My hearth room is the perfect place for a Christmas tree shipping crate stand. It looks very rustic and so, a rustic shipping crate has been on my list of to-do projects for a while. This year turned out to be the year!
I wanted to add a second tree in my hearth room, right next to the fireplace. So, I headed out to do some shopping. Being that I haven’t purchased a new Christmas tree in almost 10 years, can you say sticker shock?!?
Wow! A 9 foot, decent-looking, Christmas tree can run between several hundred to several thousand. Not happy, folks. Not. Happy.
So, what is a girl to do? Well, last year I flocked my old 9’ Vienna pine. A few years before that, I stripped off all the old, burnt out, “pre-lit” bulbs and replaced them with longer-lasting LED lights.
I figured that I have already tackled and accomplished the two biggest items on my designer Christmas tree wish-list. I may as well just see what I can do to improve a cheap(ish) Christmas tree.
I eventually found this tree at my local Target. It was several feet shorter than what I wanted, and I knew that my 12-foot ceilings would take all the pizazz out of anything that I could put together on it.
But, then I thought, “why not make a Christmas tree shipping crate that hides and holds the tree stand”? After all, the tree fit all of my other requirements, and I knew I could make a Christmas tree shipping crate stand that doubles as a riser. So, the height issue could easily be handled.
(This post may contain affiliate links (*). That means that I make a small commission from sales that result through these links, at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.)
Things to Look for When Christmas Tree Shopping:
Before I get into the instructions, you may be interested in knowing what I look for in a cheap(ish) tree to determine if it can be turned into a designer(ish) show-piece.
FYI – I have techniques to overcome all of these problems, but I generally try to find trees that check off as many as possible. This is how this tree scored.
- Does it look relatively full or will require minimal cost to plump it up? Check!
- Does it have plush needles? Check!
- Does it offer a mix of different needles? Check! (This one has 3 different varieties, but this is not always necessary)
- Does it offer a decent percentage of interior needles? Check! (Interior needles help prevent holes and also help camouflage lighting wires.
- Is it Pre-Lit? Nope! Not this one.
- Does it meet the minimum height requirements? i.e. no more than 2-3 feet below ceiling height. Not even close.
- How real do the needles appear? It is often hard to find inexpensive Christmas trees that do not look like cheap plastic. This can be helped some with decorations, but it is always better to start with attractive needles.
The pre-lit issue is of no concern to me because most trees still come with a cheap variety of incandescent bulbs. Bulbs that never fail to burn out either mid-season or sometime during their resting period in my attic.
I could tell you how frustrating it is to spend a ton of money on a pre-lit tree only to have the bulbs die an early death. But, I won’t. You have probably already experienced this for yourself.
The good news is that I have solved that problem by doing my own pre-lit tree lights. I did it with my Vienna pine 3 years ago using LED bulbs.
This will make the 4th year of use and not one bulb has burned out. Naturally, I plan to do my own lights again with this tree. You can see the video of how I add the lights over on my Youtube channel. (video coming soon!)
But, moving on to the Christmas tree shipping crate stand. I decided to add shipping crate stamps to this one. I wanted something different than a standard planter box and a rustic, Christmas, shipping crate sounded like just the thing.
1×3 pine boards
pocket hole jig*
1” pocket hole screws
brad nailer or pin nailer (Optional)
Polycrylic waterbased sealant*
Printable crate stamps (the stamps used in this post are available to all of my newsletter subscribers)
Avery peel-and-stick label paper*
For your conenience, instructions are available above in video form. You may also continue on with the text version below. I recommend doing both just in case one happens to have a detail that was missed in the other.
4 plywood side sections @ 16” high x 21 1/2 wide”
2 plywood top/bottom sections @ 21 1/2″ x 21 1/2″
1 plywood riser section @ 20″ x 20″ (reduce by 1/8″ increments if fit is too tight)
4 plywood cleat strips @ approximately 16″
8 pine board vertical trim sections @ 17 1/2″
8 pine board trim sections measured and cut to fit for top/bottom trim (see video)
*crate fits up to a 26″ wide tree stand
Building the Christmas Tree Shipping Crate Stand:
Layout the four sections of plywood that will serve as the sides of the crate. Determine which side will serve as the exterior. Try to place defects on the interior.
Layout side sections with the interior side face up. Place marks on the interior side along the left side and at the bottom edge of each piece. This will be the edges that will receive the pocket holes.
