How to Create Altered Vintage Playing Cards

I'm in love with these gorgeous vintage playing cards, and the best thing about them is how easy they are to make.

No fancy inks or time-consuming methods are needed, instead I used teabags to instantly transform a new pack of cards into a beautifully aged vintage deck.

Whenever I'm hosting a games night with friends, I like everything to match my go-to vintage tablescaping, so giving these cards this beautiful distressed look felt like the ultimate finishing touch.

What you'll need:

  • A pack of playing cards (I found this stunning botanical set, but using a bog standard pack will still work brilliantly)
  • Paint brushes
  • Some wire cooling racks
  • A freshly brewed pot of tea or coffee


  1. Brew your tea or coffee in a saucepan and allow it to cool just a little. Stand the saucepan on a cooling rack or wooden board whilst you work.
  2. Lay down some paper or an old sheet to protect your surfaces, and gently paint each card with the tea or coffee. Alternatively you can put the playing cards directly into the saucepan and gently swill them around to completely stain them, but painting them with a brush will give you a little more control over the look. For instance, maybe you just want to distress the edges or a small section of the card, it's up to you. If you're using the saucepan, the longer you leave the cards in the liquid, the darker the stain will be. Make sure you treat both sides of the card if you're only using the brush.
  3. Work your way through the pack and allow each card to dry on a wire cooling rack.
  4. Once they are completely dry you're ready to play!

This is a really relaxing activity to do alone, with a friend or with your kids, so enjoy and I hope it makes games night feel extra special!

Once you're ready to host your Games Night, check out our post on How to Throw a Vintage Games Night and create a beautiful table setting to match your new cards.