Friday, April 8, 2022

How To Make An Epic Photo Backdrop With Pink Foam Board


I've been holding out on you, piglets and pooh bears.

After a too-long hiatus in our hobby of throwing ridiculously elaborate parties, John and I've taken on planning not one but TWO parties over the next two months: a birthday party for me (WOOT), and a baby shower for a friend.

The shower is for the sister of one of my oldest and dearest friends, so she's basically family. When she became pregnant with her first child, she said if she could ever have a baby shower, she'd want John and I to plan it.

So of COURSE we're doing this party.

The mom-to-be has had a rough time the last several years, and now a high-risk pregnancy with multiple hospital visits already, so I've decided her shower is going to be an Event. (It's the one thing I can control, you know?) Besides, after our initial consult she told us to "surprise her," so I get to go hog wild. And it's Winnie-the-Pooh themed. Whee!

(Let's spare a moment of pity for John, who I've had running ragged on the build end, ha.)

Our biggest build for the party is the photo backdrop, so I want to show y'all how we did it, what we used, and give you some guidelines for making your own.

After many hours of research, rage-quitting, rage-re-starting, and banging my head against the virtual Pinterest Board wall, I threw enough ideas John's way for him to cobble together this mock-up in Photoshop:



Ideally you want your backdrop to be a focal point on its own while still leaving room for people to stand or sit in front of it. In our case the mom-to-be's chair will be in front while she opens presents, then the chair can be taken away afterward for group photos. (Check Pinterest if you need ideas; you'll find way too many.)

Most party backdrops are made with curtains on stands or fake greenery panels, but I'm here to sing the praises of pink foam board insulation, my crafty friends. Pink foam is feather-light, not-too-pricey, and easy to cut, sand, & paint. In our case it also helped that we had a whole bunch of scraps already in the garage.

We started with the smaller 3D elements. First we projected:



Traced:


...cut with a jigsaw, and sanded the edges to round them slightly:


Next I painted them with craft paint:


And finally I added the details and outline. The sanded edges gave me a good guide for this:


Ta-daaa!



(I made this sound fast, but really I worked on it over 3 nights.)

We repeated that for the balloon and second Pooh cut-out:



This is for the dessert table, I'll show you that display at the end.

We also cut and painted the cloud layers.

This backdrop is so large it won't fit through doorways (because of course it is), so we hinged it with tape to fold into one 4x8 panel:


I know this looks huge, but that's only because it is.

Testing out placement of Pooh and the clouds:


The clouds and Pooh will be held away from the backer with foam spacers, to give a more 3D effect.

Painting was next. The matte navy we chose looks velvety smooth from a distance, I love it:


You can still see the lines of the tape hinges, but we'll be partially hiding those behind clouds and Pooh bear.

Oh, and fun fact: we also used the thinner blue insulation board for some of the clouds - and left those unpainted, because the shade of baby blue was perfect as-is.



At this point we paused for a site visit, and brought back a photo of the room where most of the shower will be hosted. The room has teal curtains, which is why I chose the color scheme of navy, baby blue, and teal.

John worked a little more Photoshop magic to help me visualize it all in place:


That's his digital mock-up...

...and this is where we're at in real life:

The 3D layers are attached with Velcro, so we can take them off to fold up the background.

All that's missing is Pooh's balloon string (made of painted wire) and this balloon garland we'll be adding at 10 and 4 on the circle border:


Teal & Tiffany Balloon Garland

It's hard to tell with the lousy lighting in that photo, but the 3D elements cast shadows that look pretty nifty IRL. I'd love to make another version on a white background with color-changing LED strips behind the clouds, because I bet that would look AMAZING. Someone, please, steal this idea and send me pictures.


Of course I'll share final photos after the shower, but to tide you over 'til then here come more of our party projects:


This is another sheet of pink foam, painted the same color, that will be the display over the food table.

