True fact: fancy picnic crates make picnic food taste better. They also prevent sunburn and make your hair shiny.

Okay, no. So picnic crates are just boxes, made of wood—no special powers involved.

But a fun crate might make a Fourth of July picnic more festive! Here are two ways you could decorate crates for summer picnicking.

I believe this is the first rule of crafting: There’s no such thing as perfect; all that matters is that you like what you made. Use these suggestions to inspire you to do what’ll make you happy.

If you like the idea of a picnic crate but have zero minutes for crafting, just pick up a crate at the craft store, stick a flag in with your food, and call it a day.

If you have five minutes, line the bottom of the crate with a red-white-and-blue tablecloth before packing your food. Good to go.

If you have a little more time on your hands and want to do a little DIY: I’ve got you covered.

First: Painted stripes

Painted Picnic Crate

Blue and white stripes give a plain crate a nautical feel that works for both the Fourth of July or any time.

You’ll need:

  • A crate
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • A foam roller and/or paint brush

Paint the outside of the crate white using a foam roller.

When the white paint is dry, use painter’s tape to mark your stripes. I went for irregular blue stripes on the crate’s slats.

Paint the exposed areas, then peel the tape up while the paint is still damp.


You can always touch up your stripes when the paint dries, but don’t worry too much about imperfections here—they add character.

Second: An image transfer


Transferring a printed image onto wood lends a vintage look to a new crate. Here’s how to do it.

You’ll need:

  • A crate
  • An image, printed in reverse
  • Tape
  • CitraSolv (a citrus-based solvent)
  • A cotton ball or a bunched-up paper towel
  • A Popsicle stick or other flat-edged tool

Create an image to transfer onto your crate—it doesn’t have to be fancy. Mine is just clip art, surrounded by text.

Using graphic software, or even word processing software, flip your image so that it appears backwards, as in a mirror.

Print your reversed image, preferably with a laser printer. If that’s not an option, take your printout and make a photocopy. (The toner from a copy machine or laser printer will transfer better than an inkjet printout.)

Sand the chosen spot on your crate with fine-grit sandpaper. The smoother your surface, the more easily your image will transfer.

Tape the image in place, toner side directly on the wood.

Using a paper towel or cotton ball, dab CitraSolv all over the printer paper. Just a little should do it!


Rub over the paper with the flat edge of a Popsicle stick to help details transfer more thoroughly.


Peel off the tape and lift the paper carefully to avoid smudging.


Imperfection is part of the charm here — we’re going for a handmade, vintage-y look.

You can seal your crate with mod podge or wood sealant if you like.

Picnic crates, ready for celebrating!


Grab a couple of flags and tuck them in the corners for good measure.

Now we’re ready for the Fourth of July.