Friday, June 14, 2019

CRAFT TIME: Turn Your Board Games Into Pretty Display Books!

John and I were out shopping last week when I spotted a book version of a board game, which was kind of like this:

I immediately flashed to what our game shelf in the closet looked like, which was kind of like this:


Let's face it: we all hide our board games in the closet, not because we're ashamed of them, but because the boxes are hideous. No decor on earth is going to work with that garish jumble of colors and graphics.

Ahhh, but what if we could make those ugly game boxes look like pretty books, so we could display them out in the open?

Like this?

As a wise Emperor once said, 

"Boom, baby."

Here's what they look like from the front:

Aren't they pretty? I am so excited about this.


I modified each of these four "books" in a slightly different way, so I can show you some options for your own game box upgrades. The most exciting is my Scrabble box, since I was able to modify both the board and the box to be literally half their original size. (WOOT!) This is a huge space-saver for all those classic games that come in awkwardly long boxes!

Let's start with the one that's the easiest and the most useful, though: the card book.


 You can buy this paper mache box at most craft stores for $5 or less. It's not the best quality, though, so you may want to spend a few dollars more on a pre-printed version from any home goods store, which you also wouldn't have to paint.

I actually wanted to paint mine, because I found the perfect graphic to cut with my Cricut:
 I love the art deco vibes. 

 I painted the box with cheap craft paint, then sprayed on a glossy lacquer clear coat to give it a leather-like sheen. After that I added the gold vinyl cut with my Cricut. (This whole craft was basically an excuse to get to know my Cricut better. By the last one I was much more comfortable working in Design Space)

This little book holds all of our card games - 10 decks! -  which freed up a bunch of room in the drawer where they used to be:


PLUS it's a handy new display piece, since I'm always looking for nice books to use as risers:
Ahh, I love hiding storage in plain sight!
The next easiest mod here is my Apples to Apples box.

All I did was paint the top lid and add the vinyl lettering and graphics:

To paint your game boxes you must - MUST - use a spray primer first. Otherwise your paint won't stick to the shiny box finish. 

I primed this one in black, then brushed on two coats of red craft paint, which left a slightly streaky finish that I really like. Then I clear coated it with the same spray lacquer as the book box.

 All of the vinyl details I found for free via Google image search.

You only need to paint the top lid of these boxes, btw, so don't bother with the bottoms! Those will be hidden regardless of how you store it on your shelf, vertical or horizontal.

For a slightly more challenging upgrade, you can cover your box lid with faux vinyl instead of painting it. That's what I did for Clue:

It took me forever to find this stick-on vinyl, which is actually a shelf liner. A 15-foot roll only costs about $8 on Amazon, too, with free Prime shipping. It's incredibly thin and easy to use, so I highly recommend this stuff. I only wish it came in more colors!

(There are also lots of other pretty shelf liner patterns you could use, too. I just like this one best because it has a slight leathery texture, while I believe the others are perfectly smooth.)

To apply the vinyl, cut and fold it over the edges of your box lid just like you would wrapping paper. If you've ever wrapped a box lid separately from the base, then this will be a breeze; it's the same process, and luckily the vinyl is NOT a permanent stick, so it's easy to reposition.

Make sure you smooth out the bubbles before moving on to the sides. This is really easy to do, since the vinyl is so low-tack.

In fact, the vinyl is SO easy to remove you'll have to add extra tape or glue to hold the edges down, just like you would with wrapping paper. It's sticky enough to cling to the flat surfaces of the box, but not much more.

 That brings me to the most complicated game box make-over: my Scrabble box.

Not gonna lie, I'm super excited about this one, because MY IDEA ACTUALLY WORKED. (Eeee!)

Here, lemme show you:


My modified box opens on a hinge, like this:


 And then the board inside folds into quarters, instead of only folding in half:

 The board, fully folded.

 Flip the board open once, and you'll see my taped hinge. (John gave me grief about using packing tape, but hey, IT WORKS. Plus it's on the back so you never see it.)

