True fact: fancy picnic crates make picnic food taste better. Not only that, they also prevent sunburn and make your hair shiny!
Okay, no. Those are not true facts. Picnic crates are just boxes, made of wood. No special powers involved.
But a fun crate might make a Fourth of July picnic more festive! That really is a true fact, so I thought I’d show you two ways you could decorate crates for summer picnicking.
I believe the first rule of crafting is this: There’s no such thing as perfect; all that matters is that you like what you made. I hope these suggestions inspire you to do what will make you happy this summer.
If you like the idea of a picnic crate but have zero minutes for crafting, just pick up a crate at the craft store, stick a flag in with your food, and call it a day.
If you have five minutes, line the bottom of the crate with a red-white-and-blue tablecloth before packing your food. Good to go.
If you have a little more time on your hands and want to do some holiday crafting: I’ve got you covered.
First up: Painted stripes
Blue and white stripes give a plain crate a nautical feel that works for the Fourth of July, or any time.
- A crate.
- Acrylic craft paint.
- Painter’s tape.
- A foam roller and/or paint brush.
Paint the outside of the crate white using a foam roller.
When the white paint is dry, use painter’s tape to mark your stripes. I went for irregular blue stripes on the crate’s slats.
Paint the exposed areas, then peel the tape up while the paint is still damp.
You can always touch up your stripes when the paint dries, but don’t worry too much about imperfections here—they add character.
Another option: An image transfer
Transferring a printed image onto wood lends a vintage look to a new crate. Here’s how to do it.
- A crate.
- An image, printed in reverse.
- CitraSolv (citrus-based solvent, found at natural grocery stores).
- A cotton ball or a bunched-up paper towel.
- A Popsicle stick or other flat-edged tool.
Create an image to transfer onto your crate. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Mine is just clip art, surrounded by text.
Using graphic software, or even word processing software, flip your image so that it appears backwards, as in a mirror. Check your program’s Help menu if you’re not sure how to do this.
Once your image is reversed, print it, preferably with a laser printer. If that’s not an option, take your printout and make a photocopy. (The toner from a copy machine or laser printer will transfer better than an inkjet printout.)
Decide where on your crate you want your image, then sand with fine-grit sandpaper. The smoother your surface, the more easily your image will transfer.
Tape the image in place, toner side directly on the wood.
Using the paper towel or cotton ball, dab CitraSolv all over the printer paper. Just a little should do it!
Rub over the paper with the flat edge of a Popsicle stick to help details transfer more thoroughly.
Peel off the tape and lift the paper carefully to avoid smudging.
Imperfection is part of the charm here — we’re going for a handmade, vintage-y look.
You can seal your crate with mod podge or wood sealant if you like.
Picnic crates, ready for celebrating!
Grab a couple of flags and tuck them in the corners for good measure.
NOW we’re ready for the Fourth of July.
What do you think? Should crafts be more precise, or more about expressing your own ideas? How do you feel about introducing handmade to your holidays—is it fun, or stressful?