How to Build a Crate Christmas Display

8 Materials
4 Hours

This post was written in collaboration with DecoArt. All opinions are ours.

Hometalk has partnered with DecoArt to bring branded content to our community as of way of sharing products we know, trust, and use! We didn’t hesitate to say ‘yes’ when asked to participate because we have successfully used DecoArt paints and products in MANY projects. DecoArt provided the paints which inspired today’s project!

Over the years, I’ve (Vicki) collected lots of holiday and winter decor. But as my collections have grown, a way to display those things has become limited! There is only so much horizontal space in my house, so the logical thing to do is make use of vertical space.

Steph came up with a cool idea to build custom sized crates to create a display “tree.”

Read along as we share how this all came together.

We are using standard pine lumber to create three crates that are 30 inches long, 20 inches long, and 10 inches long. These can be made smaller or larger based on what you are displaying.

Here Steph is marking the first of the two 30 inch long boards for the largest crate.

We are making all our cuts on a miter saw, but this can be done with whatever saw you have. Just be sure whatever you are using, you’re following all the safety precautions.

Each of the three crates use 6 side pieces, so we had 18 in all to cut. Tip: We set up a stop block to help cut the boards quickly and accurately so we wouldn’t have to measure or mark each one. Our stop block is that clamp you see in the lower right hand corner.

Ahhh, this is always one of my favorite things—seeing all the lumber freshly cut and ready to be assembled!

Here’s the cut list for our custom crates:

From the 1x10 boards (2) 30in (2) 20in (2) 10in

From the 1x4 boards (3) 30in (3) 20in (3) 10in (18) 10in

5/8in wood square dowels (12) 10-5/8in

Prior to assembly, I primed all the freshly cut boards with DecoArt Chalk Gesso. At this point in the build, we did not know exactly what finish colors we were going to use so I wanted to prime with the gesso that was neither to light or too dark. By mixing the two, I got exactly what I needed. I used a trim roller to easily and quickly paint all the boards. This stuff dries really quickly and provides the perfect base for the final paint finish. This has been my go-to method of priming raw wood since it was introduced last year. I use it not only on wood, but glass, ceramics, and more.

Once everything was dry, it was time to assemble! We are using wood glue and a brad nailer, although you could use a hammer and nails. The tops and bottoms are attached to the long back pieces, then wood dowels are secured at the top and bottom of the sides, then the three side pieces are added. Tip: clean up the wood glue before it dries. It is difficult to clean up after it dries.

Here are all the crates primed and assembled, prior to painting and the addition of the metal pipe connectors.

Time to paint! We decided not to go with the traditional red and green color scheme. My preferred decorating scheme is blue, silver, glittery, and all things shiny! You’ll find this blue color in much of my everyday decor so this DecoArt Chalky Finish in Treasure was the perfect choice! I’m rolling on the color and using a small brush to paint the tops of the boards. This paint also dries very quickly. This is going on everywhere but the interior.

Remember where I said I like things glittery and shiny? This DecoArt Galaxy Glitter in Clear Ice Comet gave me the glitter I needed without, you know, the glittery mess! Tip: at least two coats are needed. Don’t panic if the first coat doesn’t look good. With the addition of the second, it will be perfect. Notice how I’m holding the brush. I found the paint went on more evenly by using more of the flat side of the brush rather than the tip.

All the interior parts are getting two coats of DecoArt Extreme Sheen in Silver. You can see its reflective qualities in the final pictures! Tip: Brush this in one direction only for best results. The DecoArt website has some great tip on how to use it to create different looks. I used a combination of roller and brush. That’s a lazy Susan I’m painting on. It makes it easier to move the box to see where I need to paint.

The last step is to add the pipe hardware. We marked the placement of the flange and screwed it into place. The top and bottom boxes get a single flange and the middle box gets one on the top and one on the bottom. The flanges and short pipe pieces is what keeps it all together. 

Almost ready, but we have one tweak to do! We originally were going to use this concrete base you see in the picture, but once we moved the tree into the house, we realized the base was not needed. If you want to make the base, here is a tutorial on how we made it.

All finished! I love the reflectiveness of Extreme Sheen and Galaxy Glitter. Notice the boxes are not square to each other. Using the pipe between the boxes allowed us to angle them so that different parts can be seen from various areas of my living room!

More glittery goodness!

We did decide not to use a base and just put this on a flat surface, you could add legs or the concrete base if you want it to be free standing. I added some glittery snowflakes to the inside of the boxes and some poly-fil “snow” between and behind the crates. On the top is a lighting socket (there’s a link to it) in which I added a cool LED star light bulb. This particular one is not available, but I’ve linked to something similar. 

If you want to see this project come together in video, tune in as we share this on HometalkTV December 4th at 11am!

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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3 of 17 comments
  • Maude LaFountain
    on Nov 27, 2019

    Oh My !! that is just awesome !!...I love this and it will be on my list to do next year I am saving this project for sure !!! ....Thanks for posting

    • Mother Daughter Projects
      on Nov 27, 2019

      I'm so glad you like it. We made another one that will go in Steph's house for her Christmas village. Be sure to watch our HometalkTV live on December 4 where we will be sharing this project! Vicki

  • MaryAnn
    on Dec 9, 2019

    Thank you! Thank you. I've an Olive Wood Nativity Set that needs a new stable. Now I know just how to do it. I think one of those prefab wooden storage crates will do it perfectly. Yay! It would fit perfectly under the tree. That is French tradition, to put the nativity under the tree. It will also keep Mika from wiping the figures out with her tail or swiping them to hide! Yours is lovely! A little complicated for me these days. But a great inspiration. Thank you again! MA Happy Holidays.

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