Hot Cocoa Station with Upcycled Vintage Santa Tray

hot cocoa station with pom-poms and upcycled tray

Setting up our hot cocoa station has been the first activity on our Advent calendar two years in a row now (which means it won’t be much of a surprise if I do it again next year). The glass jars are Anchor Hocking from Target that I picked up last year. This year I made the (too big! oops!) tags for them out of cardstock with vintage Santas from The Graphics Fairy. I made a little red and white pom-pom garland, because that’s just what I do this year. I make pom-poms. I framed some of my vintage wrapping paper stash a couple of years ago, so this year I grabbed one of those and leaned it up against the wall behind the pom-poms. We make our own cocoa mix: the regular is this recipe from Martha Stewart, and the sugar free recipe is here.

And then I made over this wooden tray from the thrift store to hold all of our Christmas mugs. I seem not have a true before picture of the tray, sadly. You can see the design still visible in the picture below, after I spray painted the rest of it bright red. It’s original color was a lot like Marsala, Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year. The speed with which I painted right over it should give you some indication of my opinion on the color of the year. I vote Fire Engine Red for color of the year! Or, you know, some nice shade of blue. What’s wrong with blue, Pantone?! Ahem.

Anyway, so I have this box of vintage wrapping paper that I won’t stop talking about, right? Most of the paper has repeating patterns on it, but there was also this sheet that was green with just one big ol’ Santa head on it, the perfect size to go in my new tray.

Longtime readers will perhaps recall what happened the last time I tried to affix paper to wood with Mod Podge, immortalized in the classic post, “DIY Fail: Wrinkly Map of Boston.” To sum up, it did not go well. There were many wrinkles.

So I approached this project with some trepidation. And….this one’s wrinkly, too! But it doesn’t bother me much. I think it’s not AS wrinkly, and it’s supposed to have mugs on it instead of hanging on a wall for everyone to look at, and I think maybe my love for vintage Santa is strong enough to conquer the wrinkles. So I’m going to tell you how I made this, but I cannot, sadly, tell you how to make something like this without wrinkles, because I still don’t know how. I tried to smooth out the wrinkles as much as I could while the Mod Podge was wet, but it’s just thin paper, so I felt like it would tear if I went at them too hard. At this point, I’ve pretty much told you how I made the tray before even starting my official tutorial. But I’ll write it anyway.


Here’s what you need: (affiliate links)

*Ugly Marsala tray from the thrift store

*Mod Podge

*Spray paint (I used Krylon Banner Red)

*Spray acrylic coating

*vintage wrapping paper (or any decorative paper)

First I spray painted the tray’s sides and bottom (you know the drill: keep moving, light, even coats). Then I measured the inside of the tray and cut a square from the wrapping paper to fit. I brushed a bunch of the Mod Podge on the tray and carefully put the paper on it, making attempts to smooth out the wrinkles as I went (incidentally, I used spray adhesive for this step with the wrinkly map fail. I had been hoping that this was where it all went wrong and Mod Podge would work better to keep the wrinkles away. Alas, no). Then I let it dry for few minutes and put a another coat of Mod Podge over the top. This took a very long time to dry, but dry (clear) it finally did:


You can see the wrinkles pretty clearly in this picture:


And then I finished it off with several coats of the spray sealant. So far it’s holding up very well to having cups put on it (it’s been a few weeks now. I’m behind on blogging!)

This tray was is remarkably difficult to get good pictures of. I have no idea why. Anyway, here’s what I got!

santatray01s thrift store tray made over for Christmas

Upcycled thrift store tray made over with vintage Santa gift wrap and spray paint


Santa Tray

Cone Tree Advent Calendar

Framed Gift Wrap


Linking with:

Link Party Palooza




Hot Cocoa Station with Upcycled Vintage Santa Tray — 16 Comments

  1. That tray is adorable now that it’s not marsala and has that vintage Santa!! I love your gift wrap projects. I’m insanely jealous of that find!

  2. Aw, I love it! I don’t think it looks very wrinkly it all. Look at Santa in there with his sassy wave- he’s all “Heyyy, gurl!”

  3. Pingback: 25 Thrift Store Christmas Decor Ideas | Making Lemonade

Like all human bloggers, I love comments :)