How in 5 Minutes You Can Make Your Desk Tidy, Permanently

Give your free time creative purpose

Get your kids to tidy up their desk (without nagging) by making a container they will actually want to put their pens in.

It’s a simple technique, but it works… well, what kid wouldn’t want to put their pens into a ‘psychadelic tin can pen holder’ with a unique label that makes the pens inside look warped and twisted?

All you need to do is just print out my artwork, and wrap it around a tin can… a 5 minute job… surely a tidy desk is worth that?

Tin can pen holder with a funky stick on label
Tin can pen holder with a funky stick on label

Note: I’m not sure how obvious the illusion is, but I was trying to give the impression that the pens in the tin can had been warped and twisted.

What will I learn?

1) Creating unique customised containers REALLY will encourage your kids to tidy up after themselves.

2) You can make something beautiful by doing nothing more than wrapping an object with a distinctive label.

3) Visually linking the design of a label to the contents (or function) of the object will enhance the overall effect.

Step by step guide

If you’d like to make one, I have made the artwork available for download, just sign up below and you be sent a link.

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Printable artwork

You may also want to add a raised base to lift the pens a little higher, it helps with the ‘visual illusion’, just follow the instructions below!

Print & Wrap
How to make a tin can pen holder: illustration 1

First, eat the tin of baked beans (it’s nice on toast) and then clean the tin and remove the label.

Download the label artwork and print it onto glossy paper (1). Ttrim it to size, and then glue it around the empty tin can (2).

Raised base
How to make a tin can pen holder: illustration 2

To stop the pens tilting over make an insert from 4 rectangular pieces of card glued together to form a cross (3).

Next, cut a long strip of card with glue tabs along one edge (3), and glue it onto a card disc that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the can (4).

Glue the insert onto the raised base and lower them both into the tin can (6).

Now all you need to do is add pens, try and fill it up, it helps the pens stand upright which creates a better effect.


  • One empty tin can
  • A4 sheet card (210gsm)
  • Paper glue
  • Scissors
  • Compass and ruler.

Give it your own unique twist

Try creating your own label. Draw the design onto plain paper and then scan or copy it onto glossy paper (it looks cooler and is easier to clean).

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author