The 6 Stages Of Painting A Cooler

The 6 Stages Of Painting A Cooler

Cooler painting. It’s a rite of passage for any sorority girl. Maybe your not-boyfriend asked you to his formal and you have (stupidly) convinced yourself that if you make the cooler perfect enough, you guys can start dropping the ‘not’ and he’ll actually be your boyfriend. Or maybe you’re making the cooler as a gift for one of your besties.

I fall into the latter category. I have just completed my first cooler ever, a gift for my little one’s upcoming 21st birthday. Similar to the stages of grief, I am confident that everyone who has ever painted a cooler will undoubtedly experience every single one of the following emotions before completion of their project. You’ve been warned.

If it’s your first time, you’ve somehow deluded yourself into thinking that painting a cooler will be a fun and pleasurable experience. You’ve Pinterested a ton of ideas and despite having the artistic ability of a toddler suffering from ADD, you seem to think that you’ll be able to mimic the extravagant designs you’ve fallen in love with. You’re excited to get started and stoked to see the final product. Ha.

If you’ve painted coolers before, you’re going to be looking back on past experiences through rose-colored glasses. All you remember is the finished product, the joy and appreciation of the person on the receiving end of hours’ worth of work. You’ve conveniently forgotten about all the hell you went through on your previous projects and now can’t wait to try a new one.

You had a (bad) idea to paint a cooler, but you didn’t really plan it out, did you? Nope. And now you’re stressed AF. Maybe you did a little research, so you know you need to sand and prime before painting. Welp, that’s a start. What you didn’t factor in is that sanding without an electric sander is equivalent to the type of torture Guantanamo Bay came under fire for. It will take forever and your hands will more than likely blister, leaving you wondering as to why you didn’t buy an electric sander to begin with. Oh wait, that’s right, it was because it was $25 and keeping true to form, you didn’t factor in how much paints, brushes, tape, primer, sealer, and the cooler were going to cost. You’re a quintessential broke college kid and the effects this little project is having on your bank account has you wondering if you’re going to be able to afford lunch this week. Oh ya, stressed is the ideal way to describe you right now.

You’ve finally started the actual painting portion of this endeavor and have irrationally deluded yourself into thinking that the worst is behind you. The sides you’ve been working on have been coming out better than you expected which has you pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t matter that you haven’t started any of the detailed work yet, right now, you’re a glass half full type of gal. At this point, you’re probably laughing at all the losers who had so many issues with their own coolers. Clearly they just aren’t as skilled as you are. Positivity radiates off of you and you are already internally thinking about the next cooler you’re going to do. Don’t worry, this will change.

Oh how naïve you were in thinking that the worst was behind you. You tried your hand at an overly intricate design and had to scrap it completely, right down to the dreadful re-sanding process. And you can’t even count how many times you had to repaint one spot because you kept messing up your lettering. You’ve become such a regular at your local craft store that the sales people know you by name. What you thought would be a simple, sweet, cheap alternative to buying a gift has now turned into something that costs roughly the same as a ring from Tiffany. With each brush stroke, you can’t help but regret your decision and wish you would’ve taken the easy way out and just bought a gift. It would’ve been less expensive and your friend would probably get more use out of it anyway.

You ARE NOT a quitter. Hell no. Throughout all the ups and downs of this godforsaken project, you will finish. Maybe you’re on a deadline and D-day is fast approaching. It doesn’t matter. Isn’t that what Adderall is made for after all? This is a testament of your will and no matter how much you want to brutally murder the person you are giving this to because you decided to make them a cooler, you will persevere. By any means necessary and with the aid of copious amounts of wine, you will not let an inanimate object best you. This has now become a competition you are determined to win.

YOU FINISHED!!! Congrats to you. As you admire your handiwork, you can’t help but be proud of all you’ve accomplished. Maybe it’s not perfect and yeah, you couldn’t quite get the lettering right on that one side but you’re still damn pleased with how your cooler turned out. Not only are you proud of how it looks, but you’re pleased that you didn’t give in and call it quits. You could have very easily just scrapped the whole thing and saved a lot of time, money, and sanity, but you saw the project through. Pat yourself on your back because this project is finally over and you kicked its ass. Treat yourself to a glass (or entire box) of wine. You earned it.

All I can say now is that my little better fucking appreciate this damned thing.

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Champagne Showers is a contributing writer for TSM. She is your typical Northern Diva. If curse words, sexual content, and drug use offend you, then bless your heart. CS will continue living the life you're too scared to live. email her at:

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