Faking a Skotch Kooler for Plaid Christmas Decor

Faking a Skotch Kooler for Plaid Christmas Decor

For many years now, I’ve admired the look of a vintage Skotch Kooler. It works so wonderfully as plaid Christmas decor, but I rarely find them at local antiques shops. I did, however, find a red Thermos cooler while thrifting earlier this year, and an idea began to form.

Red cooler for upcycling into plaid Christmas decor

What if I created my own version of a Skotch Kooler on this beverage cooler? What if I stenciled a similar pattern with the buffalo plaid and plaid shirt stencils by Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils?

But I had one hang up – stenciling on the smooth plastic of the Thermos cooler. I had stenciled on a cooler once before and the stenciling turned out a bit fuzzier than I would have liked.

Wine bottle cooler for a patio happy hour from an Igloo beverage cooler

So, I decided to experiment with some clear primer on the smooth plastic surface. Would it help my stencil lines to be crisp and clear? There was only one way to find out!

Clear primer on smooth plastic for stenciling

This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. All blue, bold, and underlined text is a clickable link, either to a product or to a related post.

All stencils used in this tutorial have been provided to me free of charge by Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils; however, all opinions are my own.

Using a Buffalo Plaid Stencil on a Cooler

As I mentioned before, I started by giving the Thermos cooler a healthy coverage with clear primer. It didn’t change the appearance of my cooler as it was perfectly clear, but it was definitely a matte finish.

Next, I gathered up my stenciling supplies, including the Buffalo plaid stencil from Old Sign Stencils. As you can see, I’ve used it before on a couple of projects.

Buffalo plaid stencil from Funky Junk Interiors for plaid decor

I taped the stencil to the cooler and stippled on some black latex paint.

Buffalo plaid Christmas decor on a red cooler

When all was said and done, I removed the stencil and was amazed.

The clear primer had done EXACTLY what I had wanted. My stenciling was crisp and clear, even on a smooth plastic surface!

Upcycling a cooler as plaid Christmas decor

My experiment was a rousing success!

But that was only one half of my experiment – I still needed to add the yellow lines of a classic Skotch Kooler to complete my plaid Christmas decor.

And to do that, I used the Plaid Shirt Stencil from Old Sign Stencils. I also grabbed some yellow craft paint and a smaller stencil brush, too.

Plaid stencils to create a Skotch Kooler

Just as before, I carefully taped the stencil to the cooler with painter’s tape and began to add the yellow plaid. But, then…

The doorbell rang.

Which startled me.

My hand moved.

And one of my plaid lines ended up thicker as a result.

Clearly I need a “Careful Crafting Inside; Do Not Ring Bell” sign on my door. But I was committed to moving forward – goof or no goof.

Faking a Skotch Kooler for Plaid Christmas Decor

Anyway…in the end, my goof up didn’t really matter. My Christmas plaid decor idea was ultimately a success. Both stencils worked brilliantly to give me that Skotch Kooler look that I love!

Getting the look of a Skotch Kooler for plaid Christmas decor

After I finished stenciling all the way around (avoiding the handle), I sprayed the whole thing down with a matte top coat.\

I added a little water inside the cooler and filled it with evergreen branches from my yard. Which counts as yard work in my book!

Buffalo check Christmas decor with an upcycled cooler

And just like that, I had a nice large piece of plaid Christmas decor to add to my collection. It may not be a true Skotch Kooler, but it definitely scratches that itch!

Plaid decor for Christmas with Buffalo plaid stencil

Even with my doorbell-goof, I just love it! It coordinates swimmingly with my small Thermos collection. I just love creating Buffalo check decor or plaid decor with those Old Sign Stencils!

And if you enjoy plaid Christmas decorations as much as I do, then you’ll also love this plaid Christmas wreath that I made from flannel shirts!

Plaid Christmas wreath from recycled flannel shirts

And remember, my book, “Crafting with Flannel”, has an entire chapter dedicated to Christmas ideas. So you KNOW it’s filled with all things Christmas plaid!

christmas projects in crafting with flannel

Craft on!


