribbon
    • If holes in beads are little small try this:  cut ribbon 27" and trim end at an angle diagonally about 1/2" long [need really sharp scissors]--this will make a point to put thru the bead, then the ribbon should roll a little and tug thru the bead.
  • Tie a knot at end of ribbons (hold two ends of ribbon together, make a loop and slide ends thru loop and pull tightly)

Video Version:

Nothing could be simpler!  And it is certainly a quality craft the girl receiving an Operation Christmas Child shoebox will enjoy.  There are many reports from distributions of OCC shoeboxes that the children love anything they can put on.  Sarah likes to include more than one in a box so the girl can share with a friend or her mother.

Necklaces for the 5 to 9 year old girl shoeboxes from pony beads and character beads.

The supplies can also be made into beading kits to include in a shoebox so the girl can make her own necklaces.  Tuck them in a plastic zip bag or organza bag (two sources we buy from are listed below).  I like to include a finished necklace and a bead kit that our friend Vicki from Chelle's Caybees makes for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes each year.

Here are a couple of Suzanne's latest designs upclose.

For more upcycling and quality crafts for Operation Chrismtas Child shoeboxes check out our OCC Crafts Page.

If you are interested, here are two sources we are familiar with for bags (these are Simply Shoeboxes' affiliate links, ordering thru them costs you nothing but helps keep Simply Shoeboxes going).

Dollar Tree Baby Shower Organza Drawstring Bags, 6-ct. Packs, online ordering by the case,  SKU: 975579

MD Supplies & Services 3 x 4 Zipper plastic bags, 1,000 for $7.75 [as of 3/1/2019] -- listed at top of list (free shipping when ordered thru Shoebox Shopping list).

$1 Craft Supplies at Dollar Tree!

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Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.