When the board is open you CAN see my cut line if you look closely, but it doesn't affect game play, so I don't mind.

I'm sure you can reverse engineer how I did this, but let me walk you through it anyway:

Mark the center line on the back of your folded rectangular board.

Next use a craft bladed to cut the entire board in half:

 This will take several passes with the blade, but it should cut cleanly through.

Open the board and place the two cut sides back together again, playing side down:

Now use packing tape, duct tape, or book binding tape (anything super strong, really) to tape ONLY THE LOWER HALF of the cut ends back together:
 The other cut side will stay loose with no tape; only this one side needs a hinge. You should also ONLY apply the tape to the back side of the board, not the front.

And that's it! Now you can make all your long rectangular board games half their size!

Ahh, and once your BOARD is half the size, look at all this extra room in the original box:

You only need half the box, you guys. We can get rid of the rest!

 This is one of those things that's easy to do but hard to explain, but basically, cut the lower half of your box like this:

 Then fold & tape that flap up to form the new lid edge, like this:

Repeat for the top half, but instead of taping that final flap up, instead GLUE that new flap to the lower half of the box, like this:

 This will give you a hinged lid that opens like a clamshell. Or like a book!

Another view:

Covering this kind of hinged box with vinyl is definitely trickier, but I was able to figure it out without too much trouble. Start with the far edge like I have here, then do the opposite edge, then move on to the sides. Remember to glue or tape the inner edges down, since the vinyl isn't sticky enough to hold on its own.

 And there you have it: four ways to upgrade your game boxes!

Since I'm all about showing off the things we love in our homes, I'm really excited about this DIY - and honestly I wish I had more board games to upgrade. Finding the graphics for the Cricut was surprisingly fun, plus matching the fonts to the styles and whatnot. And of course, since I'm mostly modifying what I already own, it's a pretty cheap craft.


For those of you who DON'T have a Cricut, the easiest option is to just print out labels & graphics and glue them directly to the box. This is best for the "spine" of the box where the paper won't get scraped by other books next to it. For the front side of the box you can laminate over the paper with packing tape or clear shelf liner to make it all smooth.

Another option: stick-on letters from the scrap-booking aisle. You might even find fun stickers that co-ordinate with the game, like my apple and magnifying glass.

Final option: print your graphic on card stock, cut it out with a craft blade, and you've made your own stencil! This is perfect for easy graphics like my big apple, and then you can use any color spray paint, no clear coat or laminating required.

I hope this inspires some of you gamers out there to get crafty this weekend! And if you do give your games a makeover, PLEASE SHARE PHOTOS so I can see!

Happy weekend!


Looking for more DIY goodies? Then check out my Craft Page! I've got over 150 different project previews all on one page for you to scroll through. From Harry Potter snitches to steampunk rayguns, I've got a little of everything over there.

And if you'd like to help support Epbot so I can keep on craftin' on, then how about shopping through my Amazon links? (USAUK, Canada.) Or tagging a friend who'd like this on Facebook?

Thanks, gang! I love you all 3,000. :;mwah::


  1. I did not need to see this. If you look at my stories on Instagram, you can see part of how we're storing the growing game collection (very very visible, my SO had a major discount at a game store too...). It was a pain to see how we can fit them all on the shelving but now I want to cover them in blacks and whites and golds to go with our frames in the room and further complicate things. Ditto DVDs/BluRays.

    1. Yasssssss. I know this is a time-consuming craft, but I feel like it's such a long-term pay-off that it's worth it!

  2. Ooooh...I love it! Great idea!

  3. This is awesome! I was just reorganizing some shelves and planning to move my board games to make more room for books. Now I can camouflage them in with the books. I even have paint and tape already. And I can do them in a comic book style to go with my decor! Thanks so much for sharing this great (and simple; I like simple) idea. ^_^

    1. Ohhh, I love the idea of a comic-book style! If you do this, tag me a photo so I can see!

  4. *splutters through her early morning tea*

    Putting small games in one big box so they don't get lost in the jumble? 😲😲🤯🤯🤯 This genuinely feels like a complete and utter revelation! 😍😍😍

    I've not yet finished Tea #1 this morning and I've just re-stacked most of my games vertically, put one expansion pack in with the game itself and packs of cards and dominoes and dice and whatnot are now in the spare box. It looks so much prettier now!

