DIY Wood Tags Three Ways

Make easy diy wooden tags (or buy them!) and then choose one of three ways to use them - as chalkboards, number tags, or beverage tags. They are awesome catalog knockoffs at a fraction of the price! An Oregon Cottage

You might have realized by now that I’m always on the lookout for simple handmade gift ideas that I can recreate for a fraction of the cost. In fact, you can find a whole series on handmade gifts here. I think homemade gifts are fun to give (and get!) because there’s a little bit of you in the gift – not only money, but time and thought as well.

So when I saw these recent offerings at two of my favorite sites, Decor Steals (left) and Ballard Designs (right) I thought they’d make fun and super simple gifts! Besides these two ideas, I had one of my own (crazy, I know) that I’m sharing along with a tutorial on making your own wooden tags from scrap wood or inexpensive pine. After making the plain wood tags, all that’s left is choosing which of the three ways to finish them. Of course, you can also throw caution to the wind and try all three!

And do you think they will be anywhere near the price of $28.50 + $5 shipping for the distressed number tags on the left above? Or $15 + shipping for the beverage tags on the right? Um, not even close. In fact, I had scrap wood, black paint, garden twine, a sharpie and number stickers already, so it actually didn’t cost me anything.

OK, I guess I did have to buy the stuff at one point, didn’t I? My point is, this is a pretty inexpensive gift – a couple dollars and a nice wrapping job = a great gift. One I’d like to get – in fact, I’m even keeping some of mine!

Warning: this is a bit long, but I’ve put the tutorials in collage form so that you don’t have to scroll too far down. If you purchase already-made wooden tags, skip to the decorating tutorials.

How To Make Wood Tags:
  1. Make the tags using scrap wood or purchase lattice or lath pieces from a home store. They are about 1-1/2″ wide x 1/4′ thick.
  2. Use a miter saw (or miter box with a hand saw) to cut the wood into 3-4″ lengths (mine average 3-1/2″). Tip: have the blade running before touching the wood and then cut slowly.
  3. Using a shipping tag as a guide, trace the angles with a pencil.
  4. Set the miter saw at a 45 degree angle and cut off the corners at the marks.
  5. Drill a hole in the top using a large enough drill bit to put jute twine though later.
  6. Sand the edges using 150 to 220 grit sandpaper.

Now that you’ve got a nice stack of wood tags, it’s time to decide how to finish them.

Option 1: Distressed Wooden Hanging Numbers

I can see using these numbered tags so many places – keep reading to see just a few of the places I’m decorating with them!

How To Make Distressed Number Tags:
  1. Gather black spray paint, prepped wooden tags, and number stickers in the font of your choosing (There are a number of ways to do this, actually – you could use a stencil and paint white numbers or paint black numbers on the bare wood. I chose this because it seemed the quickest way to get the muted, worn look I was after).
  2. Attach stickers to tags.
  3. Lightly spray two to three coats of flat, black paint, being careful to get all the edges.
  4. Let dry and remove stickers.
  5. Sand the tags using 220 grit sandpaper.
  6. Spray both sides and all the edges with a clear, satin sealer, let dry and thread with jute twine.

Need some ideas about where to use these number tags?

  • On flower pots or vases. Line up 3 or 5 in a row with the same flower for a beautiful centerpiece or porch decor.
  • Hang on baskets.
  • Use to label clipboards.
  • Put them around mason jars used for storage.

Option 2: Beverage Tags

These are a catalog knockoff from Ballard’s and would make a wonderful hostess gift!

How To Make Beverage Tags:
  1. Transfer an ink-jet printed word onto the tags: type the words into a word-processing program in the font of your choice (I used Brush script, sized to 44 and 40 for the longer words); reverse or flip the image (I used Preview on my Mac to take a screen shot, flip and print with no constraints); place the printed word on tag, ink-side down, and lightly damped the paper with a cloth.
  2. Burnish the image with the end of a Sharpie pen, being careful not to tear the paper. Lift off. AND when that doesn’t work so well…{a-hem}
  3. Take the sharpie and trace over the outline. OR simply use the sharpie in the first place, writing in your own handwriting OR use this old-time method I used to transfer a monogram onto wood.
  4. Let them dry thoroughly and then coat the tags with Mod Podge (do not use the spray sealer – it will make the marker bleed). I’ve read that spraying the wood with hairspray before using the marker will also help with bleeding…but I didn’t do that, so I do have a bit of bleeding.

For these tags, thread them with longer pieces of jute twine – about 14″ doubled over – to leave long enough ends to be able to tie around pitchers.

Option 3: Chalkboard Tags


How to Make Chalkboard Tags:
  1. Spray paint the wood tags with regular black flat spray paint. That’s my diy chalkboard secret – it’s about half the cost of specialty chalkboard spray paint, works just the same, and you’re more likely to have some on your shelf  like me! Spray one side, let dry and then spray the other side, making sure to paint all the edges. Let dry thoroughly.
  2. Distress the tags, if desired, by rubbing sandpaper along the edges. Thread the holes with jute twine.
  3. Package the tags with chalk for a gift. Or use them yourself to label pantry items, craft items, or kid’s toys. With either regular flat paint or chalkboard paint, the chalk writes on these easily and wipes off with a soft cloth.

So, if you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume you want to make some version of these tags, so tell me – which will you make and how will you use them? Will they be a gift for someone? Or will you keep them yourself like me?

This is linked to Saturday Nite Special, Weekend Wrap-Up and Tutorials & Tips Link Party.


  1. Anonymous says

    Interesting post, have you tried balsa wood instead? Nice weight, great for the old look
    via ones skill. C.N.:)

  2. Tami says

    I love these! Will make the chalkboard ones for myself and gifts….and packed in a mason jar…awesome! Probably will make some to label my craft supplies too. Thanks Jami :-)

    Might be a fun thing for my nieces to make for Christmas gifts after hubby cuts them out. Your flax bags were a hit last year. I still need to make myself one!

  3. Cheryl says

    I love the idea. I was thinking of Christmas tags for gifts. We have a large family gathering and desperately need name tags on gifts! I was thinking of using red, green or white paint or whatever color matches the paper! Thanks for the idea…caught this post on pinterst!

  4. Lisa says

    If you made the tags out of cedar, skipped painting them all over, and presented them with one of those beautiful fabric covered hangers, it would be a really pretty gift for any number of occasions! the cedar keeps the moths away.

    • Jami says

      Nice idea! Though oddest thing I’ve discovered since moving to a house with a cedar-lined closet: I still find moths. Go figure. :)

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