How to Make a Photo Banner | Decorating With Photos

4 Materials
3 Hours

Get the steps to create a photo banner to decorate for your next celebration. Photo banners are perfect for milestone birthdays, graduations, retirements, anniversaries, or showers.

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When my oldest was born in 1999 I became a complete shutterbug! I’ve taken thousands of photos of him over the past 18-1/2 years. That’s not an exaggeration. I have approximately 5,000 photos per year (and those are just the good ones that I kept) since becoming a mom.

Today I want to share how I used some of these pictures to create a special photo banner decoration for my son’s graduation party.

Define your Project

I limited myself to photos taken from his first day of kindergarten up until baccalaureate in his cap and gown. I figured it was a graduation party, so it made sense to stick to his school years.

Setting parameters for the scope of your project can really make it easier.

I ended up with both vertical and horizontal pictures, so I decided to crop them into squares to make them uniform for the banner.

To make the project as cost-effective as possible I decided to use 12×12 cardstock to mat the photos. Each sheet would make nine 4×4 squares.

Measure the Space

Measure the area where you’ll be hanging your photo banner. I chose the opening between my kitchen and family room. My opening was 10-feet (120 inches) wide and 5.5-feet high.

I decided to put a 1-inch space between the photos. So I divided 120 by 5 (4 inches for the matted photo plus a 1-inch space) which meant I’d need about 24 photo mats for each row.

And then I eyeballed it and decided that four rows of banners would look best.

I also wanted to put a photo on both the front and the back of each piece of cardstock. I wanted both sides of the banner to be decorated if people were going to be hanging out in the family room.

SO! Four rows of 24 photo mats meant I’d need about 200 photos.

Supplies you’ll need:

I chose to use his high school’s colors as the color scheme for decorating for the party. At first, I thought I’d use thick twine to hang the photos, but the ribbon was 50% off at Hobby Lobby so that’s what I used!

To make the same style of the banner I made, you’ll need:

  • cardstock (6 of each color)
  • miniature clothespins
  • 1/4-inch wide ribbon
  • 1 package of 8 command hooks that could hold 1-lb each
  • double-sided adhesive
  • 12×12 paper trimmer

I went through my computer and chose approximately 16 photos per year for grades K-12 and ordered my prints. I made sure to include at least one photo of him with each of the guests invited to his party. And he’s played on lots of different baseball teams so I also chose at least one picture of him in each of the different uniforms.

Assembling your photo banner:

First, cut your cardstock into 4×4 squares. Next, crop your photos to 3.5×3.5 squares. Adhere a photo to the center on the front and back of each square. I alternated navy and gold cardstock while attaching the photos so it would be easy to hang the photos later.

The night before you want to hang your photos, attach the command hooks to the wall. It’s important to give the adhesive time to cure before adding the ribbon and photos.

I put the hooks on the very edge of the opening. A sheet of paper helped me to space them from the bottom of one hook to the top of the next hook.

When you’re ready to assemble your display, tie a knot to make a loop at one end of your ribbon. Hang it on one of the hooks. Extend the ribbon to the corresponding hook and allow just a little bit of slack.

Tie another knot with a loop and trim your ribbon. It would be pretty to leave longer tails on the loops to hang down, but I have cats who like to eat and then puke up ribbon so I kept the tails short. ?

After you’ve hung your ribbons, get your stack of photos and your clothespins. I wanted some color contrast so I used white clothespins on pictures with a navy mat and navy clothespins on pictures with a gold mat.

Decorating with Photos was a Huge Hit

The final display turned out to be the most popular area of the party. All of our guests spent some time looking at the photos.

Even my son commented on how much he liked it and that his friends all did too.

This would be a great way to decorate for so many other types of parties! Think how fun it would be for an anniversary, retirement, or milestone birthday celebration.

Creating a Memorable Photo Gift

After the party was over, I took down the photos. I ordered several packages of photo pocket page protectors for an 8×8 scrapbook album.

It was so easy to slip the photos into these pockets! Because I’d mounted a photo on both the front and back of each square of cardstock, it was a simple matter of slipping one square into each pocket.

I gave my son the completed album with all the photos before he left to go to college.

I love that this party decoration easily becomes a sentimental gift as well. Let me know if you have any questions about making a banner like this for your next party! I love to hear from you.

Resources for this project:

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