It's a homemade gift that keeps on giving.   

By Corey Williams
November 12, 2019
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Annie Campbell

There’s something so magical and beautifully sincere about an old-fashioned wooden recipe box. The back-to-basics kitchen staple is a novelty in our digital world of blogs, Pinterest, and recipe sites (hi!). 

Some people might even say it’s unnecessary. 

But I am not one of those people. I love how quaint and homespun a recipe box looks sitting on a counter, and I love the sentimental value of tried-and-true handwritten recipes even more. 

I’m not the only one: Like vinyl records and bellbottoms, recipe boxes have experienced something of a cultural resurgence in the last few years. 

So, if you’re looking for a way to show a loved one you care, I can think of no better gift for a home cook with a fondness for rustic treasures than a DIY recipe box. 

This homemade gift is about as sweet and personal as it gets. The best part? The whole thing comes together for less than $20. 

If you want to make this DIY present even more special, take advantage of our free and easy-to-use printable recipe cards. 

Here’s what you’ll need: 

Annie Campbell

For the box: 

  1. Unfinished Recipe Box (3x5), buy a single box here: Michael’s, $6.49 or a dozen boxes here: Oriental Trading, $22.99
  2. Wood Stain, buy it here: Hobby Lobby, $2.99 or Amazon, $5.88
  3. Acrylic Paint, buy it here: Amazon, $1.15
  4. Foam Brush
  5. Paint Brushes
  6. Stencil, buy it here: Hobby Lobby, $4.99
  7. Label Holder, buy it here: Hobby Lobby, $1.99 (3-pack) or Amazon, $12.99 (30-pack)
  8. Pen

For the recipe cards:

  1. Cardstock Paper
  2. Printer
  3. Scissors
  4. Pen

Step 1: Stain the box.

Annie Campbell

I used a foam brush to apply the stain, but you can use a regular ol’ bristled brush if you don’t have one laying around. I also used a smaller brush to get the stain into the hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. 

The stain I used (Americana Gel Stain in Maple) dried super quickly, but others may take longer—make sure your box is completely dry before moving on to the next step. 

Step 2: Attach the label holder and label to the front of the box. 

Annie Campbell

The cheap and wonderfully vintage-looking looking label holder I bought came with two tiny screws for easy attachment. However, I was ill-prepared and found myself without a tool set (or any carpentry skills to speak of). Instead, I used super glue to fasten the metal to the wood. 

You can attach it any way you want—just make sure it’s secure. 

Once the glue is dried (if you used glue at all), you can insert an appropriately sized label. I chose to label my box “MyRecipes” for obvious reasons, but what you choose is up to you.  

Step 3: Use the stencil and acrylic paint to add designs to the box. Get creative!

Annie Campbell

Here’s where things get fun: Once you’re really, really sure that the stain and the glue has completely dried, it’s time to break out the stencil. 

If you’re artistically inclined or have a gentle touch, you can totally paint freehand or use a plastic stencil with no adhesive backing. 

Since I possess neither of those qualities, I went with one that sticks securely to surfaces. I didn’t want to worry about the stencil sliding around and ruining my delicate design. 

Annie Campbell

Step 4: Print and cut out recipe cards. (Optional) 

Annie Campbell

Writing on index cards is a lovely, rustic, and beautifully old-fashioned way to remember your favorite recipes. 

However, if you want to go the extra mile, you can use our adorable (and totally free!) printable recipe cards. 

Our 3x5 design allows you to easily log your recipe’s cook time, ingredients, and directions. Don’t have enough room to write the whole thing? That’s what the back is for!

Corey Williams

Once you’ve downloaded the free recipe card printable (find the 8.5x11 PNG above), all you have to do is print the image on cardstock paper (you can use printer paper, but the sturdier cardstock will hold up better in the long run) and cut along the dotted lines. 

Annie Campbell

Read next: How to Make a DIY Advent Calendar

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