Drill pocket holes along the sides marked in the above step. Space holes evenly at approximately 4” apart.
Determine how high you want to raise your tree. (Note – the bottom branches need to clear the top edge of the crate). Transfer the height requirements to the interior of the side sections.
Then, attach the cleats along the marks using wood screws. Side panels should look like the image at this point.
Attach the crate sides to each other by staggering each edge. The side with the pocket holes will always be placed on top of the side without pocket holes.
To make the process easier, attach the first section’s pocket hole side to the second section’s blank side. Then, rotate the crate and repeat. Keep rotating and repeating until the loop is complete.
When the crate sides are completely assembled, each side should have one exposed raw edge and one hidden raw edge. (See image above)
Next, attach the bottom section to the crate. Test the fit of the riser and make adjustments as needed.
Next is the trim. Start by adding the vertical trim pieces to the whichever sides you wish to be the right and left face of the crate. These pieces should be flush with the sides edges but should protrude 3/4″ above the top edge of the crate.
Then, add the vertical trim pieces to the front and back faces of the shipping crate. These should overlap and cover the exposed edges of the trim from the previous step.
After the vertical pieces are in place, measure and cut the sections for the horizontal trim. Again, the top horizontal trim will protrude 3/4″ above the top edge of the box.
Test the fit of the lid and make adjustments as needed. Optional: add a pull to the lid to make it easy to remove. You can also add hardware to latch the lid in place if desired. I chose to do a simple drop-in lid.
Apply a light-toned stain to the crate if desired. Allow to dry completely before adding stamps or sealant.
About My Stamps:
Christmas stamps can be easily made using several different apps. Without a doubt, you have an app on your computer that will allow you to make your very own designs.
However, if you want to use my designs, I invite you to sign-up for the Queen Bee of Honey Dos’newsletter. I have created a large gallery of printables just for members. Sort of an appreciation thing.
But, anyone can join and all are welcome. You can see more about that on the sign-up page by clicking the button below. But first, keep reading to see how I transferred the stamps!
Laser Printing the Stamps
- Remove the labels and the label borders from the Avery paper. We will be using the backing, so take care when removing the sticky labels.
- Place paper backing in a laser printer so that the print will be on the smooth shiny side.
- Set printer to print a reversed or flipped version of the stamps. For red stamps, proceed to printing in color.
- To get a black version, make sure to check the grayscale box on your printer settings.
Transfering the Stamps to the Crate:
- Apply a thin layer of Polycrylic to the surface of the shipping crate.
- Immediately place printed stamps face down into the Polycrylic.
- Use a credit card or any smooth-edged device to smooth out any bubbles in the paper. This needs to be done right away before the ink has a chance to begin transferring. Keep an eye on the paper for the first few minutes to notice any bubbles or creases that may appear once the paper begins to absorb the Polycrylic. Smooth as needed.
- Allow to dry for several hours. Then, carefully peel away the paper.
- A second coat of sealant can be applied to the entire surface to seal everything in and to protect the crate.
I have to be honest with you, I have tried several techniques for transferring inkjet to wood. I find the laser prints to be easier and more reliable.
However, I know you may not have access to a laser printer. In which case, I want to share a few options that you may want to try.
The first is to print on wax paper and then rub the image onto the wood. If you can get your printer to actually feed the wax paper through, this works quite well.
The problem comes when your printer can’t or won’t accept the thin waxy paper. It can be frustrating. My printer will not cooperate for me, but I have heard that the cheaper inkjets are more likely to perform well.
Another technique is to use Mod Podge for the transfer. This also works well, but I don’t think it looks as authentic as the laser on the shipping crates. But, that’s just my opinion.
If an inkjet printer is all you have, give it a try and see how it looks. I would caution though, practice on a scrap piece before actually using any of these techniques on the crate.
Placing Christmas tree in shipping crate stand:
Drop the riser down into the crate and test it for level. Make sure it is fully supported by the cleats.
Place the crate in the location where you want the tree to stand. Then, place the tree stand on top of the riser. If you wish to add something to cover the tree stand, do it now. You can use fabric, faux moss, pinecones, or ornaments.
Next, begin to assemble your tree as normal.
A bonus to building this Christmas tree crate stand is that it doubles as storage. To use it for storage at the end of the season, pack ornaments in the crate. Then drop in the lid/top.
In addition, the riser platform can serve as a divider for you to separate delicate or special decorations. This is great when you want to pack multiple types of decor together. Happy Holidays!