I write a lot of notes. Always have. My mom still has a stash somewhere of a collection of the notes I wrote to her as a little girl, most of which say something along the lines of “I’m sorry, mommy. I’ll never do (fill in the blank) again. I love you.” Followed pretty immediately by another note apologizing for the very same thing. What can I say? I’m a stubborn minded woman, grown from a just-as-stubborn minded little girl. Nothing can be done at this point.
Now, I write notes to my husband. Usually these are love notes, but yes, often times he’ll too get a humble little note of apology. I like to leave them in his car, on the kitchen counter, in the fridge, anywhere I’m sure he’ll see it and smile.
But yes, I love to write notes. So, even though neither of my kids are quite to reading age yet, when I saw the idea on Pinterest of a mailbox outside a child’s door, I got very excited. A personalized, just-for-them, little place for love notes, candies, cards, and whatever else you can think of? I fell totally in love with the idea. The only problem? The one pictured in the article was ugly. Really ugly. A plastic, primary colored, horrible looking thing. So, I got to work immediately.
I browsed Amazon for a plain wooden mailbox and happened upon this gem. It was the perfect size for my kids’ doors, and completely customizable. I knew I wanted to personalize the boxes with Leston’s and Jovie’s names, so I also found these letters, which ended up not only working perfectly for this project, but for several others since then. I even used them to personalize Jovie’s bed with her initials.
I made these mailboxes back in February, when this blog was simply something I wistfully fantasized about doing one day. So, while I documented the finished products on Instagram, I didn’t take any “how to” photos in the process. Now that this blog is live, I thought this would be a wonderful project to start with. It’s one of the easiest projects I’ve tackled, and truly one of the most enjoyed things in our home. My children love checking their mailboxes for their small surprises, and Brandon and I get such joy in finding little tokens that will make them smile.
For the purpose of the tutorial, because my kids’ boxes were already made, I decided to make one for the son of a wonderful family friend. So, let’s get started!
Spray paint (two colors)
Wood glue, glue gun, or other strong adhesive. I used this one.
Old rag (that you feel okay about ruining)
Thank the mail person for your Amazon packages, and open them. This is what you’ll find inside:
Sort through your letters and find the ones you’ll need. Before you get to paining or gluing, check to be sure your letters will fit where you want to put them. Carsten’s name, at 7 letters, seems to be the limit. If you have a longer name, I would suggest using smaller letters.
Find a good place to paint, and get to it! For the letters in Carsten’s name (as well as with my kids’ boxes), I chose a metallic spray paint for the letters as it has a very cool, metallic finish when applied to wood.
Spray paint your mailbox, being sure to get full coverage, including inside the box and on the bottom. I like a satin finish, but you could use any finish you prefer.
Once your paint is dry, you can sand the edges slightly for a more antique-y feel. This step is totally optional, but I feel it adds a lot of charm and character to the finished product.
If you’ve chosen to sand and “roughen up” your mailbox a bit, it’s also very attractive to rub in a bit of wood stain where you’ve sanded. Keep in mind that a little bit of stain goes a long way. Dip your rag into a just a bit and wipe over where you want it. Working quickly, wipe a clean part of the cloth over where you’ve stained to wipe off excess. Subtlety is the key here.
Once your paint and stain are completely dry, you can glue your letters on. For this part of the project, I moved everything inside as it was a cold December day and I was freezing. But you are, of course, welcome to do this anywhere that suits your fancy.
Because of the slope on this particular mailbox, you’ll need to find a support for the flap while the glue on your letters dries. I found a boxed cake mix to be superb for this purpose!
*Side note: Staring at the cake box for a few hours while the glue dried caused some incontrollable cupcake baking later in the evening. I cannot be held accountable if this happens to you also.
This glue is amazing. It dries relatively quickly (but not so quickly that you can’t readjust a crooked letter for a minute or two), it holds extremely well, and dries crystal clear! No need to worry about a bit of glue smooshing out from under your letters. I promise it will disappear.
The glue will take 3-4 hours to dry. Be sure that the flap of the mailbox remains open (cake box, optional) so that your letters don’t slip down.
Once your mailbox is dry, it is ready to hang! I obviously chose to hang mine on the kids’ bedroom doors, but they would be great on a wall inside the room, as well. Or, even just sitting on a table or desk.