Nothing says Birthday like a banner! Whether it’s handmade or store bought, a colorful swag of letters just sets the mood! The amazing thing about birthday banners is that they are relatively easy to make, and can be made from a variety of materials that fit everyone’s talents or budget. Admittedly, I’m not much of a seamstress, but I once made super cute swags out of tie dyed bandanas and ribbon. I simply trimmed the bandanas to make sure they wouldn’t fray, and then sewed the triangles between two pieces of ribbon. The effect was exactly what we needed for our sixties inspired birthday...it gave a touch of color and height to the party space without overpowering the room.
My birthday banner made from bandanas
For me, paper is the perfect banner material - it’s flexible, it’s colorful, it’s easy to cut - plus it can be recycled once the party is over.
Basically there are 3 parts to any banner:
1. The hanger - this can be ribbon, string, twine, yarn, fishing line - anything that is long enough to span the distance of your letters, and strong enough to take the tension of hanging between two tied off points (believe it or not, a paper streamer can work...as long as it is out of the reach of grasping hands that might try and pull it down).
2. The flag - this too can be pretty much anything - paper, cardstock, fabric, felt, even clothing (yes...tiny little onesies or diapers with letters printed on them, strung on a clothesline, make an adorable first birthday, or baby shower banner).
3. The letters - I mke my letters one of two ways - either printing them as stickers and placing them directly onto the flag or cutting them out of fabric or fancy papers and adhering it to the flag with glue.
A red white and blue themed birthday banner
Here is how I made a banner for a “recycled” themed party.
I decided to use brown paper lunch sacks as my flags.
My "recycled" birthday banner materials
1. Cut or collect your flag pieces, you will need one for each letter.
2. I love to use full sheet labels when making my letters. I figure out the size I need, then using my computer, fit as many as I can onto a single page. If working with labels I print the letters as is. If I am using fancy paper I “reflect” the letters in my computer art program so they appear "mirrored" when printed. That way I can place the reversed letter on the backside of my fancy paper, cut it out, and the letter will be correct for the banner.
3. Once all the letters are cut out I either place the letters directly onto the backer (if I’m using stickers) or glue the fancy letter with a glue stick.
4. With a hole punch, place two holes in the top corners of your flags.
5. Lay all your letters out on the floor, leaving a bit of space between each letter (I find the distance varies given the size of your flags - the larger the flag, the more space you’ll want). Measure out your ribbon. You want the ribbon to be long enough to accommodate all the letters, the space in between the letters, and at least 4 feet on either side to allow you to shift the letters once they are hanging.
6. Starting at one end begin stringing your letters onto the ribbon in order. To do this push the ribbon up through the first corner hole, pull across the the second hole, thread the ribbon down through the second hole. Repeat this for every letter. I find that it is easiest to do this with the letters all laid out in order, side by side, so that I don’t end up misspelling or reversing letters.
7. Hang your banner and then adjust the letters by gently sliding them in one direction or another.
As I mentioned above, I’m not a great seamstress...but if you are a fan of fabric, you can use felt and the above technique to achieve the same effect (just use white or hot glue instead of glue stick).
My completed banner
I hope this inspires you to create your very own banners...the only limitation is your own imagination! Instead of paper, try balloons, pillowcases, kites, or beach towels. And remember, you don’t have to have a fancy computer to make your letters, you can hand write them and create the same wonderful effect. (But just in case, I have included some letter prointing templates for you below, should you wish to use them). What I truly love about banners is that it is a project in which everyone can get involved - so grab your family and get going! It’s a great way to “hang out” together!