DIY Cowboy Photo Booth from a Wardrobe Box

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While everyone in blog world was talking about pumpkins and Halloween costumes, I was busy planning and decorating a Hoedown Party for my daughter’s preschool class.  In a nutshell, I transformed a large box into a photo booth that mimicked an old Western Wanted Poster.

DIY Cowboy Photo Booth from a Wardrobe BoxIt started with an old wardrobe box we had leftover from our move.  I suppose any giant box would work just as well (think refrigerator box or other major appliance box).

Empty wardrobe box turned into a cowboy photo booth!

Because this was a used wardrobe box and had traveled many miles, I found the bottom to be more sturdy than the top.  Given the fact that this box was about to be used by over a dozen little preschoolers, I flipped it upside down so the top framework would be as stable as possible.

flip a wardrobe box upside down to create a cowboy photo boothI decided which side would be the front and then cut out a decent sized square window.  For the door, I cut down the seam on one side.  I also cut off the top and bottom of the door to make it like a swinging saloon door.  In hindsight, a double swinging door is more authentic.  If I were to do it again, I would leave both sides of the door attached to the box and cut down the middle to make a double swinging saloon door.

how to cut a wardrobe box to make a photo boothThen I got to work creating the wooden look.  This is reeaaalllllyyyy easy.  Take a permanent marker, like a Sharpie, and draw vertical stripes about 4″ apart over the four outside walls.  Then add random horizontal lines to create planks.  Just draw by free-hand.  No need to use a ruler or be precise.  In fact, uneven/wavy lines look more realistic.

draw vertical lines about 4" apart

Next add wood veins by drawing scattered short vertical lines all over the planks.  You can also throw in a few knots by coloring misshaped circles sporadically.

draw wood "veins" and "knots" in random places

For this project, I used things I had around the house.  After all, the box was free and the party was short.  I wasn’t about to invest big bucks.

I used brown crayola washable paint and a foam brush (both things I had leftover from other projects) to soften the harsh black marker lines.  My 5-year-old helped me slather the brown paint over every Sharpie line and circle to create a wood grain appeal.  In the picture below, it looks harsh and noticeable.  However, after the paint dried, it took on a softer and more subtle appearance.  Keep reading and you’ll see how the brown paint blends in once dry.

soften the marker lines with a little brown paintAfter the paint dried, I created a background by gluing white poster board in the area behind the picture window.  I did this so the pictures of the children posing as cowboys/cowgirls would turn out better HOWEVER you could skip this step and I don’t think it would make much difference.

white poster board background

If you do glue a white poster board background, I simply used Elmer’s standard glue and smeared it around with a paintbrush to avoid any ridges or bumps showing through.  I also did this to make sure the glue covered all the edges.

Poster board wet with glue tends to curl up at the edges.  To fix this, I laid the box down and used weights (books) until all the edges were dry (see pic below).

weigh the edges down until the glue dries

After finishing the booth, I turned my attention to the WANTED poster.

Make a WANTED sign from a posterboard

I took a standard white poster board and stained it for an aged appearance.  To stain it a brownish color, I made a batch of tea and poured it into my bathtub.  Then, I soaked the poster board in the the tea water for an hour or so.


While the poster board was wet, I carefully tore all the edges off and let it soak a little longer in the tea mixture.  Be careful when making the torn edges because the paper rips very easily when wet.


I also folded and crumpled the poster board in the tea water to give it some lines and character.


After it soaked long enough, I let it air dry overnight on a towel.  While the poster was drying, I printed the words, “WANTED $20,000 REWARD” and cut out each individual letter (yes, a little time consuming but not terrible if done while watching your favorite TV show).


I don’t have pictures of cutting out the letters or gluing them on, but I’m sure you can imagine how it’s done. :)

I need guidelines, so I chose to cut out the square picture hole first before attempting to glue the letters on straight.  I also used a ruler to get the lettering in a straight line, but that’s just my perfectionist side.  Everything else I did free hand. :)  For pasting the letters on, I found it much easier to use a glue stick.


Finally, I glued the finished poster board onto the box using Elmer’s school glue (FYI a glue stick isn’t strong enough for this part).  Like earlier, I smeared the glue on the backside with a paintbrush so there were no visible ridges or lines.

If you look closely in the picture below, the black numbers and letters have texture to them.  I did this by swirling the glue stick over the top of each letter/number.  It acted similar to mod-podge and the swirling effect gave it a weathered appearance.  I’m sure there must be a product that would create this same appearance more intentionally, but again, I was doing my best to be creative with the basics I had on hand.


After all the glue was dry, I added one last antiquing touch.  I rubbed the side of a brown crayon over parts of the poster board wherever it needed extra staining marks.  It’s hard to see this addition since I took my pictures in bright daylight.  However, I promise the poster board looked old and weathered!


And voila~

make your own WANTED photo booth



My last addition was to glue a black poster board on the top side.  This is another step not completely necessary (especially if you have a new box).  Remember, the top of my booth was the old bottom side of my moving box.  It’s fair to say, it needed a fresh looking “lid” for the photos. :)


I realize everyone is in a Thanksgiving and Christmas mindset.  So, you’ll have to tuck this little how-to project away on Pinterest if you’re planning a Cowboy themed party in your child’s future.  Below is a Pinnable collage of pictures to spark your creativity later. ;)  As always, please don’t hesitate to ask questions!  Oh, and check back soon for how I made photo props and table decorations!

Cowboy Photo Booth Collage

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  1. Super creative idea, I love it!!!
    Morganize w/Me! recently posted…Organizing & Decorating a BookshelfMy Profile

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