There’s always something incredibly special about taking the time to make a birthday gift and then watching the reaction of the receiver when they see what you’ve created. Priceless. It just feels so good to know that your hard work is appreciated.

Now that I am a mom I have been giddy about being able to make lots of handmade gifts and themed knick knacks that include my little boy some way or another. These are extra special for the grandma’s in the family! They, of course, are my main target when creating these gifts. 

So as my husband’s Nana’s birthday approached this past April we couldn’t really think of what to get her. Just like all other grandma’s I know, she has everything she could possible need. We brainstormed a couple of ideas but finally I suggested making her a gift and the idea stuck! With a little research on Pinterest I found the perfect gift: A D. I. Y. wooden plaque photo display.

Come check out the inspiration for this DIY HERE

I used the same approach in creating it but changed the theme of the plaque to match the theme our Nana has in her home. She has a beautiful beachy theme with Browns and Teals throughout and so I went ahead and created something that would fit right in! 

So lets begin…

I payed a visit to Michaels and was lucky enough to go right when they were having their biggest sale of the year and took advantage of their 50% Off coupon! In total this whole project cost no more than $25 dollars. What a steal!





  1. Wooden Plaque
  2. Paint in three colors: tan, white, black
  3. Mini clothespins: 10 count
  4. Twine
  5. Rope
  6. Arrangement of seashells
  7. Poster board paper


  1. Glue gun
  2. Computer and printer
  3. X-Acto Knife
  4. Nails: 6 count
  5. Hook Screws: 2 count
  6. Paint brush
  7. Pencil
  8. Hammer
  9. Your favorite photos

    Got your supplies? Great! Let’s begin :

    STEP 1

    Grab your wooden plaque and paint it your choice of color. I used a beautiful sandy tan color. I made sure to keep my strokes going in the same direction and also got all the cracks and crevices all around the corners. Add two coats for a better coverage of the wood grain. 

    STEP 2

    Now that you have painted the plaque front and back we are going to recreate those wood grain marks we just painted. For this you must identify them first. Try and see where you can find them and which way the waves are moving. By doing this you will get a more realistic ‘wood’ feel when you paint the grains yourself. 


    DIY BEACHY PHOTO PLAQUE|| How to create wood grain
    To make these look natural I used the wood stick of the sponge brush that I was using. I dipped it a little at a time in white paint and began to follow the grain marks on the plaque. In the end it should look something like this: 


    STEP 3

      ||Before I begin these next few steps I just want to say that I did this the long and difficult way. For the lettering you are more than welcome to use your Cricut or Silhouette. I highly recommend it! I just didn’t have mine on hand at the time so I went about the lettering the tedious way. 

    It didn’t come out perfect but that is perfectly okay! However, if you wish to make your life easier you can create the same effect with vinyl lettering with your cutting machine. Easy!||

    You will need to go on your computer and print the quote in the desired size and font for your plaque. I simply made sure my “GRANDKIDS” letters were large and bold and the “Make Life Grand” was dainty and flowy to contrast against the large lettering. 

    Check the sizing against the plaque and print your quote:

    Grandkids Make Life Grand

    STEP 4 & 5

    To transfer your letters onto the plaque you will need to create a stencil. Here’s how:

    DIY BEACHY PHOTO PLAQUE|| How to create poster paper stencil
    1. Turn your printed paper aroDIY BEACHY PHOTO PLAQUEund to the back and color with pencil the whole entirety of the letters. 
    2. Turn your paper over and trace over the letters onto poster board paper. 
    3. You should be left with a faint outline of the words on the poster board.

    Finally, with an X-acto knife cut the letters out over a self healing board or a safe surface you won’t ruin, please!

    STEP 6

    Now that you have your quote stenciled place the ‘GRANDKIDS’ stencil against the plaque and carefully paint over with the black paint. Let that dry. 

    Once dry, place the rest of the quote ‘Make Life Grand’ in front and a little lower on the plaque and paint that with white paint. Let dry. 

      ||I would recommend that you use a semi permanent spray adhesive (I did not!) to hold the paper stencil in place and so that your paper doesn’t lift while you paint.||

    The results are beautiful:


    DIY BEACHY PHOTO PLAQUE|| Paint quote: “Grandkids Make Life Grand”

    STEP 7

    Now we will add two mini hook screws to each bottom corner of the plaque. I simply eyeballed the distance between each. 


    DIY BEACHY PHOTO PLAQUE || Two Hook Screws and 6 Small Nails

    Once the screws are in you my tie the twine. Make sure it is taught and tied securely so that it may hold the weight of the clothespins and photos. I added a bit of hot glue to each end of the twine and hook to secure it in place. Don’t forget to add your clothespins!

    STEP 8


    Take your beautiful arrangement of seashells and starfish and begin adhering with a glue gun on each end of the wooden plaque making sure not to cover the letters. 


    Start by adhering the larger shells first and work your way to the smaller ones. I spy baby toes! I made sure to cover the hook screws with the shells. This will give it a little extra hold. 

    STEP 9

    Finally, nail the rope to the back of the plaque.  I used three nails just to make sure it was on their securely. 

    Here are the end results:


    Shout out to my hubby who very wonderfully posed this as we were heading to his Nana’s to gift it to her!

    I think the end result was beautiful. There’s so much potential to this project. You can make this and remake this so many different ways. Different themes, and colors, and quotes, even names! I’m so excited I know I’ll make another one in the future. And the best part is that you don’t even have to wrap it if you’ll gift it. Just pop a bow on one side and boom you’re done!

    My husband’s Nana loved her birthday gift this year. And I had a blast making it. Now it’s your turn! Tell me how you like mine and how you think you can make it your own? Will you change it up a bit by using a different theme? Do you love it? Leave a comment and let me know!!

    Thanks for visiting! 


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