A book on country style gave me the idea for turning a kid's metal tray into a message board. And I knew it would be perfect for my country kitchen. Years ago I found three slightly dented metal trays at a yard sale. I wasn't sure what to do with them, but they were my favorite Nile green and figured I'd find a use for them eventually.
This was one of those projects that required no trips to the store... don't you love those? I had everything I needed: metal trays, picture frame hangars, glue suitable for bonding materials to metal.
The whole project was super simple. Just clean the tray, mark the top center on the back of the tray, and glue on the picture frame hangar. Be sure to use glue that's designed for bonding to metal. You could also drill holes and use picture hanging wire, but I decided to keep the trays intact.
Making custom magnets was just as easy. Just collect a few favorite bits and pieces, and glue a magnet to the back of each. My favorites are poker chip tokens from geocaching, colored dice, tokens from games like Monopoly or Scrabble, foreign coins, and wine corks from favorite wineries.
There are a couple of good options for magnets. Round ceramic magnets are strong, but they're heavy, and I didn't like how these thick magnets looked on the back of small tokens. I recommend using rare earth magnets. They're super strong, lightweight, and thin, perfect for tokens of all sizes. I would recommend avoiding sheets of magnets; they're easy to cut and adhere, but aren't strong enough to hold tight on a painted tray. You can find both the ceramic and rare earth magnets at Harbor Freight for much less money than the craft stores.
I liked the first message board so much, I made a second one. One hangs near the phone, and it's used for invitations and reminders of local events. The other is near the pantry, and it holds my grocery list.
The extra magnets are stored across the bottom rim of the tray, ready to use.