Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Make Decorative Signs for Parties

Keep calm, it's easy to make party signs

I got a comment asking about signs for parties, and have been working on addressing it.

There are two main ways I do this--using graphics programs (PhotoShop or InDesign really) and by hand. The by hand stuff I mostly leave to talented people like Phil or Stella but sometimes make something much less awesome than they make. 

Step 1: Get Inspired

For either one, I start with some internet searches for inspiration. Pinterest is great for this, as is Google image search. Sometimes we already have a specific, or very specific, idea in mind, and sometimes we just kind of make things up.

I recently hosted a Dirty Dancing viewing. For sign inspiration there, I searched for Dirty Dancing parties (did you know you can have Dirty Dancing themed bachelorette parties? And Kate Middleton had one? These are Important Life Facts!) and found two great inspiration images:
Inspiration from the defunct Mary Moneymaker on Etsy and

Step 2: Make It Better

However, while these were great, they weren't quite great enough. For the first sign, while I liked the concept,I wanted something a bit truer to the original Keep Calm and Carry on sign. The second one's big issue is that it was a t-shirt. Perhaps a more dedicated host would have made or purchased "Welcome to Kellerman's" shirts for all the guests. But then how could they adorably dress up in 80's interpretation of 60's style? Really, I was just being considerate. I decided two signs were plenty since it was a viewing party and we'd be watching the tv (or ahem, a laptop when my DVD playing device freaked out.) For more signs, you can repeat a couple over in different locations or adjust them to the location (for example, a giant glittery cocktail above the bar).

Kellerman's sign in the movie as they drive by

Step 3: Draft

Depending on what works for you, in PhotoShop, InDesign, MS Paint, or on a piece of paper if that's your thing, map out what you want to do. At this stage I realized that in order to get an accurate interpretation of the Welcome to Kellerman's sign, I should use a screen capture from the movie. Unfortunately, it is not shown that large in the movie. This is a good time to figure out if your plans are outside your skill set, or just far too ambitious. 

Step 4: Make It and Use It

This really depends on what you are comfort level is with different techniques. As mentioned, I am more comfortable making graphics on a computer. If yours is hand crafting and painting elaborate designs, go for it. If it is just downloading images off the internet and printing them, do that--just make sure you aren't using ones for sale or making a profit off the party if the designer doesn't allow that. In this case, feel free to use either of my final images for any parties you want. Clicking on the download link should take you to a paper size downloadable PDF. I would love to hear about your use if you do.

And the final images. For the first, I reinterpreted the original Keep Calm sign with a silhouette of the iconic leap, and made the last part more Dirty Dancing than calm propaganda:

Keep Calm and Carry a Watermelon (download here)

For the second, I spent a ridiculous amount of time in PhotoShop copying the screenshot with tracing, angle adjustments, and some creativity:

Kellerman's Mountain House--Max Kellerman Welcomes You (download here)

Hopefully they worked okay. And remember, nobody puts baby in the corner. 


  1. These signs and the work you did on them are way epic. Thanks for sharing! I think I'll have to keep it simpler for my own parties but this is a good place to aim for.

    1. Aw, thank you. And I agree to stick to your comfort level (unless you have a lot of time to mess around). This is also why I serve less elaborate party food than you do.

  2. Loved these signs. How creative! Thank you for sharing. As always, inspiring!

    1. Thank you! As always, you are very kind =)

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