How to Transform Holiday Tins

comments (34) January 6th, 2018     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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Turn leftover holiday tins into practical containers to store craft supplies, receipts, loose change, you name it.
Heres how they looked before decoupage. Cute, to be sure—but Christmas is now past!
This project needs simple materials: some wrapping paper, some Mod Podge, and a brush.
Turn leftover holiday tins into practical containers to store craft supplies, receipts, loose change, you name it.

Turn leftover holiday tins into practical containers to store craft supplies, receipts, loose change, you name it.

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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Tins are always great for storage. You can decoupage them with colorful paper to match your craft room or even with pictures of whatever you plan to store inside. Or, if you really like to plan ahead, you can decorate them for (gasp!) Valentine's Day treats!

What you'll need:

  • Assorted tins
  • Painter's tape (see note below)
  • Fine-point Sharpie
  • Lightweight wrapping paper
  • Mod Podge, matte finish
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter (optional)
  • Pencil
  • Sponge brush
  • X-Acto knife
  • Clear acrylic sealer (optional)
  • Embellishments, such as bias tape, trim, ribbon, or buttons
  • Craft glue

A note about paper: You really need thin, lightweight papers for successful decoupage, especially when you're decoupaging to a curved surface, like a round tin. I'm using various wrapping papers here, which work nicely. If you want to use heavier-weight papers, I'd recommend scanning them and printing onto lighter-weight paper first.

buttons More découpage projects:

• How to Découpage a Tray
• How to Transform Holiday Tins
Découpage a Colorful Pendant and Earrings Set!

Mask the top edge of the tin with painter's tape.

To begin, thoroughly wash and dry your tin. Then, you'll need to mask the top edge, as shown. Why? Because a tin is designed so that the base and lid fit together very snugly-this helps keep the tin airtight for storing cookies and such. Unfortunately, if you decoupage the tin where these two pieces fit together, you won't be able to get the lid back on. So you have to leave a strip of the old tin showing. Sorry. You won't be able to see it except when the lid is off.

I'm using blue painter's tape to mask off the edge here. It has a low stickiness, so it'll mask off the tin without damaging the surface. I love painter's tape for all kinds of crafting uses-it's a bit more expensive than masking tape, but masking tape can stick too firmly and create damage when you pull it back up.

You may need to trace along the lid of the tin to create a masking line.

That green tin above has a small ridge where the lid fits, so masking is easy. If your tin doesn't have this kind of ridge, just place the lid onto it and trace around the bottom edge of the lid with a fine-point Sharpie.

Mask along the traced line.

Now you have a line to follow with that masking. (By the way, it's much easier to mask with several shorter pieces of tape than one long one.)

Cut a strip of wrapping paper to fit around the sides of the tin.

Next, cut some wrapping paper to cover the base of the tin. You may find a paper cutter useful for this process. You can cut a strip that wraps around the whole tin, covering it up to the masking...

For a solid-color tin, you may prefer to use paper cutouts.

Or, if you have a tin that's a solid color, you can always use cutouts from the wrapping paper instead. I was able to cut some cute stripes out of this birthday paper.

Cover your work surface. Prepare a small dish of Mod Podge.

Cover your work surface before you begin decoupaging! That Mod Podge will get everywhere. I like to flatten out a paper grocery bag and use that as my surface-it's much cleaner than newspaper.

Pour some Mod Podge into a small dish, and thin it with a few drops of water. It should be the consistency of heavy cream. (If you don't have any Mod Podge, you can also mix plain craft glue with a little water.)

I'm using a sponge brush here because it spreads the glue over a wide area evenly. You can also use a regular paintbrush to spread the glue, but I do find the sponge brush to be easier and give nicer results.

Working in small sections, brush some Mod Podge onto the tin.

Paint some Mod Podge onto the tin. You'll probably find it easiest to work in small sections.

Brush some Mod Podge on the back of the paper. Place the paper onto the tin.

Next, paint a little Mod Podge onto the back of the strip of paper. Begin positioning the paper onto the tin. Continue in this manner, gluing the tin, then the paper, and then putting the paper on the tin, until you've covered the sides.

The paper will have a few wrinkles in it, especially with a round tin. Don't worry too much about this right now.

Brush a generous coat of Mod Podge over the paper.

Paint another coat of Mod Podge on top of the paper-a generous one. This will help saturate the paper with Mod Podge, which helps make it more pliable.

I like to smooth the wrinkles in the paper with my fingers.

Now, about those wrinkles: At this stage, I like to dip my fingers in the Mod Podge and then smooth the wrinkles by hand. I find this to be more effective than trying to smooth them with a paintbrush. Just press the wrinkles down firmly. Some of them will become tiny creases-this is okay. Again, a round tin will manifest this more than a square one. Just flatten them as best you can. There's no way to get the paper completely smooth, but that's okay-it will have plenty of charm when it's done.

Trace the lid onto a fresh sheet of paper.

Now to cover the lid. Place the lid on a fresh sheet of wrapping paper and trace around it lightly. (You can also trace on the back of the paper, of course, but in this case I wanted to make sure the design was placed in a specific way, so I traced on the front.)

