As I’m sure you can imagine I was just a little bit excited when it came to planning Mister L’s 1st Birthday party. Ever since he was a babe in my belly I had all these fabulous ideas and of course in no way was Pinterest helpful here! The problem ended up being too many ideas so I really had to try and narrow what I wanted to do down, who was I going to invite and most importantly what the hell was I going to buy him?
The one thing that I knew I wanted to do from day dot though was make him a first birthday board. Naturally Pinterest was to blame here again! God I love that website! I think birthday boards can be such a cute little addition to a party or cake smash but more importantly be something special for me to have as he gets older. This was really what I was looking for, something that would be nice enough for me to maybe frame and put up in his play room in the new house. Something to remind me of what a little character he is and all his little quirks, as no doubt they’ll change like the seasons.
All you have to do is search for birthday boards and you’ll find a plethora of different styles and types out there and there really are some amazing ones, you can even hire someone to make one for you out of wood! But I had a very specific chalkboard look in mind so I set about trying my hand at one, naturally I thought why not share it all with you and give you some pointers on just how to go about making one for yourself… well OK maybe for your child… maybe.
So here is my tutorial on a DIY Birthday Board.
First Birthday Milestone Board
What you’ll need:
⇒A set of good quality metallic markers (I used Crayola ones in a set of 8. But definitely get a good brand as some of the cheaper brands won’t show any difference in colour once on paper.)
⇒Pencil & Eraser
⇒Black card or board (in whatever size you want. I went big!)
Now don’t be put off by this! You don’t need to be an incredible artist or even mildly crafty to make this look good! I mean look at mine, I’m not fantastic free hand but I still think this looks pretty cool. The greatest thing is if you really are rubbish and your handwriting looks like chicken scratch then you can cheat and use a computer (might take a while though) and print out everything and copy it across, I’ll get more into that below.
So here we go!
- Lay your board out somewhere flat with good lighting, you’ll need the lighting in particular so you can pick up where you’ve drawn the pencil outlines without needing to press too hard. Now I suggest grabbing a piece of paper and doing a quick sketch of what you had in mind. You can really personalize these boards with whatever info you like! I chose:
– Weight, Height and Teeth
– Favourite TV Shows
– Favourite Foods
– Favourite Books
– Favourite Toys
– Words he can speak
– Things he loves to do
But don’t think you’re limited or need to do these! Personalize it to the things you want to remember and that your child really loves. I have a friend who’s little boy speaks 3 languages so I’d pop that on there! Or why not list what things he can sign if you’re teaching him that? The options are limitless. So go ahead and whip up a quick outline of the shape you’d like and how you want to lay it out. Also try to keep in mind how much you want to write in each section as this will help you decide how much space you’ll need later.
- Now comes the tricky part, deciding what font you’d like your child’s name to be across the top. This section might take a few hit and misses so allow yourself some time to mess around with it. (Though really I would actually allow yourself a good month to whip this whole thing up, that way you’re not having to rush and end up ruining your layout. I say a month only because I did a little bit at a time and often only did it while Mister L was napping. )
To do the name across the top I recommend using a computer with a printer. Select a font in a word document and choose a size that will comfortably fit the name across the top of your board. It will take a few times to figure out what size you’ll need and you’ll probably print a few before you get it right! I used the font ‘Elephant’ in size 250 in Microsoft Word. Once you have the sizing right go ahead and print this out, you may need to use 2 sheets of paper.
- Now trim your paper down so that it will sit the name exactly where you want it and tape the two pieces of paper together so you’ll have a cohesive name. Try not to bunch or fold any paper up underneath as it will make copying the name onto your board a touch more difficult. Now stick the name lightly to the board with tape and using a dull pencil trace over the letters of your name, pushing into the board. You want to push only hard enough to leave an easily seen indent in the board and not push all the way through.
- Now pop your paper off and using your choice of colours trace over your indents. This will give you a nice clean line and a really professional looking name. You can colour or highlight your name in any way you like! I chose to do an outline of silver and then a rim around the inside in blue, then lightly filled in each letter. This gave it a very chalkboardy feel. I really do recommend going over some pieces twice too, anything you want to stand out and look really metallic will need a second coat, I used a second coat on almost the whole board for a strong look.
- You can then add a banner under the name with the birthday of choice. This I drew free hand, as I’m sure you can tell! But if you bring up an image of a banner you like on google you can easily follow it bit by bit.
- You can now divide your space up with your ruler and lightly draw in your lines. Like I said above, take the time to figure out roughly how much space you’ll need for each section as it will depend on how much info you want to have!
- Now for each section I used a series of different ‘fonts’ or styles of writing, alternating between cursive, print, block and some random others I’ve been free handing since primary school! I found it gave it a nice chalkboard effect and really broke it up. If you really don’t think you can free hand the writing you could type out what you like on a computer, print and trace the whole thing. Like I said, time consuming, but an option if you don’t like your handwriting! Also make sure you leave yourself some room for a few little illustrations… if you want to get creative.
- So now that you’ve decided what fonts you’d like you can go ahead and start on each section. I always start with pencil and very lightly write what I want. This really is imperative as if you push too hard the pencil line won’t erase away well and will be seen even under the metallic pen and it’s easy to misjudge how big or small your writing needs to be to fit within your confined area. So a light touch is key! I also found it quite helpful to draw very very faint lines across each section so that my lettering would stay relatively straight (if I wanted it too!) and allowed me again to gauge how much room I would need.
- Once you’re happy with your pencil outlines you can go ahead and colour and outline with your metallic markers. Chop and change your colour combos as you see fit and add any kind of little embellishments you like, I particularly like to line the outline twice and then fill the insides with a lighter contrasting colour!
- Now that you have your writing and milestones all completed you can add a few basic illustrations beside some sections. I try and pick the easier of the subjects just because I’m not a great drawer. In this case I drew some musical notes for Mister L’s love of singing, I drew a stack of books with his favourite books and of course I drew (a very rough) Hoot from Giggle & Hoot, which is one of Mister L’s favourite tv shows!
Of course you need to now go back and erase any faint pencil lines you’ve got leftover, be careful not to erase too much over the metallic pens as it will take some of the metallic fleck with it.
And now you’re done! You can show off your wonderful milestone birthday board at your child’s party or in the background of your cake smash session! Why not even frame it, like I plan on doing, and use it as decoration in your child’s play room or bedroom afterwards.
I just love how bright and playful Mister L’s looks and I can’t wait to add it to his party layout. You’ll have to stay tuned for more details about his party this weekend too!
So there you have my tutorial on how to make a birthday board. What do you think? And do you plan on trying one yourself? Let me know in the comments below! And don’t forget to share!!