I’ve always loved decorating with photos! Like AnnMarie, I would much rather see photos of people I love hanging on my walls than random artwork. When my oldest was born in 1999 I became a complete shutterbug! I’ve taken thousands of photos of him over the past 18-1/2 years. That’s not an exaggeration. I have approximately 5,000 photos per year (and those are just the good ones that I kept) since becoming a mom.
I used to be a paper scrapbooker and have so many albums filled with photos of my favorite people! Now I do most of my scrapbooking digitally using a combination of photoshop, the Project Life app, and Blurb. I’ll talk more about that another time. Today is about how I used photos to create a special decoration for my son’s graduation party.
Preparing for the party was a little hard for me emotionally. Not gonna lie. But decorating with photos with this project helped make it much more enjoyable. And meaningful. And yes, a little more bittersweet.
Define your Project
I limited myself to photos taken from his first day of kindergarten up until baccalaureate in his cap and gown. Setting parameters for the scope of your project can really make it easier to complete! I had both vertical and horizontal pictures so I decided to crop them into squares to make them uniform. I knew that I wanted to use 12×12 cardstock to mat my photos. To make the project as cost-effective as possible I planned to cut each sheet of cardstock into nine 4×4 squares.
Next, measure the area where you’ll be hanging your banners. I chose the opening between my kitchen and family room. My opening was 10-feet (120 inches) wide. I figured I’d put a 1-inch space between photos. I divided 120 by 5 (4 inches for the matted photo plus a 1-inch space) which meant I’d need about 24 photo mats for each row.
Next I looked at the height of the opening. I figured out where I wanted to start the top string and then measured 11 inches down from that point. [Where did I get 11 inches from you ask? Well, I didn’t have my tape measure handy at that point because I forgot to measure the height of the opening when I had it out… LOL But I did have a piece of paper handy. And paper is 11 inches long. So. Yeah. My rows were spaced 11 inches apart!] I was able to fit 4 rows of photos in the opening.
SO! Four rows of 24 photo mats meant I’d need about 200 photos. I wanted to put a photo on both the front and the back of each piece of cardstock. After all, who knows whether it would be raining or too hot the day of the party? I wanted both sides of the banner to be decorated if people were going to be hanging out in the family room.
Supplies you’ll need:
I decided that I wanted to use his high school’s colors as the color scheme for decorating for the party. At first I thought I’d like to use thick twine to hang the photos but ribbon was on sale half-off at Hobby Lobby so that’s what I used! I love the look of the little clothespins and they were also half-off the day I went shopping. Obviously this was meant to be!
- 12 sheets of cardstock (6 of each color)
- 4 packages of clothespins
- 4 rolls of ribbon
- 1 package of 8 command hooks that could hold 1-lb each
I went through my computer and chose approximately 16 photos per year for grades K-12 and ordered my prints.
Assembling your banner:
First, cut your cardstock into 4×4 squares. Next, crop your photos to 3.5×3.5 squares. Adhere a photo to the center on the front and back of each square. I alternated navy and gold cardstock while attaching the photos so that it would be easy to hang the photos from one stack later.
(This picture always makes me laugh! This was the little bus that he had to wear around his neck on his first day of kindergarten. He looked so nervous in his kindergarten picture! We attempted to re-create that picture on his first day of his senior year.)
The night before you want to hang your photos, attach your command hooks to the wall. You will want to give the adhesive time to cure before adding the ribbon and the photos.
I forgot to take a picture of just the hooks before I added the ribbon and photos. But you can see I put the hooks on the very edge of the opening. I used a sheet of paper to space them from the bottom of one hook to the top of the next hook.
When you’re ready to assemble your display, tie a knot to make a loop at one end of your ribbon. Hang it on one of the hooks. Extend the ribbon to the corresponding hook and allow a little bit of slack. Tie another knot with a loop and trim your ribbon. It would be pretty to leave longer tails on the loops to hang down, but I have cats so I kept my tails short.
After you’ve hung your ribbons, get your stack of photos and your clothespins. I wanted some color contrast so I used white clothespins on pictures with a navy mat and navy clothespins on pictures with a gold mat.
Decorating with Photos was a Huge Hit
The final display turned out to be the most popular area of the party. All of the guests spent time looking at all the photos and seeing how much he had changed. I made sure to include at least one photo of him with each of the invited guests. He’s played on lots of different baseball teams so I also chose at least one picture of him in each of the different uniforms.
My son commented how much he liked the display and that his friends all did too. And my daughters are already talking about when I do one for their graduation in three years! This would be a great way to decorate for an anniversary party or a milestone birthday celebration.
My plan is to take the final stack of photos and put them in these photo pocket sleeves from Becky Higgins to create a small photo album which I will gift to my son before he leaves for college. I love that this decorating with photos project will end up becoming a sentimental gift as well!