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How to Upcycle Graduation Decorations for a Unique Celebration

Check out this easy idea to reuse and repurpose old party decor! Upcycle graduation decorations to save money and still create a magical and memorable day for your celebration.

It’s graduation season and a time to celebrate!

If you have a child graduating this year you know how expensive senior year has been.

Trips, yearbooks, cap and gown, senior pictures and that’s before the actual graduation.

As moms, we always want to recognize our children’s accomplishments and don’t want to let a milestone like high school graduation go by without a fabulous celebration.

But graduation parties can be expensive, are we right?

No worries though…we’ve got your back.

We have some amazing ideas to help you throw the best party for your graduate without breaking the bank.

Like this customizable burlap banner.

Or this banner to display photos.

You can even use pallets for an inexpensive but large party photo display.

We’ve made simple centerpieces using photos and mason jars.

And these pretty centerpieces with painted cans, ribbons, and photos.

One of our favorite simple graduation decorations is these paper mache numbers and DIY graduation year.

Wait until you see how I repurposed those paper mache numbers to create a new unique style.

How to Upcycle Old Graduation Decorations

blue and yellow numbers decorated with scapbook paper

Since all of my kids attended the same high school I was able to reuse some of the same painted numbers from Jake’s party (in 2016) for Gavin’s.

I just had to buy another “2” and “0” because Gavin graduated in 2020.

A bit of spray paint in royal blue was all I did to get a super easy and fun decoration for their parties.

When Anne’s daughters graduated in 2021 she decorated paper mache numbers to coordinate with the colors of their school.

They were so much prettier than the simple blue numbers I had made for my boys.

Where to Find Graduation Decorations to Repurpose

stack of numbers painted blue and yellow on table

I wanted to make graduation year decorations for my daughter Emma’s party but in a different style than the ones I made previously.

You can reuse graduation decorations from your older child to their siblings like I did for my boys.

Or maybe the graduate has cousins or friends that have decor that can be used again.

Anne no longer needed the paper mache numbers she decorated for her girls so she gave them to me to use for Emma’s celebration.

This saved me some money from having to buy new numbers.

If you don’t have a friend to donate their old graduation decor to you then check out local newspaper ads or Facebook marketplace.

What Supplies Are Needed to Reuse Party Decor

supplies to make jute wrapped numbers for graduation party

You only need three items to make these easy rustic neutral graduation decorations

How to Decorate Paper Mache Numbers or Letters

I used jute twine to make Emma’s graduation year numbers however you can use different products to cover old numbers to match your party theme.

Yarn would is a great option to upcycle numbers and letters because it’s available in a wide variety of colors and styles to coordinate with your other decorations.

Ribbon would be another way to reuse paper mache numbers but make it your own style.

It’s easy to make these rustic graduation decorations if you follow these three steps:

Step 1: Add Glue to Corner of Number

adding glue with glue gun to edge of number

The first step is to add a drop of glue using your hot glue gun to the paper mache number.

You’ll want to start at either end of the number so that you can wrap the twine around as you go.

Step 2: Attach Jute Twine to Number

wrapping jute twine around painted number

Next, wrap the twine around the paper mache number adding glue as you go.

The twine was thick enough that I didn’t feel the need to paint the numbers before starting to wrap them.

But if you’re using a thinner product you may want to paint your numbers if they don’t match so that the color doesn’t show through.

Step 3: Wrap Twine Around Number

AnnMarie decorating paper mache number with twine for graduation decor

Be sure to keep the jute pieces tight together so that you can’t see the color of the reused numbers in between the twine.

You may be able to use a different type of adhesive but I think hot glue works the best to keep everything secure.

burned thumb from hot glue while making grad numbers

S2M Tip: Be careful when using a hot glue gun because that glue is no joke…it’s super hot!

Yup, I totally burned myself doing this craft project.


How to Deal with Corners of Graduation Numbers or Letters

wrapping string in corner of paper number

The corners on the number “2” were a little tricky and I wound up having to overlap the twine in that spot.

Since the corner had more than one layer of twine I decided to go back over the other parts of the number so that it all looked uniform.

Having a double layer of jute allowed me to work a little faster as I didn’t have to be as careful making sure the strings were close together.

Going back over the initially wrapped sections allowed everything to be covered completely.

Neutral Rustic Upcycled Graduation Decorations

completed repurposed number for graduation party decorating

That’s it!

Your DIY twine numbers are now complete.

You can use them to decorate for a party, a special occasion, or just to add a touch of whimsy to your home.

These jute twine numbers can be used in many different ways:

  • Birthday Party (birth year or current age)
  • Anniversary Celebration (date or year of anniversary)
  • Wedding or Bridal Shower (wedding date)
  • Home Decor (house number, number of children, number of family members, lucky number)

The possibilities are endless!

So get creative and have fun with it.

Where to Style Graduation Year Numbers for Your Celebration

jute twine graduation year numbers on fireplace mantle with other party decor for graduation

We decorated our fireplace mantel for Emma’s graduation party at home.

The DIY twine numbers in Emma’s graduation year added the perfect personal touch to the other decor items.

The jute “2022” numbers coordinated with her neutral rustic boho party theme.

And the upcycled grad year numbers wrapped in twine matched the burlap banner hung from the mantel.

I really love how these DIY twine numbers turned out.

Reusing decorations from previous graduation parties gave me the opportunity to create something unique while saving money.

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collage of product images need to make graduation decorations

Sources: paper mache numbers | paper mache letters | jute twine | hot glue gun

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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