Pinspiration to Reality: White Elephant Monogrammed Burlap Sign

For Christmas, my sisters and I and our husbands usually do a Secret Santa gift exchange. However, it seems for the last three years we all have gotten the same person, so we decided to switch it up this year and do a White Elephant gift swap. If you are not familiar with White Elephant here is a quick recap and I guarantee once you read it you will say "Oh yeah, I know what that is but I never knew it was called White Elephant!" 

White Elephant gift swap works something like this. All parties agree on a set price, buy and wrap a gender neutral gift and leave it unmarked. Names are called from a hat. The first name called gets to select a gift from the pile and open it. The second person gets to either "steal" that gift or pick a new one from the pile.  If the second person steals the firsts gift, the first gets to select another wrapped gift and open it. The next name called can "steal" either the first persons or the second persons gift, and it goes on like that. There are more complicated rules but you get the idea.

So for the White Elephant this year we decided that we had to MAKE something with the materials costing under $15. Yes, I used the four letter word M-A-K-E! Sounds easy enough right? I scoured Pinterest for an inspiration on a DIY gift that would work for guy or girl and this is what I came up with.

Here is the original Pinterest Pin:

Pinterest Source
Here is my completed project. Since we were playing with two couples, I cheated and did a "D" on one side and a "G" on the other, since those are the last names of my sisters and their husbands. Whoever wins it can hang it to display their letter and hide the other, nice trick huh? 

If you are interested in creating one for yourself or as a Birthday or House Warming gift, here is a 10 Step How-To guide on how I created this burlap monogrammed sign:

Step 1: Have your dad cut a square from plywood like mine did. Is your Dad not handy? No problem, just find a really nice lumber yard like Rittenhouse Lumber (across the street from our shop) most times they will cut your wood to size if you buy from them.

Step 2: Gather all of your supplies, which includes the hardest part - picking your color pallet. I have been loving the look of Olive Chalk Paint® under Provence Chalk Paint® and decided to go with those. I also used Graphite for the lettering. Here is my supply list; paint brushes, a hammer, furniture upholstery tacks, my wooden board, ribbon for hanging, and scrap burlap from the project I did on recovering old chairs.

Step 3: Cut your burlap to size, you want it to be about an inch and a half or so from the edge of the wood all over. It does not have to be perfectly straight if you are going for a shabby look. Next, pull a couple loose pieces of burlap from the ends to give it a tattered, worn feel.

Step 4: Paint a thin coat of your first color, in my case it was Olive.

Step 5: Find something to do while you are allowing that to dry :) Or if you are impatient like me, let it sit for 20 minutes and use a hair dryer to finish the job. It is going to be mostly covered by burlap anyway so perfection is not the key here.

Step 6: Dry brush on your second color. This is Provence. I painted both sides of the board since I was going to be finishing it as a two sided piece.

 Step 7: Pull the burlap tight to each corner and hammer in the furniture tacks to secure it in place. You can trim it as needed with a scissors or box cutter.

Step 8: Sketch on the outline of your letter. I used liquid chalk which is great because if you don't like your line it comes right off with water. You can also use a seamstress marker which disappears after time too. 

 Step 9: Fill in your letter outline. I used Graphite Chalk Paint® for this.

Step 10: Cut a piece of burlap for your hanger.  I used burlap ribbon from

 And that is it... Here is my two sided White Elephant gift. Here's hoping it is not the least coveted gift there :)
I also made one for the Coffee Station at the new Phantastic Phinds Workshop

Good luck with your project! We would love to hear from you on what you made this holiday season for your friends and loved ones, please feel free to post in the Comments section below! 

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