Easy Way to Personalize a Crate or Basket


Hi folks! Welcome to Drop Dead Thrifty. We’re so glad you’re here! Grab a drink, let’s get started.

Okay, I literally (no exaggeration) have over nine-hundred pix of for DIY posts I’ve gathered while thinking, “Someday I’ll start a DIY blog…” So for my first post I just picked a random project that’s really easy and can pack a BIG punch in a room and look just like you bought it at some fancy decorating store.

We love those types of projects, right?

Keep in mind I’m a gitter-done type of DIYer, meaning I try not to take on projects that take too long or are too nit-picky. We need quick satisfaction. Am I right, ladies??

This is one of those projects. I created it for a nursery for my little girl, back when she was young enough that I could make girly things for her. Now she’s a five year old super hero fanatic. So poo. No more girly for her. Oh well…maybe she’ll come back around and I can make her room look like Shabby Chic threw-up in it, which is what I really want to do.

In the meantime, I’ll let my little force of nature celebrate her super heroes. In her words, she likes them so much because “they’re powa-full, mommy.” And that’s a pretty good thing I suppose.

Here she is on a random trip to Costco:



One of the great things about this project, though, is it can be used for any room and any occasion. Here are some ideas:

  • Personalize a basket to put a gift in (birthdays, weddings, new baby)
  • Make a Fall basket or crate for decorating! It can say FALL or HALLOWEEN or BOO or BRR… (a BRR… basket for hats and gloves would be adorable! Or for firewood!)
  • The word can be a person or pet’s name or whatever you want to store in the basket: Books, Toys, etc.

First find a container. I used a hard-sided, canvas crate I found at Meijer (a Wal-Mart type grocery store/everything store). You could use a woven basket, but keep your letters very blocky if you do or you’ll lose the definition.


Open a word processing program on your computer, pick a font and type your word. You’ll need to make the font size ginormous. Print it out and hold it up to your crate to judge the size until you have it right. I used RIDDLE font for mine. To make it simple, I did not cut out all of the “holes” in the letters. I let them be more…abstract, and I think it gives a stylish look. (Plus there’s no way to keep the “holes” in place really. You can place them individually, but placing all of them that way was too piddly for me to mess with, so I just said, “screw ‘em”!) You’ll understand this more when you look at my letters in the picture.

With an Exacto-style knife, cut out your letters very carefully on a surface you won’t scratch up!


(See the oval g-holes up top? Those are for the top holes of the g, but I just tossed the bottom holes.) Too piddly!

Once your word is cut out, you have your stencil. Get some adhesive craft spray. I used this:


I can’t speak for other craft sprays, but I know with this stuff, if you let it dry until it gets tacky, then you can lift off what you glued down, much like a Post-It note. That’s the “action” you’re looking for from your craft spray.

Spray down the BACKSIDE of the stencil, including the backside of any “holes” you’ve set aside. Yeah, I said backside, you naughty girl. Don’t soak it, but get it good. Get that backside good. (I’m crackin’ myself up.) Make sure you put something behind it that can be thrown away because obviously sticky overspray will get on it.


Okay, now this part is key: let it dry just a little until the adhesive is tacky but not wet. The adhesive is meant to keep the stencil in position for painting, but then pull cleanly off. If you’re impatient like me and you don’t wait, you’ll end up with adhesive stuck to your crate that will never come off: [This is an ongoing theme of this blog…don’t be like me.]



Oh well! Remember…nothing needs to be perfect. If you’re like me and you see only THE FLAWS in everything you make, do this little trick I learned. Go look closely at the stuff around the house that you bought. I guarantee you’ll find tons of flaws and imperfections you never noticed. When you make it yourself, you notice everything, but when you buy it, you don’t really look at it that closely. Give yourself the same break you give everything else made my machines!

Carefully place the stencil where you want it on the crate or basket or box. Use a skewer or some other pokey thing to ensure the points of your stencil are in the correct places and pushed down. Don’t press everything too much because you don’t want to work the adhesive into the surface of your crate. Just pat it all down flat.


I didn’t think ahead and buy special paint, so I just grabbed some acrylic paint from my husband’s art stuff. Probably any type of paint would work. I chose white. I was feeling pretty lazy at this point because so far the whole craft had taken me, like TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES, meaning I was already bored (A.D.D. anyone??), so I didn’t feel like finding a sponge or something to paint with, so I just grabbed another plastic grocery bag and wadded it up. I could toss it in the trash when I was done, and it would give me the imperfect look I was going for. Other options include a wadded up piece of paper or tin foil. Or newspaper. Paper towel. Any trash of any sort, really. (Well, probably not.) Ooh, coffee filter! Okay, you get the idea.


[Paint and wadded up, plastic grocery sack]

Since I was all about wadded up, plastic grocery sacks at this point, I used one for my palette as well and just squirted the paint on there, using it to dip back into. (Again, I could toss it out without having to clean it! I mean…I could recycle it back at the store in the plastic bag recycling bins. Seriously ya’ll, I really am a serious recycler in general, so don’t hate me for my plastic bags here.)

Start dipping your bag into the paint and dabbing at the stencil. A sponging technique is what you want here, i.e. not wiping, so the paint doesn’t sneak under the edges of the stencils. I just gently dabbed, keeping the coverage spotty to achieve the look I wanted.



Now carefully, before your paint dries, peel off your stencil. Remember the paint is still wet, so DON’T touch the painted sections!


That’s it! Let it dry as you stare at it proudly while drinking beer. Or maybe that’s just what I do. 🙂

Here’s a pic of the crate I had in there before, and the new crate I made for her, after:


We had turned her crib into a toddler bed at this point. That’s an old-school, Jenny Lind style crib that I bought used and fixed up….as is my way. 🙂



If you try it, send us a pic!

Thanks for stopping by at Drop Dead Thrifty!

~~ Piper

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