Once again I had John photograph the space at the host's house and photoshop a mockup for me, since my brain doesn't visualize well:


I love comparing the mock-up to reality, so let's skip ahead to where we are now:


Our flowers are different since we made enormous ones, but the general idea is there. I like how the pre-scored lines in the foam board look like a subtle shiplap pattern.

The one thing I wanted to make from the very beginning were these giant paper flowers:

I definitely have a love/hate relationship with them now; love how they look, haaaaaaate trying to space those petals evenly. Dang.


There are dozens of tutorials out there for giant paper flowers, so much as I love you, you can't make me write another one. I recommend watching a bunch and then making it up as you go along, because, in all honesty, these aren't as hard as they look. They're just mildly infuriating for perfectionists like me.



It was around this point that we realized maybe we didn't need 10-15 flowers. Heh.

The flower petals themselves are easy enough to cut by hand, but I do recommend a Cricut or other cutting machine if you want more complicated flower centers like these:



Despite the struggle making them I love these paper flowers. For less than 20 sheets of colored paper each, you get a HUGE impact:


I especially like how they look from the side.



You can probably tell we're scrambling to make room in our little house for these big pieces - and in fact we're delivering them to the party house this week, though the baby shower is still a few weeks away. It'll be nice to get our making space back, since we have another party to build for, too. Aw yeah. (More on that another time - though you eagle eyes may notice a not-so-hidden hint at the theme.)


I still have more fun baby shower things to show you, but for now let's stick to the pink foam builds and end with my Hundred Acre Wood sign:



Wood-graining pink foam is SO FUN, gang, highly recommend. All you need is a toothpick or something pointy.



I base-coated these in a medium brown craft paint, let it dry, then added a quick streaky blend of light tan and the same medium brown. I love this part, and apparently had so much fun I forgot to take a process pic, oops. Here's the end result, though:


The wording is black Dollar Tree vinyl cut on our Cricut, and each foam board is hot-glued to a real wooden stake from the garage.

The pot is also from Dollar Tree, and here's a clever way to add weight so your sign won't tip over:

After hot-gluing the stake in place we filled the pot with Dollar Tree rocks. Then John slid a circle of pink foam down the stake and hot-glued it in place:

Now we have a weighted sign post, and no worry of rocks falling out if it ever does tip over.

To finish it off I painted the foam black, covered it in Dollar Tree moss, and added silk flowers.


Since this was made with scraps from other projects, our only cost was the pot and stones. Not bad for a $3 DIY, right?


I know this was more of a work-in-progress post than a grand reveal, but I hope it gives you some inspiration for your own future parties! Stay tuned for finished beauty shots of everything installed later. I'll also be sharing the adorable Pooh favor boxes John designed from scratch, our oh-so-pretty party favors, and the custom floral crowns I've been making for all the guests. (If you follow my Stories you already got a peek at those. INSIDER PERKS.)

Now I need your help, bots: tell me, what's your favorite non-traditional baby shower game? And by "non-traditional" I mean I don't want to melt chocolate bars into diapers, please. So far I've decided on "name that tune" where you play 5 second snippets of songs that have the word "baby" in the title, and then a silly version of "Would You Rather" where guests have to guess what the mom-to-be's answers will be. I'd like at least one more game, though, so any suggestions?

*****

Oh, and siince this is a pink foam appreciation post, I have to show y'all my DIY Hobbit door wreaths again. Have to.


These are so fun to make, and a perfect use for leftover foam scraps! I love that I'm still seeing new photos on FoE of y'all making these with your friends and craft groups. This is definitely one of my most popular DIYs, so give it a look if you missed it before.

Or if you want more, you can check my Crafts Page to browse ALL my tutorials. Last I checked there were well over 150 DIYs there, from paper craft to jewelry-making to free templates to make your own Knights Who Say 'Ni' helmet. You know. For reasons. Important, shrubbery-gathering reasons.

Love y'all, happy Friday! 


43 comments:

  1. "Purse Scavenger Hunt" is a fun baby shower game :)

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  2. Leah in WilliamsburgApril 8, 2022 at 3:27 PM

    I hope you're finally able to do your Hitchhiker's Guide birthday party! I was excited about that one back when you first mentioned it, pre-COVID.

