How Do I Reuse a Tray? 17 Serving Tray Makeovers

Serving Tray MakeoversPoor serving trays. Why are they always so ugly?

Serving trays are super easy to find second-hand, but for some reason they’re almost always terribly gaudy, the poor things.

But your collection of gaudy serving trays? Those are just serving tray makeovers waiting to happen!

Gather up your gaudiest serving trays, and check out these makeover tutorials. Find something that you like, make it happen, and save an innocent serving tray from a future garage sale.

NOTE: Some of these tutorials will call for a non-eco-friendly sealant such as epoxy or polyurethane. You may find using an ingredient such as this worth it in upcycling a tray that’s otherwise bound for disposal, or you may want to experiment with alternatives like beeswax or Mod Podge.

1. backgammonBackgammon is basically designed to be homemade from upcycled trays.

2. boot trayThe tray in this tute is built from scratch, but if you kept your eyes open, you could totally score a tray large enough to repurpose for this project.

3. bottle capsIf you’re into craft beers, this tray project that shows off all your bottle caps, and makes them serviceable, is the project for you!

4. chalk paint menu boardTrays are perfect for repurposing on your wall. This tray makeover uses chalk paint to turn an old tray into a menu board.

5. display caseA partitioned tray can be repapered and turned into display for jewelry or other pretty things.

6. family treeTurn a large tray into a family heirloom.

7. faux drawerHere’s how to make a tray look like a drawer. It’s the perfect look for a divided bookshelf or set of cubbies.

8. LEGO trayThe flat surface of a tray makes it great for upcycling into a portable LEGO table for a kid.

9. monogramThis monogrammed tray would make a wonderful wedding gift!

10. mosaicYou can use anything that you want for the tiles here–broken pottery, buttons, mismatched tiles from your local Restore–because the final layer of epoxy resin will even it out.

11. mosaic without resinHere’s a more eco-friendly way to mosaic a tray bottom, if you don’t need the tray’s surface to be flat and smooth.

12. recycled paper decoupageYou can use your favorite papers for this upcycling project–vintage sheet music and vintage wallpaper are especially lovely choices.

13. rose petalsPressed rose petals look beautiful when sealed with epoxy resin to a white serving tray. Any pressed flowers or greenery, I think, would look just as pretty.

14. stencilsAfter a couple of coats of chalk paint and some careful stenciling, you can’t tell that these trays used to be thrift store rejects!

15. twineSimply wrapping twine around a tray’s handles give the tray a completely different feel.

16. vintage mapsTry this method to show off larger cuts of paper, especially maps.

17. wreathThe tute uses Dollar Store trays, but this wreath would be especially gorgeous made entirely from thrifted metal trays.

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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