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Decorate a Tray Using a Goodwill Find

Learn to decorate a tray with this simple tutorial! You’re going to love the before and after of this $3 Goodwill find. SO easy to do.

Skills Required: Beginner. If you’ve only used Mod Podge a little, that’s fine – you’ll be cutting paper and decoupaging it on a tray.

Decorate a Tray Using a Goodwill Find

Hi everyone! I’m Courtney, from Crafts by Courtney. This is my first time writing for Amy and I’m so excited to share my newest Mod Podge creation . . . a nautical themed serving tray makeover! It’s an easy home decor craft that you’re going to love doing.

In case you couldn’t tell, I enjoy makeovers (and love Mod Podge crafts even more)!

On one of my many trips to Goodwill, I found this great serving tray for $3.00. I can NEVER pass up a deal or chance for a makeover. At first glance, I knew that I wanted to decorate a tray to go with my nautical theme . . . a coastal inspired upcycle!

Serving tray from Goodwill

I am infatuated with Mod Podge right now and ANYTHING coastal (call it a sickness, haha). You should see my coastal themed living room . . . I. AM. OBSESSED with beach decor.

I have this pack of nautical themed scrapbook paper I got at Hobby Lobby and knew I would find the perfect design for the bottom of the tray. I went with a classic anchor.

You can never have too many anchors in the house right?! It’s a coastal theme staple. So with idea in hand, let’s start this painted tray makeover! Learn to decorate a tray below.

Decorate a Tray

For this Mod Podge project, you’ll need this stuff:


Getting Started

Since I already had the perfect nautical scrapbook paper. All I had to find was my paint. I chose an Old White chalk paint to give my tray that classic coastal look. This is going to be gorgeous!

Wooden tray, scrapbook paper, Mod Podge, ruler, rope, chalk paint, scissors, and foam brush

Step 1 – Paint Your Tray

Before decoupaging the bottom of your tray, you’ll need to add your paint. Add one or two coats. Let each coat dry 20 minutes.

Add a coat of chalk paint

Step 2 – Measure and Cut Scrapbook Paper

Now let’s prepare our paper! For a perfect fit, measure out the bottom of your serving tray. Then cut your scrapbook paper to fit.

Cut scrapbook paper to fit the tray

TIP: If you have large scrapbook paper with a seamless pattern, try trimming one of the edges to fill the area of your tray!

Step 3 – Mod Podge Paper to the Tray

For great adhesion, cover the bottom of your tray with a coat of Mod Podge. Now, place the shorter piece of scrapbook paper down first. Then, cover the paper with more Mod Podge. You can decorate a tray with one large piece as well (like wrapping paper).

TIP: If you use one large piece, like wrapping paper, you may want to use the “wet technique” I used here. It’s the way to decoupage without wrinkles.

Finally, place your large piece of scrapbook paper. Make sure to cover the entire top of the tray with one more coat of Mod Podge.

Add a layer of Mod Podge to the bottom of the tray

TIP: Be sure to smooth thoroughly when you apply the scrapbook paper. This will remove any air bubbles. A squeegee works great for this and presses the paper into the corners quite well.

Step 4 – Wrap Handles With Rope

Before I painted the serving tray, I took off the handles. I ended up painting two coats on those too! Once they were dry, I wrapped them with my decorative rope and hot glued into place.

Wrap handles with rope

If you decorate a tray, I highly recommend that you try this wrap. These rope wrapped handles turned out . . . Uh – may – zing!

Step 5 – Distress Your Tray

OMG, time to artificially age this project. With sandpaper 🙂 If you’ve had a rough day, relieve some stress and DISTRESS your tray (to your liking of course)!

Distressing white chalk paint with sandpaper

Step 6 – Finishing Touches

Alrighty! We are almost done. If you want to prevent scratching, you can add a coat of finishing wax to the paint (no need to go into the Mod Podge). I’m OK with a few accidentally scratches so I skipped the wax. With that said, we are done!

With our coastal inspired decoupage tray complete, let’s decorate.

How to Mod podge a wood tray

You can put pretty much anything you want on it. I love starfish and braided rope, so I went with that! But the choice is yours!

Mod Podge wooden tray with scrapbook paper and a nautical theme

I love how my attempt to decorate a tray turned out (and hope you did too)! Gotta’ give a big, “Thank you!” to Amy for letting me share! I really enjoyed myself 🙂

If you’d liked this craft idea, I’d love for you to check out these other great trays you can make at home:


Friday 19th of April 2024

Great project and super simple instructions, thank you! I just did a tray for my kids school and the paper I used was a vinyl paper, somewhat glossy, similar to a poster. I actually used gorilla spray glue to tack it to the bottom of the tray which worked great, but now I am thinking either Mod Podge on top OR Acrylic Sealer on top... or both? I want it to be able to handle a tea service, so not eating from it directly of course but one might drip or if crumbs fall off your plate and a kid grabs that crumb... I know the Mod Podge is not food safe but is non toxic, but not sure about the acrylic sealer...


Saturday 20th of April 2024

The acrylic sealer is not! Having said that, they're not toxic. It's not recommended as an eating surface but if someone eats a crumb it will be fine.

Jean Strickland

Saturday 21st of October 2023

Love your tray ideas. I live in a Senior Apt. Building & this gives me ideas for birthday & Christmas presents for friends here. Thanks for sharing!!


Sunday 22nd of October 2023

Yay! I'm glad you liked them!


Friday 20th of February 2015

Love this tray! Question: if I wanted to glue a wooden letter to the tray, how would I attach it on top of the mod podge? I have tried gorilla glue and it is not sticking!!


Monday 8th of August 2022

@Nanc;y, use E6000 you get at the dollar general hope this helps


Tuesday 10th of February 2015

This is too cute! What a great idea...think I need to make my own scrapbook paper serving tray soon! Oh the possibilities :)

Laura / Pet Scribbles

Monday 9th of February 2015

Love, love, love this tray! Great tutorial Courtney!