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  3. I am a huge fan of making personalized Mad Libs for showers and other parties. You need someone to lead the activity because way too many people don't know their nouns from their verbs, but you end up with some hilarious keepsakes.

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    1. We also did a fun variation of a Mad Libs at my brother & sister-in-law's babyy shower that works as something to do during a mingling time. We had cups/buckets labeled with parts of speech & such (noun, adjective, verb, name, occupation etc. as needed) people could drop ideas into during the mingling/snack time and then had the mom-to-be draw words out of the cups closer to the end of the party to complete the mad libs. it worked very well

      We also did the memory game where we put a bunch of baby things on a tray, covered it with a blanket and then removed the blanket, gave people a minute to look at it, and then they had to remember as many things as they could. Winner got a prize, mom & dad got all the stuff from the tray (included things like plug cover, a sippy cup, a diaper etc)

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  4. Let's see, Ive split guests into groups and had them try to make toilet paper diapers with the mom judging the best one. Kind of a riff on toilet paper wedding gowns.

    I also set the floor up to be hand Sorry with painters tape. But that was just ridiculous. I added a rock paper scissors element. If you rolled to land on another person's square they could fight for it by playing rps.

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    1. Human Sorry! I also bought the actual game to have the pop-o-matic.

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  5. I personally like more introverted games that I don’t feel awkward participating in. Like gift bingo. Given a blank bingo card you fill out what you think they will get and just fill it in while the honoree is opening gifts.
    I love seeing your builds! You guys are so creative!

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  6. Sara Jane BenjaminApril 8, 2022 at 5:52 PM

    A more literary shower game: take the titles of well known children's books and translate them by substituting synonyms. Guests must write in the correct titles. For instance, Guess How Much I Love You, becomes Make a conjecture as to the quantity of my deep and abiding affection towards you.

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    1. Ooh, I LIKE that idea! I'll need to keep that one in mind...

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  7. We did more activities than games at my baby shower. I had a station for guests to write silly notes on diapers, decorating onesies with stencils and sharpies, and painting / decoupaging wooden baby blocks. They were a hit and I loved having things to remember the shower by. Or funny diapers to read during those 2am changes.

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    1. My niece had onesie decorating at her shower (make sure to get different sizes) and they had a clothes line to hang the finished ones on to dry...made for very cute decoration.

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  8. Love it all! And how did I miss those hobbit door wreaths??? Glad you shared them again, because now I'm itching to make one! 🤩

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  9. I did one for my sister-in-law where I bought a bunch of small baby gear items - a thermometer, a spoon, a brush, etc. and put each one in a numbered paper bag that I stapled shut. We passed around each bag and everyone tried to guess what was in the bag by feeling it through the paper, shaking it, etc. I had cute numbered paper for writing down guesses. At the end, my sil opened up each bag in order and we gave points for correct answers, and she got to keep all the little supplies.
    My favorite one at my shower was more an activity - the hosts took pictures of each person and put them in an album, and then everyone was given a colored card to write a note of blessing and welcome for my baby. Some people decorated their notes with stickers or drawings (lots of supplies were provided). The hosts added these notes in next to each photo, and it's been a lovely keepsake.

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  10. For my sister's baby shower, we played pictionary, and all of the prompts were kids books, Disney movies, and fairy tales. It was a ton of fun, and everyone from the younger cousins to the grandmas got very into it.

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  11. For my sister's shower we did a name that children's book game - I photoshopped the titles off of kids book covers and everyone had to guess the title. It was a virtual shower so we kept it simple, but it would be fun to give bonus points for naming authors, or being able to recite part of the book. It also can prompt a conversation about the best kids books which is fun.

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  12. I'm going to second the gift bingo game. If it's a large party with a lot of gifts.... People get distracted and start chatting and pretty soon mom is holding up a gift and no one noticed. Having to pay attention for a game keeps things more focused.

