DIY Sustainability Upcycling

Decorate Gift Packages with Stencils and Chalk

Decorate Gift Packages with Stencils and Chalk

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

Decorate Gift Packages with Stencils and Chalk

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to make your own stencils from recycled food container lids and use them to decorate personalized gift packages. Many of the stencil designs I used in my demo were traced from nostalgic Christmas cookie cutters that were passed down to me from parents and grandparents. They bring back a lot of happy memories of doing holiday crafts and baking with my Mom. Most of the time making things in preparation for the Holiday was more fun for me than the actual event!

I designed this project to be something you can do with kids, but I think anyone who enjoys being a little bit playful and making eco-friendly packaging would enjoy this – I know that I had a great time!

Part 1 – Making the Stencils

Tools and Materials – *indicates available at Schnarr’s
Self-healing cutting mat
*X-acto knife or craft knife and blades
*Sharpie marker
Cookie cutters
Cleaned plastic food container lids

1. Take an old plastic food container lid and cut off the rim.

2. Choose a cookie cuttter or some other object to use as a template and trace around it with pencil on a piece of paper. Or if you have no such object, draw a simple shape of your choice.

3. Place the food lid piece over the drawing and trace the outline with a permanent marker. Cut out the shape with a craft knife, scissors, or some combination of the two.


Part 2 – Applying Chalkboard Paint to the Paper

Tools and Materials – *indicates available at Schnarr’s
*Kraft paper or the backs of recycled grocery bags
*Chalkboard paint
*Small sponges
*Painter’s tape or *masking tape
Cleaned plastic food container lids

1. If you are using the backs of recycled grocery bags, you can get a lot of the folds and wrinkles out of them first by ironing them between pieces of clean scrap paper. Spread paper down on your work surface and tape edges to hold in place.

2. Dab some chalkboard paint onto an old food lid and dip a small sponge into it. Place your stencil on the paper and tape down if necessary to hold it steady. Dab the sponge gently inside the cutout area and slowly apply the paint. Increase the amount of pressure and paint if necessary to get full coverage. If you apply the paint gently and gradually, you can avoid applying too much and having it bleed under the stencil.

Here I am stencling chalkboard paint onto the kraft paper. I recommend that you apply the chalk after wrapping the package, but in this demo I drew with chalk on some of the shapes while I was still stenciling so that people would see the possibilities of the chalkboard paint.

3. Lift stencil straight up to avoid smearing and repeat until the whole piece of paper is covered to your satisfaction. Let the paper dry.

4. Wrap the package after the paint is dry.


Part 3 – Adding More Decoration

Tools and Materials – *indicates available at Schnarr’s
Colored chalk
*Baker’s twine or decorative string
*Gift tags
Spray fixative (optional)


Here is a selection of wrapped boxes and decorating materials to give you an idea of how you can combine markers, stickers, ribbon, twine and tags with your chalked designs.

Tip: If your package is going to get handled a lot before presenting, you can spray your chalk work with spray fixative to protect it. Spray fixative is a product artists sometimes use to protect pencil, chalk, pastel and other media that might smear, and it is available at art supply stores.

Drawing with both markers and chalk is great fun!


On this sample, I sponged the chalkboard paint around a cutout star that was left over when I made a six-pointed star stencil. Combined with royal blue marker drawn through another stencil and light blue chalk I made a Hanukkah design.

Part 4 – Making Gift Tags

Tools and Materials – *indicates available at Schnarr’s
Scrap chipboard or cardstock
*Chalkboard paint
*Baker’s twine or decorative string
Hole punch
Spray fixative (optional)

It’s easy to make chalkboard gift tags to go along with your chalk-enhanced gift packages.

1. Paint some chalkboard paint onto one side of some scrap chipboard or card stock and let dry.

2. Use your stencils to trace shapes onto the unpainted side with pencil and cut out. You can make your tags tag-shaped or any other shape you like that fits your theme.

3. Punch a hole at the top of your tag and attach a piece of ribbon or twine using a lark’s head knot.

4. Use chalk to write on the tag and protect with spray fixative if necessary.

DIY Home Decor

Holiday Table Runner With Wired Burlap Ribbon

Holiday Table Runner With Wired Burlap Ribbon

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

To celebrate the Holiday season, here are instructions for making a table runner that uses some of the wired burlap ribbon that we sell in the gift wrap and decoration aisle at Schnarr’s Hardware in Ladue.

Tools and Materials
*indicates items available at Schnarr’s
Wired burlap ribbon*
Several different colors of felt
Ball-point pen*
Several different colors of embroidery floss
Embroidery sewing needle
Fabric Scissors
Masking tape*
Seed beads
Sewing needle small enough to go through seed beads while threaded
Sewing thread
Scrap chipboard
Washable fabric marker (optional)

Rolls of wired burlap ribbon that are available at Schnarr's Hardware in Ladue.
Rolls of wired burlap ribbon that are available at Schnarr’s Hardware in Ladue.

Cut a piece of wide burlap ribbon the length that you want for your table runner, plus about 4 extra inches for hemming. Before cutting, tape a piece of masking tape just inside where you plan to cut. The tape will help keep the ends of the ribbon from unraveling while you work.

Pin down the hems on the ends but don’t sew yet.

Fold wired burlap ribbon lengthwise and pin along the long sides of the wide ribbon.

Use a large needle and full thickness of one of your colors of embroidery thread to sew the ribbon in place with a running stitch just inside the wired edge.

Draw simple ornament designs or other holiday designs of your choice onto scrap chipboard. Cookie cutters are a great source for simple holiday shapes. Depending on how long your table runner is, you could possibly need a lot of felt shapes, so that’s why I suggest preparing chipboard shape templates to trace around. It’s quicker and easier than tracing around a cookie cutter. If you have stencils with designs you like, you could also use those or cut your own custom stencils.

Using the ball-point pen, trace shapes onto the back of your felt pieces. Cut out shapes.

Place felt shapes on your runner in an arrangement that you like. Pin in place.

Sew a running stitch along the edges of the felt shapes, attaching them to the wide burlap ribbon.

Stitch details to your shapes using a running stitch or other embroidery techniques of your choice with the various embroidery thread colors. If it helps to figure out where to sew details, you can draw the lines on the felt with a washable fabric marker. After you’re done sewing on the details, dab any washable marker marks that show with a damp cloth to get rid of them.

Accent the shapes with a few sequins. Hold the sequins on by bringing a thread from the back through a bead, around the side of the bead then back down through the sequin. Go back through each bead at least twice for durability. Sew a few beads by themselves among the sequins if you want to.

Pin and fold strips of fabric in a complementary color to the ends to cover up the raw edge of the ribbon. Sew in place with embroidery thread.

When the Holiday season is over, store your table runner rolled up so that the wire in the ribbon does not kink.

I have made a similar table runner using a fall leaf design. Here is a link to instructions on my blog:
Fall Table Runner with Wired Burlap Ribbon