Sunday, August 4

Graduation party: DIY archway

Ti's party season at peak, in New Jersey, just like in other States. And so party shops have been in brisk business all through.

With practically every part of party decor being thrust at you on party shop shelves, is it possible at all to add a DIY element to decor?

A quickie image search on Google throws up plenty of DIY theme decor ideas. They range from colour-coded cup-cake holders, to wall decor festoons and cutlery holders. But when family friends needed to host a graduation party for their twin sons who are headed to college recently, Shirley Gandhi took it on herself to make it super special for the boys.

She spent endless hours on making a massive party arch-way. The project took her three-four hours every night over two weeks, after dinner time when kids were asleep.

And the results of her sleepless nights and meticulous work show.

graduation party DIY archway
To most of us, these two black columns may look like identical-size cardboard cartons stacked over one another. In reality, they are about 40 sheets of thermocol, popularly called styrofoam in US, cut to the same size and glued and piled over each other.

Shirley stuck to the theme of silver and black colours for the party.

 If you notice the column, you see that black colour gift wrapping paper, and silver lace or ribbon have been used extensively.

As for the letters, she bought a few shiny silver paper gift totes, used one larger side of the bags each to cut out a letter, and glued them over.

``Each sheet had to be cut about 12 by 12 inches each. I did not really measure before cutting them because I used same sized sheets for the whole project and cut them in halves and quarters,'' says Shirley.

To work on it easier, Shirley divided the two columns into three parts each, rather three blocks each, carried them over to her friend's place, and assembled them. She then used the silver lace or ribbon to glue them for the finishing look.

If you look in the picture, the part where the blocks have been glued has thicker silver lace.

Such an archway would have cost several times over if they had ordered it from elsewhere.  A lot of material went on in making it nevertheless.

``For the top arch alone, the silver lace cost me $ 5 a yard, and I used about five yards of that lace. Other ribbons cost about $ 3 per yard. Besides, there was picture printing, gift wrap paper, glue, and cardboards too,'' says Shirley.

Using thermocol made the columns easy to carry, and the archway's height at 7 feet, gave them the right weight. As a result, they did not wobble too. There was plenty of taping, gluing, and cutting involved, so you can guess the materials.

The top part of this welcome banner was made of black cardboard.

Shirley also made the Thank You cards for display on behalf of Wayne and Warren using off-white card paper, and some silver paper. She embellished the card with a ready-made flower.

The black theme has been in use here. Shirley bought photo frames and used the graduation profile pictures of Wayne and Warren in them. The pictures have been mounted however, on carefully black-wrapped cardboard cartons that seamlessly blend into the decor.

She used coloured mesh-cloth to fix the cards that she made, for the respective universities they are to join. Taping the cloth to the roof must have been a daunting task.

Naturally, these elements blended into the overall decor and colour scheme for the party.

 It's amazing how easily such party supplies are available at party stores too - custom made to hilt.  Please bear with the fuzzy picture below.

The festoons above are bought from a store, but my hunch is, they can be made at home too. Shirley's massive archway project overshadowed these decor elements.

And the compliments were plenty.

``The boys walked in and said, `Wow! We've a party at our house!' looking at the archway. That was the biggest compliment,'' says Shirley.

And the `Wow! 'bit did not stop there at the party. Shirley ended up pitching for the graduation party of another friend. This time, she did it differently though.

She used red mesh, black cardboard and shiny red paper to make the welcome decor. She twisted and turned the same mesh to make a flower on either sides, and knotted the part below them to give it the look of a festive curtain.

The colour theme of this party was red and black, and so she made the wall-decor card using the colours. The young lad Andre is headed to Colgate University, and that formed the basis for thie card alongside his pictures - profile and family.

``It took lesser time than the thermocol archway. I had only a few days' time for the red decor project,'' Shirley notes.

She is all geared for more such projects after the positive response with these. Shirley used DIY extensively for her own daughter's first birthday party, which is what puts her at ease with other such party decor projects for friends.

If you look close, the pink profusion in the picture has `butterflies' theme running through it. She made the `happy birthday' banner using pink sheets and cutting them into a butterfly festoon. On either sides of the wall, she used pink gauze bags, filled them with pink M&Ms, and made the pink badges for her daughter's name - Ria. The pink paper badges were stuck on to satin tape and fixed to the wall.

She used the pink mesh-cloth for a casual decor feel, besides cardboard boxes wrapped with shining pink gift paper to mount the candy buckets. She filled the tiny pinkish cartons with other goodies.

If you have a party coming up at home, you could try your own bit too. With some planning and minimal purchases, you could turn the decor into a satisfying project. All it takes is some decision on colour scheme and some goodies to match! And what a feeling when you get to bask in compliments from near and dear!

Imprints Handmade looks forward to more such projects from Shirley. And more such projects from the rest of us reading in too. As August gallops by, am hoping for more DIY crafting - Dasara, Diwali, Halloween, Raksha Bandhan and Ganesha festival besides Id! Don't we have plenty of excuse to create some crafting mess?

Picture Courtesy: Shirley Gandhi

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