Cut 1 inch outside the traced line. Clip the edges.

Cut out the paper about 1 inch outside your traced line. Clip the edges all the way around, up to your traced line.

(By the way, you'd use the same process for a square tin, but you'd only need to make clips around the corners of the paper.)

Brush Mod Podge all over the lid.

Then, repeat the decoupage process: Paint Mod Podge all over the lid, spreading it out to the edges.

The clipped edges help the paper wrap more smoothly over the sides of the lid.

Paint some onto the back of the paper and press it to the lid. Then, paint more Mod Podge on the sides of the lid. Paint some onto those clipped edges, too, and then smooth them over the tin. Use your fingers again to help smooth the clipped edges down.

Let everything dry for about two hours.

Cut away the excess paper with an X-Acto knife.

After drying, use an X-Acto knife to gently cut away any excess paper along the edge of the lid. Most tins have a little lip along the edge of the lid, so you can cut against that for a more precise cut.

Apply another coat of Mod Podge to the lid and base.

Give both the lid and the base a second, generous coating of Mod Podge, and let them dry several hours or overnight. (The Mod Podge looks milky here, but it will dry clear.)

Mod Podge forms a pretty strong protective coating, but you might also want to seal your tin with a few coats of clear sealer.

Remove the masking when all coats have dried completely.

When everything's dry, remove the masking.

Attach embellishments with craft glue.

Now, you can use craft glue to add some embellishments. I'm applying some bias tape to the edge of the lid here. You can also glue on trim, or buttons, or ribbon, or anything else you like.

Using Your Tins: You won't be able to immerse your new tins in water to clean them, but you can wipe them with a damp cloth. If you plan to use them to give cookies or candy, I'd recommend that you pack these in a cellophane bag and then place that in the tin.

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posted in: seasonal, metal, diy tins, storage tins

Comments (34)

