How To Style A Christmas Vintage Printers Tray

Reusing Old Christmas Cards To Style A Vintage Printers Tray

Before I started blogging (when I had more time!). I used to print with a letterpress as a hobby. I still have my old printing presses and vintage printers tray. Actually, I have half a dozen vintage printers trays so I thought I’d style one as a Christmas decoration.
The vintage printers tray was styled in such a way that it is easily returned to its original state when needed. You can often find printers tray’s on auction sites and in junk stores. However, if you don’t have one or can’t find one I also have tips for upcycling a wooden cutlery tray into a Christmas decoration.
I had so much fun with this DIY Christmas decoration. Cutting up the old Christmas cards was my favourite bit. Before doing this upcycle I’d forgotten how much I love to collage. I think in pictures rather than words and collage is an easy way for me to express myself.
Instead of keeping a diary of my travels when I was younger I used to collect, pictures, maps, tables etc and do a collage instead. Many years ago after spending a year traveling around South East Asia, I decoupaged a tailors dummy with the images I collected over the year as my own travel journal.
I’ve always wanted to make a shadow box after seeing an exhibition of the artist Joseph Cornell at the Royal Academy a few years ago. This styled vintage printers tray is like a giant Christmas shadow box.
Keeping with the theme of printing and letterpress I made my own letter blocks for the tray spelling out one of my favourite Christmas phrases. “Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum” from the chorus of the “The Little Drummer Boy
Vintage printers tray Christmas Shadow box pin 2
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What You Need to Style A Vintage Printers Tray

    • Vintage printers tray – If you don’t have one, check eBay or your local junk/antique stores.

      Vintage printers tray

    • Last years Christmas cards – If you didn’t happen to keep last years Christmas cards to repurpose you can find many vintage images on sites such as TheGraphicsFairy and Pictureboxblue to download. Also, Christmas catalogs and magazines are a good source for Christmas images.
      Old Christmas cards

    • Length of wood that can be cut up into pieces small enought to fit into the vintage printers tray compartments

    • Red chalk paint, white paint and dark wood wax

    • Letter stencil ruler

    • Assortment of small Christmas decorations and mini baubles including mini bottle brush Christmas trees.


  • Glue dots

    How to Style A Vintage Printers Tray for Christmas

    1. The first thing is to make the letter blocks. Cut the blocks down to size so that they fit in the printer tray boxes. Then sand and paint them red and then stencil on the letters of your chosen Christmas phrase onto each block. When the paint is dry rub the blocks with dark wax to age them.
      Making letters for printer tray

    3. Next, cut out any Christmas pictures and words from old Christmas cards and magazines etc, that you like. Make sure that they will fit in the printers tray.
      cut out christmas cards

    5. The final thing is to gather the 3 elements, letters, pictures and ornaments to create the Chritmas shadow box from the vintage printers tray. I used glue dots to stick the items in the box. This made them easy to move around as I changed my mind.
      Placing the items in the compartments is a matter of trial and error but try to mix up the pictures, trees and ornaments so that they are not all clubbed together.

    Printers tray Christmas shadow box
    Filling a vintage printers tray for Christmas
    Vintage Christmas Printers Tray into Christmas Shadow box
    Christmas shadow box from an old printers tray

    How Make Chirstmas Shadow box from a Wooden Cutlery Tray

    Whilst repurposing the vintage Christmas tray I remembered I had an old IKEA wooden cutlery tray lying about in the shed. I shoved it in there a year ago thinking that I might think of something to do with it one day. Well, that day came! I decided to make a Christmas shadow box out of this tray too!
    Old IKEA wooden cutlery tray

    1. Firstly, I painted the inside of the tray with black chalkboard paint. The outside of the cutlery tray was stained with walnut wood stain.

    3. Next, I got some Christmas stencils and painted a few Christmas images onto the black chalkboard with white paint.
      Painting IKEA wooden cutlery tray
      painted and stenciled cutlery tray

    5. Finally, I filled the cutlery tray repurposed into a Christmas shadow box with some of my favourite ornaments

    Upcycled IKEA cutlery tray into a Christmas Shadow box

    Repurposed Christmas Shadow boxes
    Vintage printers tray Christmas Shadow box

    8 Responses

    1. This is wonderful, Claire! I’d love to find one of these old printer trays! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

    2. Wow! What a lovely project :).

    3. Wow, that turned out fantastic, great job! Thanks so much for sharing.

    4. RS

      I am a vintage seller on Etsy and have acquired a huge amount of printer trays which I have been selling steadily. This year I decided to decorate trays with various themes such as tea parties with tiny china, Halloween decor and Christmas. I truly enjoyed this post.

      • Thank you. The trays are fun to decorate. I think I’m going to decorate a tray for the different seasons and keep it on display all year round. I like the idea of tea parties.

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