    I'm now giving the Monopoly and chess sets the side eye for being excessively rectangular...I might cut them down during my week off.

    1. WOOT! Careful, this is an addicting DIY. ;)

  5. Do you have any recommendations for how to make the graphics WITHOUT a Circuit? I've been loving your posts showing off what it can do, but I don't do enough of these types of crafts to justify buying one.

    I also had some game recommendations based on your photo up there. Have you ever played Quarriors!? It's basically deck building with dice, but it's one of the most balanced games I've every played. There are pretty custom die and cards that make it so every game is different. 2-4 players.

    Another suggestion is Terraforming Mars. That one is more like a slightly competitive version of Pandemic. 1-5 players.

    Your craft looks amazing, BTW. Happy gaming!

    1. Thanks for the suggestions - we're very much board game newbs, so I'll check those out!

      As for non-Cricut options, a few ideas: the easiest way is to just print out labels & graphics and glue them to the box. This is best for the "spine" of the box where the paper won't get scraped by other books next to it. For the front sides of the box you can laminate over the paper with packing tape or clear shelf liner to make it all smooth.

      Another option: stick-on letters from the scrap-booking aisle. You might even find fun stickers that co-ordinate with the game, like my apple and magnifying glass.

      Final option: print your graphic on card stock, cut it out with a craft blade, and you've made your own stencil! This is perfect for easy graphics like my big apple and then you can use any color spray paint, no clear coat or laminating required.

      This was an awesome question, thanks for asking it! I'm going to add this into the post now. :)

    2. Hi risforrose, my husband loves Quarriors! It's a really fun game. I got him some watchmaker's cases from Lee Valley Tools to store all the different colours of dice in - they fit so much more neatly in the box now. :),43326,44948

  6. This is very cute for mass market games but doing this to a specialty game would torpedo its resale or collector value. Be careful. I have a few basic seeming games that I was surprised to learn had doubled or tripled in value because they were an early edition or had gone out of print.
    A few months ago my friend sold a dusty old childhood game for $350 on Ebay.

    1. If it's an old game in awesome condition, it may be something you want to display on it's own. Or just get rid of because you're not playing it. If it's something that you play, but don't want to damage the original box, there are tons of other games at garage sales/thrift shops, buy a different box and store the original game box for posterity/eventual resale. This is (in my opinion) a great way to fit game storage into smaller/more public spaces.

    2. Wow, good to know! Obviously we don't have any niche games, but that's a great heads-up for those who do.

  7. Oh dear... this is so cute, but now I have to figure out whether to show this to my husband. Minimizing and consolidating is basically his love language, and he has been known to do things like buy empty Blu-ray cases and trim down dvd covers to fit so the movie collection is more uniform on the shelves. If I tell him he can half the size of a Scrabble box, it's over. 😂

    1. Bahaha! I'm a little like your hubby, which I think is why this one has me so pumped. I'm already eyeing all the "ugly" books I have hidden away and brainstorming ways to mass produce pretty book covers. :p

  8. I love this!!!! I don't have a cricut, but just the idea of buying the faux book and using it to store all the little card games, dice games, etc. is brilliant! We're in the middle of downsizing our toys & games because I'm no longer going to be doing after school care in our home, and I'm trying to find a way to store the things we're keeping in a way that feels more "grown up" instead of "kids play room". I might not have the patience or skills to convert game boxes, but I can buy and paint a few faux books! Bonus, I might even come up with a way to make them vaguely steampunk-ish so I can continue to slowly transform the room into a steampunk theme. Maybe some antique map paper?

