How to Make a Birthday Chalkboard or Milestone Poster

Bumble Bee Themed First Birthday Poster

For my daughter’s first birthday, I decided to mark the milestone with all her favorites as a keepsake. That’s how I ended up with a bee themed 1st Birthday Milestone Poster framed in her nursery.

I designed and created this poster on my own and used Shutterfly to print it out to a standard 16″ x 20″ poster size. This was the first time I designed such a sign and I started by looking at other chalkboards and birthday posters online. There are so many different types on multiple themes that it’s impossible to like just one!

For this poster, I used just my Mac and no additional software such as Photoshop or Lightroom. So, this tutorial makes it all the more convenient to create one on your own. I decided on a 16″ x 20″ final size for this poster as Michael’s carries a lot of frames in this size.

Choosing the background

To create a poster size document to frame for your little one’s big day, a larger sized background is always better. I used Keynote to make my birthday sign and I resized the document to 2000 x 2500 pts. This setting also prints to a 16″ x 20″ sized poster perfectly – as you can see in the image above.

Deciding on the color for your birthday sign is the next important step and based on this, all your other images and text are matched. The trendy chalkboard is ever popular and keynote has a default chalkboard background which you can use. However, it is wise to think a bit on how you would like your poster to finally look. For example, is the rest of your party decor all on a lighter color palette such as white or pastel shades? Does your theme already have tones of black or grey in it? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then it’s better to go with a white background or a shade to match your theme. When I created the poster for my daughter, I went with a white background because she had a bumble bee themed birthday and I envisioned using a few black and yellow bees, honeycombs and bee hives.

For another poster I designed, this time, for a friend of mine, I used the chalkboard background and had all the images and text match traffic light colors because it was a transportation themed birthday.

Transportation Themed Chalkboard Sign
What fonts to use?

Once you have the background, think broadly on the text you would like to include in the poster. For example, your little one’s favorite toys, books, food, baby’s weight and height, etc. There are loads of milestones to choose from and you can always play around with the placement. There are lovely fonts available online these days and most of them are available to download for free. Christine of Where the Smiles Have Been has a lovely collection to choose from.

These fonts can be downloaded and then used in your poster. When you’ve downloaded the font(s) you like, double click to run the .ttf file which will display a dialog box as shown below. Click on “Install Font”.

Installing a Font on Mac

Once you have installed you new font, it may not show up automatically in the format toolbar of Keynote when you want to use it. In that case, select the text you want to change to the new font, click on Format –> Show Fonts and the dialog box (as shown below) will appear. Select the font you want to use from this list.

Fonts on Keynote

Using fonts, you can play around with your poster until you come up with a combination of colors and placement that pleases you. When I create my posters, I try to avoid using the more ‘formal’ font types such as Times New Roman or Arial. The fonts such as Marker Felt, Chalkboard or Noteworthy gives the poster a more playful look.

Your child’s favorites

This is the best part of this project – listing out all your little one’s likes and accomplishments. There are different things to choose from:

  1. Things s/he can say or do
  2. Height
  3. Weight
  4. Number of teeth
  5. Favorite Songs / Rhymes
  6. Favorite Toys
  7. Things s/he loves
  8. Nicknames
  9. Favorite Books
  10. Favorite Food

For my daughter’s poster, I experimented a little with an acrostic poem to describe her. This took me a few days to think about and get it to rhyme perfectly. For my friend, I went about a shorter way and just included adjectives describing her son. I thought this is a lovely way to make the keepsake a memory.

Once you have the text sorted out, you are almost there. The next step is to make your poster look fancy with images.

Inserting images

For images, I do a quick search online for ideas on icons, symbols and colors which are associated with the theme I am working on. Usually, I try to connect every image and color to the theme and as a general rule, I use as few colors as possible to make it look easy on the eye.

For example, for my daughter’s bumblebee theme, I wanted to use only black, yellow and white as colors and have images matching the theme of bees and flowers. For the transportation chalkboard sign I created, I used different types of vehicles, traffic light colors of red, yellow and green and made it a point that the vehicle colors in the images I chose, matched the overall color palette, too.

Displaying the birthday sign

You can display your birthday poster / chalkboard either in a frame as part of the party decor or simply place it on the main party table propped up with a stand. I chose to frame mine as I wanted to hang it in her nursery.

