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How to Make a Photo Banner | Graduation Party Decoration Idea

Get the steps to create a photo banner to decorate for your next celebration. Photo banners are perfect for milestone birthdays, graduations, retirements, anniversaries, or showers.

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 nearly 5,000 photos per year (and those are just the good ones that I kept) since becoming a mom!

And guess what?

All those photos make the perfect decoration for a special party!

This idea would be fantastic for a milestone birthday party, an anniversary party, a retirement party, and of course, a high school graduation party!

I shared more inexpensive graduation party ideas from his party and AnnMarie has another fun banner idea too.

This photo banner was a great way to decorate for my son’s graduation party.

Four banners made out of photos mounted on cardstock squares hanging above a half wall dividing a kitchen and family room to decorate for a graduation party.

Preparing for his party was a little hard for me.

AnnMarie threw herself into planning special graduation gifts to cope with this milestone.

She even came up with a ton of inspirational quotes that are perfect for a sign or graduation card!


I stuck my head in the sand to pretend it wasn’t gonna actually happen.

Finally, I had to come to grips that his graduation and the party were going to happen whether I was ready or not, and I found creating this photo banner helped.

Fortunately, it was easy to put together because I didn’t leave myself much time to do it!

If space is a factor at your party, or you’re having your party outside, you’ll love this easy photo display idea.

Decide Which Photos You Want To Use

I limited myself to photos taken from his first day of kindergarten up until baccalaureate in his cap and gown.

It was fun to include our annual first day of school photos!

I figured it was a graduation party, so it made sense to stick to his school years.

Setting parameters for the scope of your project (geez, my old project manager lingo just popped out there!) can really make it easier.

I ended up with both vertical and horizontal pictures, so I decided to crop them into squares to make them uniform.

To make the project as cost-effective as possible I decided to use 12×12 cardstock to mat the photos. Each sheet would make nine 4×4 squares.

Measure the Space

Measure the area where you’ll be hanging your photo banner.

I chose the opening between my kitchen and family room.

The space to hang the photo banner is 10-feet (120 inches) wide and 5.5-feet high.

I figured I’d put a 1-inch space between the photos.

So 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.

And then I eyeballed it and decided that four rows of banners would look best.

I also 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.

SO! Four rows of 24 photo mats meant I’d need about 200 photos.

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Supplies you’ll need:

Blue and gold 12x12 cardstock with packages of white and navy blue miniature clothespins, a paper trimmer, and a roll of double stick adhesive
Navy blue, gold, and white ribbon in a pile next to 8 large command hooks

I chose to use his high school’s colors as the color scheme for decorating for the party.

At first, I thought I’d use thick twine to hang the photos, but the ribbon was 50% off at Hobby Lobby so that’s what I used!

To make the same style of the banner I made, you’ll need:

Click any image below to shop

I went through my computer and chose approximately 16 photos per year for grades K-12 and ordered my prints.

I made sure to include at least one photo of him with each of the guests invited to his party.

And 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.

Assembling your photo 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 it would be easy to hang the photos later.

Photograph of a high school senior boy wearing a bus name hanger around his neck from his first day of kindergarten

(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 the first day of his senior year.)

The night before you want to hang your photos, attach the command hooks to the wall.

It’s important to give the adhesive time to cure before adding the ribbon and photos.

Command hook hanging on a wall and holding a ribbon with a square photo clipped on with a small clothespin for a photo banner

I put the hooks on the very edge of the opening.

A sheet of paper helped me 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 just 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 who like to eat and then puke up ribbon so I kept the tails short.

Four rows of ribbons hanging above a half wall that divides a kitchen and family room to hang a photo banner

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 our guests spent some time looking at the photos.

Table of appetizers, baseball-themed snacks, and photo banner

Even my son commented on how much he liked it and that his friends all did too.

My daughters started talking about when I do one for their graduation!

They’re graduating from high school in 2021 so I’m a little more prepared this time around.

I’m working on a photo book like this one and I’ve made some pretty numbers to use at their party.

This photo banner would be a great way to decorate for so many other types of parties.

Think how fun it would be for an anniversary, retirement, or milestone birthday celebration.

Creating a Memorable Photo Gift

After the party was over, I took down the photos.

I may have left them up for a few weeks because it made me so happy to see all those memories…

I ordered several packages of 8×8 photo pocket sleeves and got an empty 8×8 scrapbook album.

The 8×8 divided photo pocket sleeves aren’t available anymore, but you can use these 12×12 pocket sleeves and a 12×12 album instead.

Stack of 120 photos mounted on navy blue and gold cardstock from a photo banner graduation party decoration

It was so easy to slip the photos into these pockets!

Because I’d mounted a photo on both the front and back of each square of cardstock, it was a simple matter of slipping one square into each pocket.

Scrapbook with pages that hold photos from a photo banner to give as a gift

I gave my son the completed album with all the photos before he left to go to college.

Red 8x8 scrapbook sitting in front of a graduation cap, varsity letter, and awards from high school

I love that this party decoration easily becomes a sentimental gift as well.

Let me know if you have any questions about making a banner like this for your next party!

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can contact me or leave a comment below.

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