    1. Stores like Home Goods and Hobby Lobby, etc have book boxes that are already decorated in antique styles, you can add words or symbols if you want to label them. Some are even a little steampunk looking already!

    2. I just found some on Amazon that have an old map pattern on them, which would work great with our antique globe. I'm starting to think about using boxes like this to hide other things in our living room, too - like the remotes, game controllers, cat toys...

    3. It's really easy to "antique" paper maps with brewed black tea! It's easier to work with it once it's cooled down. Depending on the size of the paper you wish to dye and the texture you are looking to have, you'll need either a flattish vessel or a large pot. If you want it very textured, you can lightly ball the paper and dunk in. Start with only a little time -30 seconds or so then see what you like. The time you'll need with depend on the thickness and texture of the paper and your aesthetic. If you want the paper to remain straight, find something that is at least as wide as one of the dimensions you'd like to match so you can immerse one end, then sort of roll it through slowly, allowing the other end to drip in the pan you are using. I hope that makes sense. Happy antiquing!!

  9. This is absolutely amazing! I see some room in my game room...

  10. They make versions of some board gamed that come cut to be able to fold into quarters. I believe monopoly is one I've seen and it was either scrabble or parcheesi that was the other (both?). They're built the same way as here, but without the fear of a bad cut abd using the same fabric tape as the main hinge.

    1. I'm pretty sure some of my kids' Junior version board games are square like that!

    2. Parker Brothers came out with some bookshelf versions that do exactly this and come in book shaped/sized boxes in the mid 2000's. Our copy of Stratego is this version.

  11. What an amazing idea and they turned out so GORGEOUS! The thing I like best is how everyone can change up the outsides to fit their own decor (farmhouse-y or modern or whatever).

  12. You may be able to color your silver foil with alcohol ink, depending on the finish- Some mylars don't take to kindly to it, but it is worth a shot! Gorgeous and inspiring as always!

  13. This would be an awesome tutorial to do on your Epbot YouTube channel! I always love your tutorials here, but to watch you doing it would be even better. Especially the covering with vinyl for those that are present-wrapping-challenged. 😂

  14. With generic mass-market games, sure. But hobby gaming has some fantastic artists, and the boxes are worth showing off like prints!

    Kwanchai Moriya:

    Or Beth Sobel:

    Or Jakob Rozalski (yes, I know there’s a little controversy there):


    1. I'm quickly learning this is NOT a craft for the hard-core niche gamers - but then, you gamers already knew that. ;)

      So yeah, obviously my DIY is only a solution if you consider your game boxes an eye sore in the first place. If not, then show those babies off with pride!

      There's actually a whole thread on FOE today of folks showing off their MASSIVE game collections, which is amazing. If you've got a whole open wall of 300+ indie games, then I think it's safe to say this is NOT the craft for you - and I'll never try to convince you otherwise. Everyone displays their passions their own way, and I'm all for it. <3

  15. We are barely containing our games in the "games chest" these days so I may have to try this for a few of the basic games that get played often. I might use this instead though for new Magic and Pokemon card storage as I just split 3 boys into 2 rooms and we are doing lots of re-organization of stuff!

  16. This is fabulous - love the pretty organizing posts! Thanks for the ideas!

  17. Oh. Boy. We're getting ready to move and all our games have already been packed but this might be the craft that is first in line at the new house. Just stick the boxes of games in the craft room until we can re-do them all. And get open ladder shelving for the family room to display all the new pretties. Thank you for answering the question of where they will go, how to get them all to fit, and all that jazz!!!!!!!

  18. Do you have trouble with cards going everywhere for games like Apples to Apples stored side-on?

    1. A little with Apples, yes, but the card slots reach nearly to the top of the box, so only 20-30 slide down, and are pretty easy to put back in place.

  19. Just a thought for those that don't have a Cricut at home. Check out your local library. Ours has a collection of craft and tech tools that you can check out, and a makerspace that has a couple of Cricuts in it that you can come to the library to use.


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