When saving your final poster, it will help to export the file as a JPEG and a PDF document. The JPEG file can be used to share on social media whereas the PDF file can be sent to the print shop. I used Shutterfly to get it printed and sent back to me in a 16″ x 20″ size format. The frame I purchased from Michael’s.


I have these designs on my Etsy shop available for purchase (includes personalization). You can choose from a bee themed birthday poster or a transportation themed chalkboard with cars, tractors and the like. I hope to add some more soon.

DIY Paper Flower Birthday Number

The Bee Themed Backdrop

Paper flowers come in really handy as quick, easy to make decorations for any occasion. The materials you need to make these pretty designs are usually found in all homes. I made these tissue paper flowers for my little one’s first birthday, as a quick design element in her photo gallery backdrop.

In the 1st birthday backdrop pic above, you will notice that the flowers at the top are also made out of tissue paper. I followed the same steps to fold these flowers, too. The difference being the size of the paper:

  1. For the center most flower, I used 10 sheets measuring 20 inches.
  2. For the next biggest size, I used 6 square sheets measuring 12 inches,
  3. For the in between sized flowers, I used 5 sheets measuring 8 inches and lastly
  4. Used 4 sheets measuring 5 inches for the the smallest flowers.

I wanted something which screamed out ‘1’ for her special day, and I wanted it to be a very DIY, eco friendly design, too. I found a floral tissue paper numeral idea along with a very detailed tutorial on making the paper flowers on The Craft Patch.

To make my paper flower number, I needed to have a firm base to attach the flowers and then the multiple flowers themselves. For the base i.e. the number 1 (since it was my little one’s first birthday), I used pieces of a cardboard box glued together to form the digit. I then covered this cardboard numeral in yellow tissue paper to match the theme, before I glued the finished flowers on it.

How to make the template for number ‘1’:
You will need:
Amazon Packaging box
Ruler / Measuring tape
  1. Take a piece of cardboard – I used Amazon packaging for this purpose. Draw the number ‘1’ and then cut this out.
  2. OR you can also cut the flaps of the box, and then stick them to form a ‘1’ shape (you need 3 flaps of a rectangular box). My numeral was approx 14 inches tall and 5 inches in width.
  3. Next, cover this base with a sheet of tissue paper to match your tissue flowers. This will enhance the look of your floral numeral.
  4. Start placing the tissue flowers on the numeral base to form the digit ‘1’. (The image shown in the series below if of before I covered the base in yellow tissue paper)

*For other numbers, draw the outline on cardboard or thick paper and then cut out to form the base.


How to make the tissue paper flowers:
You will need:
A pack of yellow tissue paper (10 sheets)
thread (preferably yellow)
Ruler / Measuring Tape
(This will allow you to make 6 flowers of 8" diameter)
  1. Measure & cut 8 inch squares – 30 in all –  of the yellow tissue paper. *to make 6 flowers, use 30 square sheets of tissue paper.
  2. Take 5 sheets and then accordion fold them to a 1 inch width as shown below.
  3. Cut and shape the ends of the accordion folded set of sheets as shown.
  4. Use a small piece of thread and tie the center of the sheets. Spread the right side of the accordion as seen in the image below.
  5. Now, carefully start separating the layers, starting from the top and pull towards to the center. There will be 4 layers on each side. Repeat on the left side.
  6. Gently fluff out and form the flower.
Completed Tissue Flower

My Little BEE Turns One!

How time flies!! I can’t believe it’s a year already since Zoe was born – a year of giggles and cries, loads of diapers and stepping on toys!

They say a baby’s first birthday is more for the parents rather than the child  – a milestone reached. Phew! With this year’s infamous coronavirus, the only course was to have a small celebration at home and invite family virtually. I started planning this about two months before her birthday just so that I would have enough time to get the theme sorted out, get the supplies and make the decor which I wanted to be almost all DIY. Oh! To add to this excitement, I also planned to bake a cake myself for her birthday.

My sister came up with the “bumblebee” theme idea and I thought it was fantastic – so I grabbed this idea and ran with it. I wanted to have everything color coordinated in yellow and black and since there would not be any guests coming over to the house, it was easier to plan for just a nice photo shoot with a cheerful bumblebee background and an online ‘meeting’ with our extended family. I looked through a couple of ideas online and saw there were heaps to choose from – I went with a photo gallery showcasing Zoe’s pics from newborn until a year old decorated with tissue paper flowers, simple crafty flowers and the milestone poster in the end.

