5 Ways to Trick Out Your Insulated Lunch Bag

By Jonathan Fong

Things Needed

  • Insulated lunch box or bag
  • Red duck tape
  • White duck tape
  • Blue duck tape
  • Maps
  • Decoupage medium
  • Rhinestones
  • Jewelry embellishment glue
  • Feather boa
  • Old shirt
  • Fabric glue
  • Large safety pins
  • Assorted beads
Creative DIY ideas for insulated lunch boxes

Peanut butter and jelly again? Well kids, lunch just got more exciting, thanks to these creative ideas for decorating your insulated lunch box. So, even if you're eating the same thing every day, your lunch box can still rock the cafeteria.

Duck Tape Flag Lunch Box

Layer red and white duck tape to make stripes

Apply a strip of red duck tape to the top edge of the lunch box. Do not worry at this point about cutting the duck tape to the right size. Just extend the tape past both left and right edges. Right below the red duck tape, layer a strip of white duck tape so that about an inch of the red strip remains. Repeat with a strip of red duck tape right below the white, so one inch of the white remains. Keep going until the entire side is filled with red and white horizontal stripes.

Trim the edges

Using scissors, cut off the excess duck tape so your left and right edges are aligned with the lunch box.

Create a blue rectangle

In the upper left corner, layer strips of blue duck tape to form a blue rectangle. Use scissors to create a clean edge.

Apply the stars

Cut stars out of white duck tape and stick them in the blue rectangle. To cut the stars more easily, place the duck tape on a cutting mat and cut out shapes with a hobby knife. Then peel the stars from the cutting mat and adhere to the flag. And while the number of stars and stripes on this patriotic lunch box is not accurate, your history teacher will probably let this pass. Just this once.

Old Map Lunch Box

Apply decoupage medium

Apply a layer of decoupage medium to the canvas on the insulated lunch box. If possible, purchase decoupage medium for fabric, as it is specially formulated to work with canvas. Regular decoupage medium, or decoupage glue, will also work. This initial coat of decoupage medium primes the fabric for subsequent layers of paper and sealer.

Cut maps to fit all sides

Since GPS became the norm for car navigation, local maps have become plentiful in thrift stores. (A map of your city or state would give it that personal touch.) Cut pieces of maps to fit on all sides of the lunch box.

Decoupage map to the lunch box

Working one side at a time, apply another coat of decoupage medium on the lunch box. Place the trimmed map on top of the decoupage medium and use your fingers to press the paper into the medium and smooth out air bubbles. Then apply another coat of decoupage medium on top of the map.

Seal with your fingers

Dip your finger in decoupage medium, and run it along the perimeter of every side to make sure all the edges are completely sealed. When the decoupage medium dries, the paper looks and feels like vinyl.

Glam Rhinestone Lunch Box

Glue rhinestones to the border

The divas out there know that to do lunch in this town, you can't be seen without a rhinestone lunch bag. Start with clear crystal rhinestones and glue them to the top and bottom edges of the insulated lunch box. Use glue that is formulated for permanently sealing gem embellishments to fabrics. You will find several brands to choose from at the crafts store.

Spell out a word

Spell out "glam," or perhaps your name, with smaller colored rhinestones in the middle of the lunch box. Once you have the word positioned where you want it, glue each individual rhinestone in place. Allow the glue to dry before moving the lunch box, as the rhinestones may shift.

Tie a feather boa to the handle

Tie a piece of a feathered boa to the two ends and middle of the handle. Now work it.

Upcycled Shirt Lunch Box

Cut up a shirt into sections to fit each side

Find an old shirt in the closet or at a thrift store. Place the shirt on the insulated lunch box to cut out sections that fit every side you want to decorate. Here's a helpful hint: plaid shirts are easiest to work with because you can use the lines in the plaid as a guide when cutting.

Glue fabric to lunch box

Working one side at a time, glue individual shirt sections to the lunch box, making sure that they are sealed along the edges. Fabric glue is a permanent adhesive for fabric that is perfect for projects like this where sewing is not possible.

Include the buttons

When gluing the shirt fabric to the lunch box, include sections of the shirt that have shirt details like plackets and buttons. They add to the charm of the design.

Put utensils in the shirt pocket

On the back of the lunch box, glue the section of the shirt with the pocket. This pocket serves as a handy place to store utensils and napkins.

Safety Pin and Bead Lunch Box

Straighten a safety pin

Beads add color and bling to an insulated lunch bag, and they're easy to apply thanks to safety pins. First, straighten a safety pin with your fingers or a pair of pliers.

String the beads with the safety pin wire

String the beads with the wire of the safety pin, going only up to the point in the safety pin where the bend was. Create any design with the beads that strike your fancy.

Bend the wire back

Bend the wire back to its original position so that the beads are locked in place. You will need 16 beaded safety pins all together.

Attach the safety pins

Pin the first safety pin to the lunch box so that the head of the pin is in the middle. Pin another safety pin opposite this first one. When inserting the pin through the fabric, make sure you are pinning just the fabric at the surface and not the insulated material underneath.

Create a pattern with the safety pins

Add two safety pins perpendicular to the first two to create a "+" formation. Attach safety pins between each of these four so you have eight, and then attach safety pins between each of the eight until you have 16 safety pins in a starburst pattern.

About the Author

Jonathan Fong is the author of three books: "Walls that Wow," "Flowers that Wow," and "Parties that Wow." He currently hosts the web series "Style With A Smile."