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Repurposing a red cooler into plaid Christmas decor with stencils

Using Plaid stencils to create rustic Christmas decor

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Barbara Booth says

    Looks like the real thing. Great Job 🙂

  2. Sarah, you never cease to amaze! I love this!

  3. Carmen Montmarquet says

    You did a fabulous job! I love that plaid too!

  4. I never saw a Skotch Kooler but I have now. Your collection is so Kool.

  5. It looks amazing!!! You have great ideas.

  6. Wendy Oyler says

    It looks terrific! So cute! I didn’t know there was a clear primer, that is great information!! Love the snow globes too. ❤️

  7. Tammy Harris says

    Oh Sadie…this is fabulous! I just love it!!

  8. vickie l obrien says

    Sadie, I am always impressed by your re-purpose and upcylce projects — you are an inspiriation!!

  9. So beautiful! Great job!

  10. Wooooaaaa,,,,,,,,, girl, what a brilliant vision and execution on this plaid cooler! I just love it and it looks perfect in your vignette.

  11. Stephanie Mendel says

    Wow! Great job! Wish my “doorbell interruption” crafts turned out so cute!?

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      No matter how many times I do it, stenciling makes me nervous/anxious! Especially on this project when the black buffalo check had worked like a charm and the yellow plaid was the last step.

  12. Mary Loveland says

    Really cute Sadie! Glad there are folks like you to save those cool patterns and also to show us how to duplicate! Thank you

  13. Oh my gosh… what a cool project! And I’m going to be looking into that primer because your results are outstanding! So cool and original!!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you!! It made such a huge difference – in fact, I had a “project fail” on plastic last year, but I kept the things I was stenciling. Will try the primer on them this year now! (and when I was searching for it, it looked like some auto parts shops sold it, too…in case Canadian Amazon comes up short).

  14. Love it! Would never have known it was an upcycle! Plaid is such a great design for Christmas! Nice job!

  15. Great job, Sarah! I pinned this. I just sold a vintage Skotch cooler to purge storage, but still love the look.

  16. Donna Gonzalez says

    What a great DIY project. I share your love of Skotch plaid thermoses, lunch boxes, picnic sets, etc.

  17. Amazing! You are sooooo talented!

  18. Amazed as always. You certainly have a knack for creating. Good job!

  19. So clever !!

  20. Oh my goodness – it’s perfect!! I just love it. Well done you!!! (By the way, LOVE the new photo of you on the site – gorgeous!)

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you so very much – on both counts! I had a photo shoot recently because I needed an author photo for the back of my book. 🙂

  21. Amazing makeover I thought it was the real deal! Love the green bottle too where did you find that?
    Happy Thanksgiving,
    Ps. Please share this on my site at the You’re The Star blog hop

  22. This is SO creative!! Turned out amazing and I learned about clear primer so thank you!!

  23. Oh how CUTE!!! You did a great job!

  24. Karolyn Love says

    Sadie, I truthfully thought you had found a Skotch Cooler before I read your post!!! It looks perfect…you did an amazing job!! Love your collection and the snow globes, too! Happy Thanksgiving!!

  25. First off, you qualify for an award for even attempting to stencil a non-flat surface! I bow down to you! You really rocked this project Sarah, and showed the masses how amazing a stencil really can turn out. Fabulous!

    I’ve featured this project in this weekend’s DIY Salvaged Junk Projects 503… thanks for bringing it over! 🙂

  26. LMAO about the potential sign – the struggle is real! Your thrift store cooler looks like the real thing and when I saw your vignette photos on social media, I assumed that it was. Stored the clear primer tip in the ole noggin, thanks 🙂

  27. Knocked it out of the park with this one, Sarah! Adorable:)

  28. I Love this!!!! How awesome is that!!!! Thank you for sharing even though I see it was from last year, I’m a little late, lol! I Love all things like this. Since I don’t have the real deal, I am on the look out for a cooler now to make one. I subscribed to your news letter so I don’t miss out on these fun projects!!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Haha, no problem, Sandi- and thank you! I’m going into my 7th year of blogging in just a few days…so I have a more than a few older posts. 😉


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