DIY Gift Idea: Painted Tray

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I posted this last year, but thought those that are new to the blog might enjoy it.   Here’s an easy tutorial for a handmade gift you can paint for kids… or, kids can decorate these themselves to give as gifts!


As you may know, my daughter has some feeding issues as a result of an injury at birth.  We’re trying new and inventive ways to get her to eat.  I thought maybe a lap tray would bring the meal down to her level and give her a fun place to eat.  It could also be used for crafts, reading, or breakfast in bed when she gets older. 

She had other ideas.

I actually made this as a Christmas gift for her but she got to it while I was snapping photos for the blog.  Maybe someday she’ll use it as a tray?

Maybe not.

{edited to add: she does indeed now use it as a tray.  It works beautifully!  It has made feeding time fun for her.  She’ll actually take food over and sit at her tray and eat it– that’s a huge step for her!} 


This was very easy to make and extremely budget friendly.  The only materials you need are a plastic lap tray (I found this one at Michaels, and with a coupon it was about $4).  The paint pens were the most expensive part at $4.25 each, but a good investment because they can be used over and over again.  I kept it simple with just 3 colors.


1.  Choose a few paint pen colors to match the lap tray.  If you don’t have an idea of what you’d like to paint, browse images and fonts online and come up with a plan.  {note: I didn’t really have a plan; I just made it up as I went and was still pretty happy about it!  You don’t always know what will look good until you try it.}

2.  Use a pencil or piece of chalk to mark the outline of the name.  I made a few marks as to where I wanted each letter to be so I didn’t run out of room, and then freehanded it.  Paint pens are very forgiving (in my opinion) and make great lines.  Then, go ahead and paint.  The fumes are pretty noxious, so be sure to do this in a ventilated area.  When finished with the name, I added polka dots and surrounded it with  swirls as a decoration.  Hint: don’t aim for perfection.  Remember that this is handmade; it looks better if some of the letters are tilted and the dots are different sizes!

3.  Let it dry.  It’s THAT easy!  It only took about 20 minutes to paint.

What I like so much about this project was that the trays come in a variety of colors and I’m excited to see what I can come up with for all the kiddos in my life.  You can really customize them to the child.  I’m waiting to see what Baby Bee favors before making one for him around his first birthday!

I’ve linked this to the Painted Holiday CSI Project Challenge this week.  Which might be breaking the rules because it isn’t necessarily holiday related but it certainly could be if you crafted it in Christmas themes or as a cookie tray for Santa.  Really, though, I think they’d look awesome under the tree as gifts for someone special.  😉

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