Turn an Old Suitcase into a Tea Party Set Holder

Article Posted By: Laura Sullivan

of The Home Depot

Sydney and Taylor Sullivan enjoy a new tea party set up.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of holding tea parties. When it was teatime, I would drag all my stuffed animals and dolls down two huge flights of carpeted stairs from my room to the front lawn. I remember placing  my plush little friends in a circle, then pouring what I’m sure was a delightful Earl Grey (actually water) or Darjeeling (also water). The conversation was delightful.

Such is the life of the only girl in the family–Cabbage Patch Kids and stuffed animals were my tea party companions.

My nieces don’t have that problem. Just a few years apart, they each have a companion for jumping in lakes or trying on crazy hats. I’m very pleased to say they’ve inherited my love of a well executed tea party.

I became smitten with the idea turning a vintage suitcase I had into a case for all of their party supplies. The old suitcase was one of those things that I had to have, though I purchased it with no particular purpose in mind. I had threatened to throw it away many times before it found this grand purpose. It had even made several trips to Goodwill, being very narrowly spared. Thank goodness I kept it.

Here is how you, too, can create a darling case for your tea party supplies–a wonderful DIY gift idea. It would make a dandy picnic hamper, too. The concept can be applied to any old suitcase—just size up the measurements accordingly.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Measuring tape

Plain white wooden trim or moulding

A miter box and saw

90-degree angle connectors

Extra-fine sandpaper

Spray paint

Small bungee cords (optional)

Organizers for the inside of the suitcase, like this tie and belt rack (found in Home Depot’s closet organization section)

1/2–inch wood screws and screwdriver

Hard-sided vintage suitcase (check thrift stores, like Goodwill or Salvation Army)

Old blankets, sheets and/or napkins


Step 1

Spray paint the angle connectors a color that looks spiffy with your suitcase.

Angle connectors spray painted blue


Step 2

Decide how many compartments you’d like and measure out the lengths of the pieces of wood. Measure them again. Hint: Don’t measure from the lip, but from the inside of your suitcase. You’ll want the wooden frame to be a very tight fit.

A tape measure inside of a suitcase


Step 3

Measure and mark the moulding to the correct size and cut with the miter box and saw. (You can also get the wood cut for you for FREE at your local Home Depot in the Building Materials department.) If you have a rectangular case, you’ll just need flat cuts. If you have a circular case, you’ll likely need some angles.

A tape measure next to a piece of molding


Step 4

Once all of the pieces are cut, try them out in suitcase to make sure they are correct.

Pieces of cut wood inside of a suitcase


Step 5

Attach all of the pieces with the angle connectors and wood screws. Also screw any organizational pieces, like the tie and belt rack we’re using as a mini-plate holder, into the frame with the screws.

Pieces of molding screwed together with connectors


Step 6

Put the frame into the suitcase. You may need to give it a few taps with the hammer to help it to settle into place.

A wooden frame being fit into a suitcase


Step 7

Put your tea party or picnic items into the suitcase. Top them with the blanket, tucking in the edges to secure the breakable pieces in their new cubbies. If your suitcase does not have ties, you may want to use bungee cords to secure the items.

Tea party items being put into their new case


Next, the best part: Take your tea party set or picnic lunch to a favorite outdoor spot and enjoy. That’s what my nieces did when I surprised them with the tea party case.

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