Saturday, November 28

DIY Wood Transfer Chrismtas Photos

We spent last weekend putting up our Christmas decorations (I know... it was before Thanksgiving) and added a couple new decorations that proved to be instant favorites! These wood transfer Christmas photos will be so fun to pull out year after to year to see how much our boys have grown, and to remember how tiny they used to be.

For this project we merged a couple ideas that we've spotted in the past. It all started with an idea I saw a few years ago. A family printed a beautiful family Christmas photo on a large canvas and kept it with their decorations to hang up every Christmas. It was outside in the snow with a Christmas tree so it really felt like it fit at Christmas time. Now that we've got a little family of our own I've thought about doing this for a while... but always got hung up at the price of a canvas print. Yikes.

Enter the hero of the story... pinterest! You've probably seen by now that wood transfer photos are very popular. I've had them showing up in my feed for months. But it wasn't until a couple weeks ago that I finally put two and two together and realized I could do wood transfer Christmas photos for a fraction of the cost!

We're so happy with how they turned out! And I'm so excited to be able to look back at their sweet tiny faces year after year. Although... we do have three boys now so we'll probably make another set again next year! Want to make your own? It's easy!

What you need:
  • photo printed with a laser jet printer
  • Mod Podge or Mod Podge photo transfer medium (If you use regular Mod Podge, any part of the picture that printed white will be transparent when you transfer the phot and show the wood color and grain. If you want the white parts to actually be white when you transfer the photo, you need to use the photo transfer medium instead. That's what we used because we wanted the snowflakes to be white.)
  • wood
  • paint brush
Since we wanted pictures that were specifically for Christmas time, our first step was to take some cute, Christmassy Photos. We spent the afternoon at a park with a few Christmas themed props and came away with a few really cute shots! We used our little car and tractor and decked them out with a Christmas tree (actually the top section of our tree!) and a few wrapped presents. We put the boys in plaid shirts and matching ear-flap hats (I made them using this free pattern). 

But it still didn't feel quite like Christmas... so I photoshopped in a little snow. 

That's better.

Print the photos with a laser printer (NOT INKJET) and cut our wood to size. Most office supply stores can print them for you for a low cost if you don't have a laser jet printer, and can print larger sizes than a home printer. If your photos are directional (like if they have words on them) you need to have them printed as a mirror image so they'll turn out the right way when you transfer them. We had one photo printed on 8.5x11" paper and the other on 11x17" paper, so we could use a 1x12 for both photos. Since a 1x12 is actually 11.25" wide (leaving 1/4" of extra beyond the 11" paper) I added 1/4" when I cut each board (so I cut them 8.75" long and 17.25" long).

Now it's time for the real work to begin. I laid out some wax paper to protect the countertop while I worked, then I squirted some of my photo transfer medium all across the photo.

Use a paintbrush to spread it all around. It was really thick and goopy so it was a little work to get it spread without moving the paper.

 Cover the page all the way to the edges. You'll probably be rewarded with some fairly sticky fingers. Huzzah!

Apply the photo face-down centered on the board. Push out any air bubbles using a credit card (or your hands if you're tired and good enough is good enough). Now you need to let the board dry a full 24 hours before moving on.

Once it has dried a full 24 hours you can start to remover the paper. Start by laying a wet towel over the page for a few minutes until the paper is saturated.

Use a rag or washcloth to start scrubbing off the wet paper.

Ooo, looking good so far!

Once you remove the paper, let it dry again. As it dries you'll start to see any little fuzzy bits that didn't get picked up the first time around. Use your wet rag to go over all those fuzzy spots again. Let it dry again and check if you missed any more spots. We got them all after the third try.

Once it's dried and you're satisfied that all the white has been removed, you can seal the picture with a spray sealer to help protect it. You could also use sandpaper to give your photo a more distressed look, and stain or paint the edges of the board for a different look. There are so many options! Once you're happy with your board you can get it ready to hang.

We just used some picture hanging wire left over from another project and stapled it to the back of the boards.

Now you just have to decide where to hang those beautiful photos! We used a small nail to hang one of ours right on top of our reclaimed window stocking holder (make your own here).

We added some new stockings and it started feeling like Christmas around here!

And yes, they are new stockings... even though I made us flannel stockings last year (tutorial here). My pregnant self was nesting a few weeks ago and panicked that we didn't have a stocking for the new baby. And I decided I was too tired to make one but I needed them all to match. So Husband took his hot mess (that's me) to Hobby Lobby to pick out a whole new set of stockings. They were 40% off so it was only $6 per stocking. Not too bad. And I actually like the style better than the ones I made, and I like that they are bigger so I can fit more presents. 15 Points for Ravenclaw (because that's totally Husband's house).

The final cost for us was really cheap. We were able to print our photos for free, plus we had enough scrap 1x12 in the garage for both photos. All we had to buy for this project was the Mod Podege Photo Transfer Medium. It was about $10 for the big bottle at Michael's but I was able to use a coupon and bring it down to just $6, and I have plenty left over if we want to do more pictures.

The hardest part of the project was getting a good Christmas photo. We ended up with tons of funny photos, but just a few where you could see both their faces and everyone looked happy.

The found a lady bug. It's a big deal.
 Baby #3 the day before he was due.

I'm hoping to do something similar again next year with all three of the boys. Anyone have anymore cute Christmassy photo pose ideas?

Have you tried any wood transfer photos yet? Do you have any photos in your Christmas decorating stash?


  1. I love this! Thanks for the great tutorial.

    1. Thanks and you're welcome! Have fun if you give it a try! :)