DIY: Quick & easy decorative table tray

This year we did something different for Christmas. We stuck to a reasonable budget (and managed to stay under it!) and a few of the gifts were even homemade. I had a lot of fun making them. Here’s one more.

Note: Ours was sturdy enough that it could actually be used as a serving tray. Be sure to carefully test yours beforehand if this is what you plan to do with it, as not all frames are created equal.


DIY decorative serving tray



  • A deep-set frame around 11″x14″ or larger with glass
  • Scrap of fabric (mine was 18″x42″ but ended up being trimmed down) — patterns are great for this project!
  • Iron
  • Stapler
  • Power drill
  • Thick rope/decorative metal handles

Optional Materials:

  • Second set of hands / paper clamps to hold material in place during stapling
  • 1 extra piece of cardboard backing from same sized frame


How to make a decorative table tray:

I found these frames at a Value Village. In this case, the one deep set frame we found came without glass, so we picked out another plain frame — same width and height — to provide the glass.

frames from Value Village & scrap of material

Take the photos (or in this case needlepoint & faded marriage advice) out of the frame(s). Discard, saving cardboard frame backing.

line up fabric to back of cardboard and staple on

Iron your material (it will look 100x better in the end, so don’t skip this step!) Then, line up your pattern’s edge so that it appears straight with your frame’s cardboard.

stapled on!

Once lined up (this may be a two-person job, or you can use little paper clamps to hold), staple material close to the edge of cardboard. Be sure to smooth the material down as you go to prevent wrinkles. Here’s an idea of how yours should look once material is stapled on and excess trimmed off.

back view of stapling

Back view of stapled material onto cardboard.

finished decorative serving tray

Measure same distance from each end of the frame’s short sides and drill holes to tie in your rope or attach handles, leaving a hand’s width between each set of holes. Make sure not to drill the holes too big. Clean both sides of glass, insert it into frame. Put in the cardboard/material piece, and attach one more cardboard piece behind that to leave a cleaner finish if desired. (Advantage of using two frames: Extra pre-cut piece of cardboard.) Fasten back of frame in place.

how cute! DIY serving tray complete!

Homemade serving tray in the house! Put it on your table and load it up with trinkets or doo-dads (or both, depending on your preference).


That’s it! This project looks like it has more steps than it actually does. The total time elapsed (besides going out to purchase frames and charging the drill) was about 25 minutes. Makes for pretty decor for you or a thoughtful gift for someone else.

Hope this instructional helped!

So, what do you think?

About Nikki

I've been writing since I was in kindergarten where I Crayola-markered an epic tale of a tiger and a balloon on a stack of lined papers folded into a booklet and stapled along the edge (carefully, and by my teacher). I love DIY, sewing, folksy music, animals and getting out to look at and listen to nature.
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