Easy Holiday Art Projects to Start Now: Mixed-Media Pasta Box Frames

The other day I was flattening an empty pasta box for the recycling bin when I thought, “Gee, that little oval window must be good for something.”

holiday art projects finished pasta box frame
Photo frame of cousins from Christmases past,
made from a pasta box.

So, instead of recycling the box I carefully cut off the front, reserving it for a project-to-be-named-later and saving the rest of the cardboard, too, because I figured it would come in handy.

Since I want to get a jump on my holiday art projects and make use of some favorite photos at the same time, I decided to use the pasta box windows to make hanging frames celebrating Christmases gone by. These frames are easy gifts to make for any occasion.

Hanging Pasta Window Frames


  • Pasta box of any size with a cellophane window
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Gesso
  • Acrylic paints
  • Sponge paintbrushes
  • Stamps, stencils
  • Glue (such as tacky glue or gel medium)
  • Hole punch
  • Trims, ribbons, yarn
  • Collage papers and other embellishments
  • Photo
  • Tape
  • Decorative backing paper
  • Letters or letting supplies


handmade arts sanded pasta box
handmade arts painted pasta box
Top: I cut out the pasta box front and lightly sanded it. Above: I applied gesso and green metallic acrylic paint. Then I stamped a pattern before adding embellishments.

1. Choose your pasta box. Carefully cut the front from the rest of the box. (You may leave the front panel the original size or cut it to be square or to change the orientation of the cellophane window.)

2. Lightly sand the card board surface to give it some tooth and help the paint adhere.

3. Apply a layer of gesso to the cardboard to cover writing and other designs. Be careful not to get gesso on the cellophane. If you do, just use a slightly damp piece of paper towel or tissue to wipe it off.

4. When the gesso is dry, apply acrylic paint in your color of choice. Let dry and apply more paint with stamps or stencils to create a design.

5. When the paint is dry, apply collage papers, words, or other embellishments. Apply trim around the edges, if desired.

6. Position your photo on the back of the cardboard so that the image shows through the cellophane. Tape it in place.

7. Cut the backing paper to size so that it covers the back of the card board. Apply glue or gel medium around the edges and press firmly to the back of the cardboard.

8. Punch two holes in the top of the cardboard and slide yarn, string, or trim through them, tying the ends together so you can hang the frame.

This is the perfect handmade arts and crafts project for all ages; you can make the frames as simple or as complex as you like. You might stitch around the edges, add glitter, cover the front with fabric–whatever you desire. I’m so pleased with how this first one came out, I’m going to make several more. Guess I’ll be eating a lot of pasta!

For more gift-making ideas and projects, make sure you have plenty of gift-oriented inspiration from our editors and artist-authors in the Cloth Paper Scissors Shop.

P.S. I think I’ll use the side panels of the boxes to make bookmarks. What about you? How would you upcycle a pasta box for easy handmade gifts? Leave your comment below.


3D Art and Assemblage, Blog, Easy Gifts to Make, Mixed-Media Techniques


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