DIY Graduation Party Photo Backdrop

Giant Chalkboard

I was inspired by grad party photo backdrops on Pinterest and decided to make my own. Here’s how:

Supplies

  • 4′ x 8′ particleboard
  • roll of black paper
  • staple gun
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • chalk markers, thick and thin
  • tassels

Directions

  1. Staple gun black paper to particleboard.
  2. Using ruler, pencil in border, then color in with thick chalk marker.
  3. Find chalkboard alphabet online to use as inspiration. Pencil in “Congratulations,” then outline and fill in with thin chalk marker.
  4. Add “Class of 2019” (or appropriate year)
  5. Staple gun tassels to board.

One more thing you need…

A stepladder!

Graduation Party Theme: Chalkboard

Selfie Station. Cut a window out of a Foam Core Poster, add a chalkboard panel with the year, and provide fun selfie props.

Need a cool graduation party theme?

“Chalkboard” is the theme for the party I’m throwing my youngest. Chalk markers (purchased at Michael’s)and black cardstock are all you need. Find a “chalk alphabet” online to use an inspiration, pencil in letters, then outline with the markers and fill in with hatching.

Candy Bar:

Labels for the Candy Bar: Create small labels for candy containers. Honor Roll for Tootsie Rolls, Coloring for Gummy Crayons, Phys Ed for Chocolate Sports Balls, B-Day Treats for Mini Rice Krispie Treats, and Snack Time for Fruity Chews.

Centerpieces

Black ribbon with chalk letters: Wrap ribbon around mason jars and secure with hot glue. I layered the “ABC” ribbon over burlap-wrapped jars I’d made for previous parties. What’s going inside? Yellow Gerbera Daisies.

More party decor and details on the way…

Graduation Cookies

It’s that time of year!

Graduation is less than a week away and there’s so much to do and so little time! One of my daughters suggested that I not bake cap and diploma cookies but, hon, how could I throw a graduation party and ignore those cookie cutters?! They were  calling my name!

These sugar cookies can be baked ahead of time, frozen, then defrosted and decorated or the decorated cookies can be frozen. Tip: Store decorated cookies, with wax paper in between the layers, in a airtight container.

Happy baking, hon!

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe 

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I used margarine to make recipe non-dairy)

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 egg

2-3 teaspoons flavoring such as vanilla or almond

2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.
  3. Crack egg into a separate bowl and add flavoring. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until egg is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, then add the dry mixture, little by little, to the butter/sugar mixture. (Tip-a paddle attachment works well. Dough will by sticky.)
  5. If the dough is too sticky, refrigerate until it stiffens.
  6. Roll out on parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thick, using flour for dusting as necessary. Cut and bake for 7 – 8 minutes.

Yield: 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies. The recipe doubled will yield approximately 4 -5 dozen.

Notes:  Baking times are approximate so watch the cookies. If they are browning, they’ve been in a little too long.

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder

6 Tablespoons warm water

Beat about 4 minutes by hand. Thin icing, if needed with extra tablespoons of warm water.

Add color in small amounts. (Tip–it’s easier to darken a color than lighten it.)

Related posts: DIY Graduation Party (Party Prep Step-by-Step)American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies, Melted Snowman Cookies, Cookie Crazy, DIY Party Favors, Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies

DIY Graduation Party, Words of Wisdom

Proud of our grads!
Proud of our grads!

Miles of milestones.

Our Words of Wisdom Box was inspired by Advice Boxes on Pinterest. After the graduation party, one of my daughters Tweeted, “”Last night my backyard was basically a Pinterest board.” What can I say? I love a party and I love a theme. If I can combine both, even better!

Words of Wisdom Box

Supplies:

shoebox, wrapping paper, Exacto knife, index cards, scissors, pens, sign, frame, basket or other vessel

Instructions:

  1. Wrap a shoebox in wrapping paper.
  2. Cut index cards in half.
  3. Cut a slit in top of shoebox long enough to slip index cards through.
  4. Make a Words of Wisdom sign. (“Give advice to our new graduates.”)
  5. Set up box, pens, index cards and sign.
  6. Invite guests to be creative.
Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.
Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.

Words to live by.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

“Remember there are a thousand things you haven’t done yet.”

“Believe in yourself. Dream. Try. Do Good.
“Stay true to who you are.”

“Be confident. You are both great. (No tattoos!)”

“Always say yes to opportunities.”

“Never give up!”

“Find something to be thankful for every day.”

“Be a better student. Nevermind, you already graduated!”

 

Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guest know where to drop their word of wisdom.
Wrap a shoebox, cut a slit in the top, provide paper and pens, and add a sign so guests know where to drop their words of wisdom.

DIY Graduation Party, S’mores Station

Dessert Table.
Dessert Table.

What’s a party without dessert?

Set up a Make-Your-Own-S’mores station. Surround mini burners with marshmallows and graham crackers lined with chocolate.

