Giant Photo Strip Party Decorations
We are currently experiencing a tsunami of ‘landmark’ birthdays. An occasional 40th. Lots of 50ths, and even recently a 60th. These giant photo strip party decorations are a great way to celebrate the birthday girl or boy through the ages. Guests love to see the changes to fashion, hairlines and waistlines! They are a really cost effective way to add decorations – I have made quite a few of these for friends in the last 6 months…with quite a few more on the horizon. I generally keep the finished product a surprise from the birthday girl. I love choosing the best photos, and then seeing the birthday (and guests) seeing them for the first time at the party.
- Selection of photos
- Strips of canvas, thick card or heavy fabric
- Branch strips
- Double sided tape or glue
- Embroidery thread
- Photo shop or other photo editing software
- Printer and photo paper
- Optional foliage like sprigs of eucalyptus
First Source and prepare your photos.
One of the most important things you need for this is a range of photos form ‘through the ages’ Ideally get hold of wide selection including baby, pictures with young siblings, primary school, & teen years. The more photos you can get the better. And it goes without saying, as high resolution as possible.
Once you have sourced your photos – transfer them all to digital format. Hard copy photos can be uploaded to your computer via a scanner, but if you haven’t got access to a scanner, at a pinch use a camera or smartphone. The nature of these decorations is vintage photo / low fi, which makes them fairly forgiving with grainy images.
Using photo editing software, crop all images to the same image size. I print out on A4 photo paper, so my images are 20cm square, which allows for a small white border. Change all images to black and white before printing.
Mounting the photos
To mount the photos for display, cut lengths of canvas, and sew a pouch at each end to insert a branch for hanging. For each ‘party’, I make around 5 of these. They display 4 pictures per hanging, so 20 in total. These can be any size that suits your venue or party – I cut each canvas to 120cm tall and 30cm wide. This allows for a 5cm fold over at each end, that can be sewn (or glued) in place to create a pouch.
Use glue or double sided tape to secure the pictures on the canvas. Allow an approximate border of 5cm around each picture, with additional border at top and bottom.
The exact border you chose doesn’t matter – but it does matter that all the photos are lined up the same. Measure out and mark in pencil before you stick the first one. Then either repeat the measure and stick, or line up the canvases and stick from there. Try and get as many photos from different eras. Ideally start with baby photos, toddler, primary school secondary school, college, graduation, wedding etc. Some people aren’t great at keeping photos. It will depend upon what you can get hold of. I look for fun photos, but never something that will embarass the birthday girl.
Cut 2 pieces of branch per canvas – slightly wider than the canvas hanging, and add a hanging string using pretty embroidery thread.
The next stage is to hang the pictures. ‘3m’ brand removable hanging strips are great for this. Just attach to the wall or window, and secure a sprig of eucalyptus or ivy to the twigs with more embroidery thread.
And you are ready to party. ……..That is unless you are in a venue where you aren’t allowed to hang anything on the wall……..and it’s a destination venue.
For this party, I had to find a solution that would enable transport to the venue in our taxi. And set up no more than an hour beforehand. To frther complicate things, I needed it to be a solution that I didn’t mind leaving behind, but that looked pretty in the beautiful private dining room too.
I love a challenge…..
Willow Tripod Display
- 7m Willow twigs 9-12 per tripod
- Paperclip or twist of metal
Luckily I had some willow twigs in the basement from an old Christmas display – but these are available fairly cheaply online, or if you have access to woods, you could possibly source your own.
First, group together 3-4 twigs per leg of each tripod. The take three of these piles, and fashion in to a tripod with two legs in front and one behind. Tie this structure about 1 ft from the top with elastic. (This means you can easily collapse the tripods for storage and transport).
Finally, add a funky paperclip (or little twist of metal to make a hook).
Then simply unfold the tripods, hang the canvases and attach the eucalyptus. For additional stability, I tied the bottom piece of the twig from the canvas to the front leg of the tripod. Including laying out flowers on the table, adding place settings and setting up the tripods. The whole thing took 45 minutes to set up, including laying place cards and flowers on the table.
Alternative Giant Pictures (without using the canvas)
One of the earlier iterations of this decoration that I did was to have the pictures printed on giant posters. An A0 sized print can yield 5 hangings for around £12. The downside if this is that pictures are a bit smaller, and they arent as adaptable to sizing.
Using photo editing software, create an A0 sized document, and add the 20 pictures that you selected above into one document. Allow a 5cm margin at the top to fold over, and margins for the white border around the pictures. I use a local print shop that prints out budget posters (and often has a sale).
Then simply trim, fold and tape the top. If you are lucky you will have a furry little friend to help you.
Repeat as for the canvas prints in attaching a branch, threat and foliage.
60th Birthday Lunch: Private house party
The photos above and below are from 5 different parties. All different venues. In each case, I’ve adapted / modified the size and shape to suit the display space.
These are a very personalised way to celebrate a celebration birthday. They would also be brilliant for other celebratory events including graduation, anniversary or retirement. They are easy to make, and simple enough to fit any decor without overshadowing it.