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. backgammon. Backgammon is basically designed to be homemade from upcycled trays.
2. boot tray. The 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 caps. If 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 board. Trays are perfect for repurposing on your wall. This tray makeover uses chalk paint to turn an old tray into a menu board.
5. display case. A partitioned tray can be repapered and turned into display for jewelry or other pretty things.
6. family tree. Turn a large tray into a family heirloom.
7. faux drawer. Here’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 tray. The flat surface of a tray makes it great for upcycling into a portable LEGO table for a kid.
9. monogram. This monogrammed tray would make a wonderful wedding gift!
10. mosaic. You 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 resin. Here’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 decoupage. You can use your favorite papers for this upcycling project–vintage sheet music and vintage wallpaper are especially lovely choices.
13. rose petals. Pressed 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. stencils. After 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. twine. Simply wrapping twine around a tray’s handles give the tray a completely different feel.
16. vintage maps. Try this method to show off larger cuts of paper, especially maps.
17. wreath. The tute uses Dollar Store trays, but this wreath would be especially gorgeous made entirely from thrifted metal trays.