I recently came across some old license plates that we’ve accumulated over the years. While license plates can be recycled, ours have lived in a box. Curious about other options for them, I began to look up ideas for what to do with old license plates.

Fun fact: New York became the first state to require license plates in 1901.

Upcycling Your Old License Plates

As I started to search, I was surprised by how many useful things can be made by upcycling old license plates. Here are just a few of the ideas I found for what to do with old license plates:

License Plate Box

This project I found at TheCavenderDiary.com looks simple — with only a few cuts and folds required. I envision a bunch of these sweet license plate boxes lining a shelf in a craft room, playroom or family room. They could be filled with craft supplies, matchbox cars or other small toys. The folks at The Cavender Diary used their boxes to serve pistachios and peanuts on their patio.

Old License Plate Snack Box. Photo: TheCavenderDiary.com

To see all the steps involved so you can craft your own license plate box, click HERE.

Wall Sconces

This next idea for what to do with old license plates, from GreenCricketSalvage.com, is adorable. I can picture these wall sconces hanging on the fence in our backyard with citronella candles perched on them. It would be a cute and durable way to add color for a backyard entertainment space.

Old License Plate Wall Sconces. Photo courtesy of GreenCricketSalvage.com.

This project doesn’t require any cutting or drilling. Figure out where you would like your fold to be, and then use something like a wooden block to fold the metal.


I’m constantly on the lookout for unique teacher gifts, especially for male teachers, who seem to be tougher to shop for. This repurposed license plate clipboard would be a perfect gift, I think. Clip on a gift card to a favorite restaurant and it becomes even better.

First, find clipboard hardware online or at a local craft store.

Then attach the hardware…