Customizing Wooden Toy Boxes

A custom, wooden toy box is a project that can provide a lifetime of happy memories. Here are a few tips on creating your own with or without the help of the box owner:

For Any Child

Make your toy box not only a functional storage place, but a true memory box as well. Your box, outfitted with slow-closing hinges to avoid crushed little fingers can be a living scrapbook.  On the top of the painted or stained box, glue the child's name with matching and/or embellished wooden letters obtained from the craft store. Then decoupage the child’s photo from preschool or earlier to the left of center on the top. You might want to include a few photos from family vacations or relatives.

As your child gets older, use a very fine grade of sandpaper each year to remove a little varnish and grime. Then simply decoupage your new additions and lightly varnish again. Follow yearly with a photo of the child with a toy that might be stored in the box until the no-more-toy-box-years.  

For The Girly-Girl

An all-out girly toy box makes for a great baby shower gift or a treasured keepsake for your own child. The toy box, whether a true box or perhaps a trunk, is the perfect display of your girly-girl’s spirit.

Get out that glue gun! Go to any crafts store and purchase grosgrain ribbons, rick-rack and simply glue along the borders of your painted or stained box. Paint or stain store-bought lettering of the child’s name, and of course, add lots of glitter. Decals of favorite animals are also an easy way to add a personal touch.

In addition, create bows (or have the nice lady at the craft store do it for you) and glue to the non-hinging edges of the toy box. Special fabric starches are also available at craft stores to make sure your bows last for years to come. After you’ve added your ribbons and bows--and don’t forget a mirror and some embellishments inside your toy box--coat your handiwork with clear glittery varnish. 

A Guy’s Box of Stuff

Decoupage, photos, and just “stuff” can create a wonderful toy box for a boy that can eventually be part of a man’s cherished toolbox.

For instance, simply spray-painting a two-tone “camo” look on a box or trunk instantly creates an boy-centric toy box. Or consider favorite team decals or stickers, decoupaged Cub Scout badges, trading cards, or even glued-on fabric from outgrown favorite chambray or madras shirts. Then thickly varnish with a ton-toxic product.

Inside the box, hang some wire shelving with some containers for tools for boys of all ages. That is, first have some plastic hammers and screwdrivers; then substitute for the real thing later.