finwriter writes: The result is impressive. I like the final photos. I am sure you have done a lot in the past year!
Posted: 7:43 am on August 16th
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Posted: 11:36 pm on June 4th
Reshma Mehto writes: Very Nice. Thanks for sharing with us.
Posted: 1:05 am on April 9th
happyjoy writes: I love getting and giving tins. I'm addicted to Mod Podge. For a tin I am using for crafts I will hot glue the item it is used for on the front (lace, buttons, zipper.) I collect interesting paper napkins to give a tin with the persons interest in mind.
Posted: 1:26 pm on December 27th
MarkSindone writes: Now see this is something a man would never understand. I can get reusing the tins as storage, but the original design was nice enough by itself, why go through all the trouble to cover it up?
Posted: 11:46 pm on September 3rd
UdyRegan writes: The best thing is these storage tins, old shoeboxes, re-usable plastic storage containers or even glass jars can now be given a new lease of life over and over again with this wonderfully put out instructable.
Posted: 9:52 pm on June 30th
EdwardThirlwall writes: Recycling is a really good way to reduce non-biodegradable wastes while creating something useful without the need to spend additional money. This set of reused storage tins looks really creative and attractive which also serves a beneficial purpose at the very same time. These tins would definitely do me good because extra storage space can never go wrong. All the bits and pieces lying all over the place can sit perfectly in these tins and nothing will go missing again.
Posted: 11:53 pm on January 27th
fatticatti47 writes: Great idea. Since retiring I researched the best cost effective (cheapest!) hobby to busy myself with. I came up with découpage. I use a variety of paper napkins/serviettes, PVA glue, pictures from Google images, or scanned pix, wallpaper though very thick, had to sand the back to thinner density, a bit of a pain & very time consuming. My first project was a linen chest which I painter off white sanded, then découped with black & white wallpaper, finishing with @ 5 layers of pva to act as a finish/varnish sanding finely in between each coat. it doesn't 'yellow' with age. Since then I've used empty wine bottles. tins as here, also old food cans,which make great pen bits & bobs holders. For those who wish to take it to greater heights here's a link to US site: with a wonderful gallery of finished products. My personal favourites are magicked into being by UK Roy Larking whose exquisite work is mentioned.
Posted: 7:21 am on January 27th
CraftBinger writes: I love this idea and love this site. I accidentally discovered CraftStylish today and have enjoyed the great ideas and comments.
Now I have some an idea of what I can do with some small pieces of wrapping paper and small pieces of fabric that I just could not throw away. I knew I could find a use for them one day!
Posted: 3:08 pm on April 20th
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Posted: 10:03 am on January 7th
Sarah_Forhan writes: Nice tutorial. The only thing I would add is to rough the tins up with sandpaper first. It really helps the paper and decoupage to stick to the tins. The shiny finish is kind of a pain to work with and for me (best results) was with some sandpaper first. Doesn't look so pretty but nobody sees it anyways once it is covered with paper.
Posted: 3:35 pm on January 5th
Jetmuis writes: what a great idea, love it, i have only painted them and added a lot of kitschy beads and rihnstones on them.
but this is a much easier way. thank you for the sharing and the great tute!!
happy new year;-D
Posted: 5:01 am on January 1st
catplus writes: Nice tutorial. I did a découpage tin recently, but it was a lot messier looking! I picked up some tips for next time. Thanks!
Posted: 11:56 am on September 28th
RelicaJewelry writes:
Thanks for an amazing tutorial, Diane. I've always wanted to do something like this (also with lampshades) but have been reluctant without clear instructions and photos like these.
FYI: An artist and elementary art teacher told me that diluted white glue can work well as a sealant. I think she used a 50/50 formulation and brushed it on papier mache and even clay projects. Just avoid letting it pool, esp. if you use a weaker dilution, because it may look a bit milky. Will try modpodge first. For anybody wanting to embellish or collage, I invite you to check out the supply listings at my Etsy shop. I've been collecting antique stampings and jewelry findings like a bowery bird on crack for fifteen years and must DeStaSh them since my job was downsized. The misfortune of having more time to craft and less money to make it happen. Good luck with your projects, everyone, and thanks again for an amazing tutorial!! Jane RelicaJewelry
Posted: 12:16 pm on March 30th
sink_in writes: Thanks1 I am going to try to do Easter eggs to put bath salts in them.
Posted: 5:45 pm on March 22nd
pdwar5150 writes: oh thank you! people seem to think i cllocet tins and i have soooo many. now i can actually make them into something useful!
Posted: 8:31 pm on January 20th
Carolebarrel writes: I've done similar paper/cloth coverings for open containers used as a desk set with tin cans as pencil/pen caddies, coordinating tuna cans to store stamps and paper clips and covering other desk accessories for writing personal notes such as recycled desk blotters, phone/address book covers. Left over wallpaper is great for this. It even has its own glue when you run out of modpodge. Let your imagination run wild until you cover most anything--great for gifts. I could kill my husband who tends to throw out those great wooden Clementine boxes that are great to cover to store stuff like spools of thread etc. in.
Posted: 11:49 pm on December 30th
47cats writes: Great idea! I like to use napkins for decoupage. Lynn
Posted: 3:49 pm on December 30th
marketmaster writes: Can I print with an inkjet printer, or will the Mod Podge pull the ink?
Posted: 2:35 pm on December 30th
kelodia writes: wonderful works,i will try to make my own DIY project.
Posted: 2:21 am on December 30th
IrishMissy writes: I didn't get any this year but the thrift stores usually has them cheap.
Posted: 7:16 pm on December 29th
Lunamoth writes: Right, KatyKat, because Christmas is the ONLY holiday that happens, ever, and only those celebrants use cookie/candy tins.
Posted: 2:56 pm on December 29th
needswaterdaily writes: Lovely tutorial. And got a chuckle from KatyKat's post. She's so busy critiziing your use of words she spelled Creator wrong. Must have been a typo...
Posted: 1:33 pm on December 29th
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: Bias tape on the edge of the lid! BRILLIANT! I love it! :)
Posted: 11:33 pm on December 30th
gramcracker writes: A great idea, Diane. EVEH..I know where my mod podge's in my large plastic ice cream container, I keep my paints in there too. My house is full of tins and neat boxes that I plan to do something with...some day. I did finally turn my velveeta cheese boxes into small file boxes for my fabric stash.I covered them with contact paper then made cards that fit nicely into the boxes. On the cards I staple a small sample of fabric, then I write the amount of each piece and laundry info. on it, the amt. used for a project. Also,the date of puchase and the price paid.

Posted: 10:39 pm on December 29th
CalPatch writes: long live Mod Podge! this is a great idea.yours look beautiful! i've always meant to re-cover those round cardboard containers (i eat a lot of oatmeal) too...
Posted: 1:21 pm on December 27th
eveh writes: Thanks Diane. I was just sitting here staring at four of those sitting on my dresser. I usually just put them away with Christmas decorations in them. But You do get too many after a while. I could use some containers for my extra lace, buttons and beads. The ones that I have been staring at, are small ones and not very useful for too much storage but would be great for these small things.

So, : ) away we go to Michaels to get a jar of Mod Podge, which I know I have around here somewhere, but where? Maybe I will use one of these tall shape tins to store my Mod POdge. Then I would know where it was at. LOL Maybe this will kick start my ever perennial first resolution come the New Year. I Will Get Organized. Then of course, lose some weight and exercise more. Oh yeah, I know you all do that too. LOL
Posted: 12:02 pm on December 27th
KatyKat writes: I'm looking forward to trying this, but I would have been happier to see the tile use Christmas or Holy Day rather than the latter's secularized contraction. If you're going to use your Creater and only Redeemer's birthday to sell magazines, you should acknowledge it as such.
Posted: 8:08 am on December 27th
walkinthewoodsllc writes: What a beautiful idea! And one more to add to my long, long list of fun and useful things to do!
Posted: 7:16 am on December 27th
angelwingz writes: this looks fabulous... i think it would be great to really 'collage' the tins up and let loose on them ;)
Posted: 7:09 am on December 27th
Tally writes: *thanks*

I might use it for "commercial" tin cans as well
Posted: 2:03 am on December 27th
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