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  13. Two that were big hits at a co-ed shower I hosted -- we had mini jars of playdoh, and everyone had 5 minutes to sculpt a baby. (Could pick something else.) The parents-to-be then came back in the room and awarded prizes (best, worst, cutest, etc) and tried to guess who had made them. Really fun! We also did a Guess the Price kind of game, where I printed out photos of ridiculous baby products (some expensive, some not). We did men vs. women. Who could guess the closest price without going over?? So funny!

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  14. At a friend's shower we had a match the group of baby animals to the grown up animal game (eg. goslings would be matched with goose, puggle with platypus, etc), but it was mostly unusual animals.
    Many of my friends were fine arts students in university, so decorating onesies, or alphabet letters for a nursery was also very popular.

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  15. I recently made giant paper flowers for my daughter's 10th birthday and you're right, they are a pain! But worth it in the end! I love the backdrop and Pooh and the flowers are perfect!

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  16. I planned a baby shower last year and I totally get that feeling of "this is something I CAN control". There's been some good game suggestions here - I did a baby-themed pub quiz with a bucket of sweets and fidget toys as prizes. Categories included things like baby animal names, baby traditions from other countries, and baby milestones. I also ran a really fun little game called "Don't say Baby". Basically, every guest gets a pin badge (I found some cute pink and blue bear-shaped safety pins in multi-packs, but you could easily make your own using shrink plastic and pinbacks to suit any theme) and the rules are simple: Don't Say Baby. If you catch someone saying the word, you get to take their pinbadge. Whoever has the most at the end of the event gets a prize. Its surprisingly tricky - and a great icebreaker:)

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    1. Cass, we did this for my daughter's baby shower. So fun! People started out sooo carefully not saying "baby", but by halfway through some pins had changed hands several times... and my quiet niece won the prize (bottle of wine, s'okay- it was all adults) by cunningly drawing people out in one- on- one chats. I still get the giggles, thinking of her saying "Tiny Human" as she accepted the prize (I don't think she said "baby" once!)
      -Carol S-B

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  17. Books explained badly. Write up a vague one sentence synopsis of childrens books or stories and have the guests try and guess the book. i.e. “hungry home invader takes a nap” for Goldilocks or “visually impaired rodents encounter severe consequences” for three blind mice.

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  18. For my sister-in-law we all had guess the date cards to fill in; date, time, name, weight, length etc. We also all signed a book and she glued them in with pictures from the party.

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  19. I didn't read all the comments, so hopefully this isn't a duplicate. But as a word nerd, I've always loved the game where you have to name the baby of each type of animal: cat=kitten, dog=puppy, etc but then you add on hard ones like swan=cygnet. It's neat to hear which ones people have heard before.
    I also second the purse scavenger hunt one already suggested, it's fun too.

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  20. That really is an epic backdrop! I hope it'll be used more than once!

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  21. You both are so clever - just brilliant ideas coming to life, I am sure the parents will be over the moon and the guests stunned!

    Is the back drop self supported, or does it just lean against a wall? Do you think this would hold up outdoors (on a reasonable day, lol)? My mind is whirling with ideas!

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    1. We plan to lean the backdrop against the curtain rod, then hold it in place with blue tape. The whole thing weights next to nothing, so my concern if you put it outdoors would be it blowing away! You'd have to brace it against any wind. If it's leaning against a fence or exterior wall, though, then you should be fine.

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    2. Thanks Jen, kind of what I thought, but you two get very clever at times, and who knows what magic you can come up with!