Do you toast your marshmallow until its lightly-browned or burnt-to-a-crisp? These are important decisions!

One side of the S'mores station.
The graham cracker and chocolate side of the S’mores station.
The marshmallow side of the S'mores station.
The marshmallow side of the S’mores station.
S'more Cupcakes made by The Jersey Smore.
S’more Cupcakes made by The Jersey S’more. These are no ordinary cupcakes. Under the chocolate coating is a s’more. Yum!

Related Posts:

DIY Graduation Party, Step-by-Step Prep

DIY Graduation Party, Cookie Favors

DIY Graduation Party, Mason Jar Centerpieces

DIY Graduation Party, Outdoor Decor

DIY Graduation Party, Selfie Station

Sources: In Thyme Catered Events and The Jersey S’more Company

DIY Graduation Party, Selfie Station

The church bells rang as I took this picture!
Church bells rang in celebration!

Polaroid-Inspired Pics

A Selfie Station is a fun idea for any celebration. Set it up and say, “Cheese!”

Selfie Station How To

  1. Gather supplies: hot glue gun, large piece of foam board or tag board, Exacto knife, photo props (At Michael’s, we found a kit with die-cut graduation props), container to stand props in, large sheet or towel, pushpins, markers.
  2. Assemble props by hot-gluing props to dowels. Stand in a container.
  3. Cut a “window” out of the foam board. Decide if your giant photo frame will be landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) and, using Exacto knife, cut out a large “window” in the middle. Leave a larger band of foam board along the bottom.
  4. Personalize the bottom of your giant photo frame.
  5. Set up a backdrop. Hang a sheet or towel as a backdrop. Keep the sides in place with push pins. (Tip. I tapped each pin with a small hammer, making the backdrop extra secure.)
  6.  Hand write or print out a Selfie Station sign. Place the sign along with props next to the backdrop.
Hot-glue dowels to back of die-cut props.
Hot glue dowels to back of die-cut props.
Fun photo props.
Fun photo props.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut out middle of foam or tag board, leaving a larger space at the bottom for personalization.
Cut a “window” out of the foam board, leaving a large space at the bottom for personalization.
Using pushpins, secure asheet or towel as a backdrop. Set up photo area.
Use pushpins to secure a sheet or towel to the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let guests know where the Photo Booth is with a sign.
Set up the Selfie Station by the backdrop, including props and a sign.
Me and my Muhlenberg grad.
Me and my Muhlenberg grad.
My college girlfriends' daughters and mine.
My college girlfriends’ daughters and my Plus One. How fun!

 Related Posts on a DIY Graduation Party: 

Party Prep, Step-by-StepCookie Favors, Mason Jar Centerpieces, Outdoor Decor

DIY Graduation Party, Outdoor Decor

Drinks table.
Set up one table for drinks.

Backyard BBQ

It was hot and humid, but it didn’t rain!

I recently posted about Party Prep, and how to create your own Mason Jar Centerpieces and Graduation Hat and Diploma Cookie Favors. If your (graduation, Father’s Day or other milestone) party is approaching, here are some tips and pics on setting up your celebration.

Black and white tablecloths with check napkins said "BBQ, graduation and dressy casual."
Pick colors that set the mood. Black and white tablecloths with check napkins say “BBQ, graduation and dressy casual.”
An old barn crate turned on its side set off the wine.
Turn a crate on its side and add burlap to set off wine bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tie a banner for a banner year. We downloaded this banner from Lil Sprout (Greetings), printed it on card stock, cut it out and assembled it.
Tie a banner for a banner year. We downloaded this banner from Lil Sprout (Greetings), printed it on card stock, cut it out and assembled it.
String party lights across wooden stakes delineating the celebration space.
String party lights across wooden stakes delineating the celebration space.
Party lights were also strung along a stone wall.
Set up Tiki torches to keep mosquitoes away and also provide light.
Add tea lights and citronella candles to the tables. The caterer used wooden blocks to raise small flower arrangements.
Add tea lights and citronella candles to the tables. The caterer used wooden blocks to raise small flower arrangements.

Shout out to In Thyme Catered Events who provided the food and great set-up and service.

Happy party planning, hon!

DIY Graduation Party, Mason Jar Centerpieces

Mason jar centerpieces.
Mason jar centerpieces.

I admit it. I love mason jars!

I’ve decorated mason jars in the past and will use them again in the future. I collected centerpiece ideas on Pinterest, then Grad #1 and I put ours together.

