Ron Swanson Serving Trays

I’m crossing my fingers that most of y’all know who Ron Swanson is. If you do, then I have a project you will love. If not, well…. then I have a TV show recommendation that you should binge watch on Netflix.

DIY you have me at meat tornado serving tray

The December challenge for my BHG sponsored post was “meaningful gift ideas”, so I grabbed two of these bamboo trays as my jumping off point.

BHG Bamboo Tray

I wanted to personalize them, and since they will likely be going in the white elephant for Adam’s family I figured a quote from a movie or TV show would do the trick. After all, his family communicates in their own special language consisting of movie quotes, sarcasm, and crap talk. It’s a beautiful thing.

I wanted to use food related quotes since they will be going on serving trays, and after brainstorming for a while it dawned on me. If it’s a food related quote you’re looking for (or any quote, really) then there no one better to turn to than Ron Swanson. If you’re not familiar with Ron Swanson, he is a character of the show Parks and Recreation. He loves meat, woodworking, and freedom, and he has some of the best one-liners on TV. So I thought about all my favorite Ron Swanson food quotes and these are the two gems I picked.

Which turned into these two trays…

Ron Swanson wooden serving trays

So here is how I made them. You don’t need any special tools or cutting machines, you can make these out of things you have on hand. Promise.

First create your design on the computer and print it out.

Ron Swanson food quote

Then flip it over and cover all the words with pencil lead. Don’t be stingy.

how to make a painted wood sign

Then flip it back over and tape the paper to the tray.

you had me at meat tornado

Now take a pen and trace the design, pressing hard.

transferring images from paper to wood

Doing this transfers the lead from the back of the paper to the tray.

transferring letters from paper to wood

After that you can fill in the letters with paint or a sharpie or whatever your heart desires. Simple, right?


I had (what I thought was) a great idea to use my wood burning tool to burn the design into the tray.

woodburning bamboo (doesn't really work)

But as it turns out, wood burning bamboo doesn’t really work. It took forever and just looked like crappy brown pen, so I called it. I gave up. No super cool wood burned Ron Swanson tray.

Plan two – Grab a paint pen and draw over the words. I worked great, but I just didn’t like it.

tray fail #2

(Also, it’s very important to shake paint pens before using them…otherwise if you take a break and come back you will end up with two different colors.)

Plan three – Paint it white and start the whole process over with a different design.

serving tray

Ahhh, sweet victory.

DIY you have me at meat tornado serving tray

How to transfer letters from paper to wood

I added a couple other items to the tray to round out the gift, the first being this blanket from Better Homes and Gardens.

The softest blanket ever - and only $15!

This blanket is only $15, comes in lots of beautiful designs, and is crazy soft. I also added a clear storage container and filled it with a cookie mix and recipe.

simple and personal gift idea

And there you have it…a simple, personalized gift idea.

I don’t know if anyone would be interested (ha!), but BHG has also offered a $100 Walmart gift card to one lucky winner. Enter using the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


For even more inspiration follow Better Homes and Gardens at Walmart on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

*This post was sponsored by the BHG Live Better Network. All opinions are 100% my own.

How to transfer letters from paper to wood

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  1. Jan Elizabeth says:

    Nice! I’m sure they will love them. I should try that pencil tracing method, I’m so intimidated by people with their projectors, printers and cricuts…

  2. We love Ron Swanson! Hilarious and a great idea! I always love how you give the details of what didn’t work for you when you blog a project. It gives me hope that I also could manage this project. Sometimes you have to change your plan, but that doesn’t mean you should give up.

  3. I love these! I actually have Nick Offerman’s book on my to-read list. I’ve read bits and pieces here and there and think it’s hilarious, pretty much just like his character.

  4. chris aka monkey says:

    they are a hoot xx

  5. Karen Garman says:

    These are the greatest!

  6. Ron Swanson is brilliant and my hero! Love your gift idea.

  7. Leaving a comment just to say, I love your blog! Merry Christmas!

  8. I so enjoy your blog! Merry Christmas!!

  9. These are hilarious and awesome! I shared on FB and Pinterest. :)


  10. Tracy DeLoach says:

    Your trays really came out great Ashley and they made me laugh, but so did your post. :) What a nice gift idea too. I love a packaged bundle like that. Thank you for the chance to enter your very generous giveaway. Merry Christmas to you & your family!

  11. Giulia Brooks says:

    Ashley, two things:
    You need to save the emails (above), as we are your kindred spirits. We love P&R, and particularly, Ron Swanson, because he’s awesome.
    Two, you need a Silhouette machine, girlfriend! It would revolutionize your life! If we lived close to each other, I’d share it with you.
    (Btw, if you do ever get one, let me know. The software sucks, not even as good as Powerpoint, for goodness sake! I mean, to crop something takes an act of God. You’ll need moral support, but it can be navigated.)

    • I actually own a silhouette machine, bought it a few years ago. That thing frustrates the hell out of me, so I let a friend borrow it in indefinitely and just do things by hand. It’s amazing when it works, but good grief…


  1. […] Attending a white elephant gift exchange? Ashley from Domestic Imperfection recommends personalizing gifts in a do-it-yourself fashion. She added a witty food quote to […]

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