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  22. Looks like you've got some great ideas here for shower games! But I would like to toss in my two cents' worth about baby shower gifts. When our geekling was born, our church threw us a shower, and everyone brought us clothes for the baby. But NOT baby clothes - it was clothing in sizes 2-5. And it was HEAVENLY!
    Babies go through the little clothes so fast, each outfit might be only worn once. But for the first few years, every time our geekling went up a size, I could go to the closet and get out a couple of adorable outfits from our church family - they bought gorgeous stuff that I would never have been willing or able to buy at full price - and those outfits would get a lot of wear. Ever since then, that's been my go-to gift for a baby shower. :)

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  23. At the last baby shower I went to everyone got some playdough and had to make a baby. The mum to be gave out prizes for the best babies and we all had a good laugh at some of the less-successful "babies"

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  24. This is PERFECT timing as I've been looking for backdrop ideas for a graduation party that aren't Dollar Tree tablecloths on a PVC frame!

    For my shower, each guest hat to put a paper plate on top of their head then attempt to draw a baby. I was the judge for best, funniest etc. The pictures are hilarious (my grandmother was concentrating SO hard!) and they are the pictures that were kept rather than boring ones of me opening gifts.

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  25. We had an ABC book and had everyone write notes on their letter page (first or last name), also played "Family or Famous" had childhood pics of the family, then got celebrity childhood/baby photos to compare with. Changed up some to black & white pics to look the same. Apparently, Brad Pitt looks like he belongs to our family (dead ringer for my brother, as a baby).

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  26. For my sister's shower, I brought a bunch of white onesies, some fabric markers, and some fabric paint and told people to go nuts. There were some beautiful ones and some...interesting ones. The markers dry really fast, so they're easier than the paint that you have to lay out or hang up somewhere as people finish them. We also played cards because that's us and we didn't want to do any of the things.

    At my shower, my MiL had a calendar that everyone wrote in - family birthdays, advice (like look for smiles), and little things. It was sweet and a good reference for tracking bdays for me later.

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  27. For a baby shower game - post a sign at the front door saying there are baby socks hidden in the common rooms (living, dining, kitchen) and the person who finds the most socks wins a prize.

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  28. One of my friends did a "Porn or Labor" game sheets for her baby shower. You have to guess if the picture of the woman is from porn or in labor. Lol! They were hysterical. You can buy them off of Etsy or print them yourself.

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  29. I second the guess the price/price is right style game some one mentioned above. I went to a party where one of there hosts actually bought a bunch of baby essentials like diaper cream, pacifiers, a set of onesies, etc. She told us which store she shopped at, and held up each item. We all had sheets where we listed the prices next to each item. At the end you add up your list and she revealed her total from the receipt. Closest without going over wins! I thought it was great because people had all types of strategies they used to makes their guesses, you could talk to other guests as you went if you wanted, and there was a clear winner.

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  30. There's the game where you win/lose a pin (like a baby diaper pin, or a clothes pin or whatever) if you say something baby related or whatever rules you want to make up. I think there's a similar version for bridal showers.

    I also have seen a beer/bevarage chug contest out of baby bottles that was pretty funny. One lady just gave up and took the top of and drank it that way, lol. She may have "won" but I don't think she took home the prize. You could do other versions of this kid sized things to complete a goal - maybe?

    What about a variation of "would you rather" (i think what you mentioned in the post is like a version of the newlyweds game) of silly/weird baby things. Like would you rather take your screaming baby to the opera or the somewhere else not great to have a screaming baby. Or maybe like would you rather have a porg or a other cute geeky creature as a baby? (.... maybe my version of this game isn't actually that fun, haha... i don't have kids!)

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  31. I generally loathe icebreaker or baby shower games, however there was one that I thought was actually fun. Take a variety of baby foods in clear jars and remove the labels after numbering them and making a master list of the contents. The game is to guess the contents. It is much harder to tell the difference between green beans and peas than you might think! I like this one because it isn't silly or gross.

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  32. A pretty entertaining game we played at my baby shower was baby sock matching. There were about twenty pairs of colorful baby socks (which were then given to me as a gift) mixed up in a shoe box sized plastic bin. Everybody got one minute to match and fold as many pairs as possible. It was hilarious to watch, and a nice addition to the pen and paper games we also played.

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  33. I went to a party where we were asked to create our idea of the baby in playdoh. I won, because I gave it Bob's Big Boy hair.

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