Graduation Party Mason Jar Centerpieces How-To

  1. Figure out how many mason to use, and use your own or purchase jars at a craft store.
  2. Measure diameter of jars to figure out how much burlap, or other trim, will be needed. I decided to use a wide burlap ribbon on a tall mason jar to balance the size of the pennants.
  3. Design pennants and print out on card stock. My in-house graphic design guy, aka Hubby, used Adobe Illustrator. There are also sites that offer free, downloadable graduation designs. We found a variety of graduation designs on the site Lil Sprout (Greetings).Cut out pennants.
  4. Hot-glue dowels to back of pennants. Trim pennants to desired height with garden clippers.
  5. Decide on additional decorations. Red Gerber Daisies were a must for our centerpieces, and we added foam graduation sticker-decorated dowels. (Tip: I ran out of dowels but created new ones by hot-gluing craft sticks together. Call me resourceful!)
  6. Weight the mason jars and anchor the pennants with glass marbles. (Tip: I added a small amount of water to each jar so the Gerber Daisies wouldn’t wilt.)
  7. Set tables and enjoy!
Pennants printed on card stock and dowels.
Pennants printed on card stock and dowels.
Decide on which width ribbon works on what size jar.
Choose ribbon based on size of jars.
Measure and cut burlap ribbon.
Measure and cut burlap ribbon.

 

Wrap burlap ribbon around jar and hot glue ends together.
Wrap burlap ribbon around jar and hot glue ends together.

DIY Graduation Party, Cookie Favors

Fun favors!
Favors ready to hand out. I tied (so punny!) the black and white check theme to the cookie colors and ribbon.
Graduation Hats.
Graduation Hats.
Diplomas.
Diplomas.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_9916

IMG_9918

Fun Favors! 

Throwing a party? You might think favors would be last on the list of things to take care of, but if you plan on handing out cookies, make them in advance. They’re a lot of work, but worth it. Trust me!

Sugar cookies can be baked ahead of time and frozen, then defrosted and decorated OR the finished cookies can be frozen. Either way, set aside time if you are going to bag and wrap them.

Shout out to Michele Schonhorn, who showed me how to make the icing smoother and outline the design. Her sugar cookie recipe is slightly different than mine so I’m listing it here. Shout out also to my assistant baker, none other than Graduate #1.

Happy baking, hon!

Basic Sugar Cookie Recipe 

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (I used margarine to make recipe non-dairy)

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 egg

2-3 teaspoons flavoring such as vanilla or almond

2 1/2 – 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cream together softened butter and confectioner’s sugar.
  3. Crack egg into a separate bowl and add flavoring. Add to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until egg is thoroughly incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt, then add the dry mixture, little by little, to the butter/sugar mixture. (Tip-a paddle attachment works well. Dough will by sticky.)
  5. Roll out on parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thick, using flour for dusting as necessary. Cut and bake for 7 – 8 minutes.

Yield: 2 – 2 1/2 dozen cookies. The recipe doubled will yield approximately 4 -5 dozen.

Notes:  The dough DOES not need to be refrigerated, but it does need to rest a little after mixing. It will firm up a bit after a minute or two. Baking times are approximate so watch the cookies. If they are browning, they’ve been in a little too long.

Royal Icing Recipe

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar

3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder

6 Tablespoons warm water

Beat about 4 minutes by hand. Thin icing, if needed with extra tablespoons of warm water.

Add color in small amounts. (Tip–it’s easier to darken a color than lighten it.)

Related posts: DIY Graduation Party (Party Prep Step-by-Step)American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies, Melted Snowman Cookies, Cookie Crazy, DIY Party Favors, Character Driven Gingerbread Cookies

DIY Graduation Party, Step-by-Step Prep

The church bells rang as I took this picture!
Church bells rang in celebration!
Handsome son and Hubby.
Handsome in dress blues!

Woohoo! Yay! Congrats! 

Two of my kids and their friends celebrated graduating at a backyard barbecue. Hon, you know how I love a theme? What was I to do when their school colors clashed? I wanted to throw a dinner party with a theme and/or colors that said “graduation, bbq, and dressy casual.” When I stopped at a party rental store for inspiration, black and white check linens caught my eye. Using burlap as an accent, I was off and running!

This will be a week of How-To’s, but first here’s what the overall Party Plan looked like.

Menu: sliders, hot dogs, chicken, cole slaw, baked beans, salad, french fry bar (french fries with a variety of dipping sauces), s’mores, cookies, fruit salad, candy bar

Linens: alternating black and white tablecloths, black and white check napkins

Tables and Chairs: this goes hand-in-hand with linens, how many and what size tables being used determines how many and what sized tablecloths are needed, we supplemented our own tables and chairs with rentals

Centerpieces: mason jars trimmed in burlap, school pennants, red Gerber Daisies

Game, Activities: Polaroid-inspired Selfie Station, Words-of-Wisdom box

Favors: graduation hat and diploma cookies

Decorations: banner,Tiki torches, party lights, balloons

Invitations: Evites (I usually prefer paper invitations, but it was much easier to collect, send out and track a large amount of graduates’ email addresses rather than street addresses, especially since most students were in transit between school and home.)

Great advice for graduates (and me)!
Great advice for graduates (and me)!