1. Lay the ruler across the 12" end of the foam sheet. Make a mark every 4" with the black marker to create the boards. Do this at both ends of both foam sheets. Lay the ruler even with the marks at the top and bottom of the foam sheet. Hold the ruler tightly to the foam and use it as a guide while cutting the boards from the sheets with the serrated knife. Five 4" × 18" foam boards are needed; save the remaining foam for a future project. Lightly rub the cut edges together side by side to sand the edges smooth and remove the loose foam particles.
2. Wear protective gloves while working with drywall spackle. Apply one coat of spackle to the top and sides of all the foam boards. Apply the spackle in all directions being sure to completely fill the cells of the foam. Allow to dry. Sand the boards lightly with the sanding block until smooth. Apply a second coat of spackle to the tops and sides of all the boards. Allow to dry. Sand boards for a completely smooth finish.
3. Base coat the tops and sides of the boards with the white paint and allow to dry.
4. Graining Technique: add water to thin the red paint slightly; this will make it easier to work with and provide a little longer drying time. Working with one board at a time, apply a generous coat of the red paint. Working quickly while the paint is still wet, place the graining tool centered at the end of the board. With slight pressure, and rocking the tool up and down, pull it across the sheet. It is best not to stop while using the graining tool. Pull from one end of the board to the other end in one smooth motion. Grain the edges of the boards with the textured side of the tool. If the desired look is not achieved at first, wipe the paint from the board with a wet paper towel while it is still wet. Allow the board dry completely and try again. When desired look has been achieved, allow all boards to dry completely.
5. Using a dry brushing technique, lightly brush each board with the white paint to enhance the realistic wood grain look. Load a small amount of white paint on your dry brush and then wipe off excess on a paper towel. Hold the brush horizontally to the board and lightly brush across just the raised areas of the board. Notice that the graining tool left texture in the paint. This technique will bring out that texture.
6. Glue the boards together side by side.
7. Print a holiday message onto the cardstock and cut out with the craft knife for your template. Trace the holiday message onto the boards. Paint the traced message with white paint and outline the letters with the black paint pen. Allot to dry completely.
8. Glue lengths of ribbon crisscrossed across the front of the pallet as shown. Make a small bow and glue where the ribbons cross on the front of the pallet.