June 17, 2019  

Painted Tin Containers From The Thrift Store

Upcycle old Christmas cookie tins into modern painted tin containers! Check out this DIY desk accessory tutorial for a budget-friendly thrift store project.


Welcome to the summer edition of the Thrift Shop Challenge!

I team up with my blogging friends for this challenge every season and it’s always so fun to see the thrift store makeovers everyone dreams up.

My past Thrift Shop Challenge projects (like my painted wicker baskets and velvet lampshade) are some of my favorite DIYs and I’m excited to share my recent thrifty project with you today! I’ll link to all of my friends’ thrifty creations at the end of this post.

For our summer challenge, Chloe and I headed to Goodwill. She quickly spotted this trio of Christmas tins and insisted we take them home with us. They were labeled as 99¢ each but we scored big when the cashier gave them all to me for 99¢ total.


I know, I know, isn’t that Christmas rocking horse such a stylish design? (wink) It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the design is upside down on one of them!

Most thrift stores have an assortment of tin containers in a variety of sizes (lots of old holiday popcorn tins and cookie tins).

A quick coat of spray paint can easily transform those Christmas tins into modern containers that are perfect for organizing all types of things around the house.


This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy for details.


When it comes to thrift store makeovers, spray paint is my go-to. Almost anything can be transformed with a coat of paint!

Let me show you how I gave this trio of festive rocking horse tin canisters a fresh look with just a few coats of spray paint. This is an easy DIY project and I did the whole thing in two evenings after work! It’s really simple, mostly just waiting for paint to dry ;).

You can recreate this project using any color combination and any size of tin container you want! My only piece of advice is to use the lighter color as your base color.

Supply list

This project costed a total of $10 ($1 for the tin containers and $9 for two cans of spray paint). Obviously this is a small project so I have a lot of spray paint leftover. You probably have spray paint already which means this project could be done super cheaply!

Step 1: Clean your tin containers

Before painting the containers, make sure they are clean. Remove any stickers and sticker residue and wash them with warm soapy water. Allow to fully dry before you begin painting.

Step 2: Set up work area

Why your tin containers are drying, you can set up your work area. Always spray paint in a ventilated space. I started off in our backyard but had to move into the garage (with the garage door open) at the end due to rain.

If you have a large enough cardboard box to fit the tin containers, that works really well as a makeshift paint booth. I cut open the side of a large diaper box. Having a box with three sides will help contain the overspray that you get when spray painting. If your tin container is larger, you can also prop up sheets of cardboard or dropcloths to create a booth.


Step 3: PAINT 2-3 coats of base color

Set up your thrift store containers upside down inside your cardboard box. Lay the lids out in front of them.

When using spray paint, always shake the can really well first and spray the paint with light, even strokes back and forth across your project.

Begin by covering the full container in your base color (I used white). The spray paint I used is a paint and primer in one and is formulated to adhere to metal.

Spray all sides of your container with a light coat of paint, carefully rotating the container as you go so you can get coverage on all sides.

I waited 1-2 hours in between each coat of white paint, doing a total of 3 coats to fully cover up those cutesy Christmas rocking horses.

If you notice little bumps or dirt that got stuck on your wet paint, you can sand them very lightly right before applying the next coat.


Step 4: PAINT 1-2 coats of second color

Once the first color is dry, you can start in one your second color (I used a glossy navy). For this step, you have creative liberty and can’t really mess it up.

Place one container at a time inside your cardboard box and spray the bottom 2/3 of the container. Rotate your container to get all sides covered, trying to keep your paint fairly even all the way around.

The result is a really cool paint effect where the bottom of your container is fully covered and you get more of an ombre effect where the overspray is higher up. Doesn’t it look pretty?

Since I was painting a darker color over the white, I only needed one coat to get the look I was after.


Step 5: Apply lettering

Allow your final coat of paint to dry for several hours or overnight before applying your lettering. I used my Cricut Maker to create the lettering but you could also pick up a pack of stickers from the craft store.

If you are using your Cricut cutting machine, here is an in-depth tutorial with video on exactly how I cut out and apply DIY vinyl labels like this.


For these labels, I used the Cricut font called Scotch Roman Std Roman. After designing in Cricut Design Space, I cut the labels out on white Premium Vinyl. I weeded away the background so I was left with the words.


To transfer the letters onto your tin containers, stick a piece of transfer tape on top of your letters and rub it firmly.

Slowly lift the transfer tape and they letters should lift up with it. Then you can place your letters right onto the containers, rub them onto the container firmly, and slowly remove the transfer tape while leaving the letters intact.


And that, my friends, is how I created these pretty tin canisters using thrift store Christmas tins!

I’m using these as DIY pencil holders on my desk for now but I’m sure they’ll move around our house occasionally. They can be functional as small organizers or used as decorative accessories to style a shelf or bookcase.


Check out all of the other Thrift Shop Challenge posts via the links below! My friends are sharing so many creative (and thrifty) ideas.

Also, if you are working on any thrift store projects, use the hashtag #thriftshopchallenge on Instagram to share your projects! My friends and I would love to see what you’re working on!

Here are all of the other cool projects from this round of the Thrift Shop Challenge:

Looking for more thrifty projects? Take a look at my past Thrift Shop Challenge makeovers:

Have a great day!

You May Also Like...

About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

12 ways to automate your to-do list

(that won't cost a dime)

Discover practical, easy-to-implement ideas for automating some of the recurring tasks on your to-do list. Subscribe to have the free guide sent straight to your inbox.

Comments are closed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}