The Bee Themed Backdrop

Queen Bee’s Cake:

For the cake, I decided to go with a cheesecake instead of a traditional flavored one. The recipe I followed was from my tried and tested Annabel Karmel’s Lemon Cheesecake. Believe me, you can’t go wrong with her recipes, she uses everyday ingredients with fantastic results, which means a happy baby.

I decided to make a cake topper myself for this cheesecake and chose a pom pom cake topper design from One Fab Day. I mixed the colors around a bit to match my bumblebee theme and I was quite pleased with the result. To make the pom poms, I followed a nice tutorial which you can see below. The digit ‘1’ that you see in the image has been made out of card stock paper and painted. I removed the cake topper before any eating began. You can make your own cake banner topper by following the steps outlined in my DIY cake topper post.

The Photo Gallery:

Putting the photo gallery was a bit trickier as compared to the cake topper. The reason being I had chosen a mix of ideas for this background. The first item was a bee themed photo gallery and this is an idea I got from Pinterest, which happened to be from Etsy. I chose to make these on my own, however, feeling a tad bit adventurous in the crafting area. I used card stock paper to cut out the hexagon and the little bees. To make the hexagon, I followed Sara Adams’ helpful tutorial on it. I created a template using cardboard and then simply cut out 12 hexagons for the gallery. I then followed a similar template based process for the little bees, but in this case, the bee was a free hand drawing. I bought tiny pegs from Michael’s to hold these photo memories.

Bumblebee themed photo pegs (Work In Progress)

How to make these pretty hexagons:

You will need:
Ruler / Measuring tape
Pen / Pencil
Yellow Paint color
Sharpie or black paint
Paint brush
  1. Take a piece of thick paper which can be folded. Use the tutorial (above) to make a hexagon.
  2. Next, take 2 sheets of card stock paper. Using the template you made in step 1, trace 12 hexagons on these sheets.
  3. Cut out each hexagon and paint each yellow. Keep these aside. Note that I painted just one side of the hexagon.
  4. Draw a honeybee outline on another sheet of card stock paper. Cut this out as a template.
  5. Using the honeybee template made in step 4, trace 12 honeybees (or 11 if you want to reuse the template on the photo gallery). Cut these out.
  6. Paint each of the honeybees yellow and leave to dry.
  7. Once dried, with a sharp pencil, trace out the bee stripes on each of the honeybees you’ve painted. Color or paint these stripes black. Keep aside.
  8. Take the hexagons and draw the digits from 0 to 11 on them. Color these digits black.
  9. Using glue, stick the honeybee on the right side of the hexagon and a peg on the rear side of the hexagon. Leave to dry.
  10. Repeat step 9 for the rest of the hexagons you’ve made.

Funny Face flowers & bumblebees:

The next item on my bee themed background were the funny face flowers. The idea behind these funny faces was to really depict the faces my little kid makes. I drew a free hand 5 petal flower on packaging paper, cut these out and then painted them a nice orangey-yellow. For the funny face centers, i drew these on card stock paper, painted them emoji yellow and drew the faces on them. I made a couple of bumblebees too to add to the top of this display. These are from regular card stock paper and painted yellow and black.

Tissue pom pom number:

I was toying with the idea of having a huge balloon ‘1’ or a DIY thing. I settled with a DIY number ‘1’ since I thought, “Why not? I am hand making pretty much the rest of it”. I have a lot of tissue paper (the gift wrapping variety) at home due to my origami hobby so this idea was very easy to source the materials for. I found this idea and DIY instructions on The Craft Patch Blog. You can read more about this craft of mine here.

Zoe’s Buddies – Fifi and Zozorex – join in the fun!


Violin (Design by Gen Hagiwara)

Violin (Design by Gen Hagiwara)

This design is a good example of the box pleating technique and is a fantastic model to fold, resulting in a stunning outcome. A complex design which requires glue to hold the neck in place, I found this one enjoyable to fold. There is a violin bow designed by Paulius Mielinis which complements this Violin. However, I am not aware if the diagrams or crease pattern have been published for it.

The most amazing part of this model is the attention to detail. It has everything from the scroll, peg box and pegs to the f-holes on the body of the instrument. I am amazed with the level of thought which has been put into designing this model by Gen Hagiwara – it is truly mind blowing. While a major portion of the folding sequence, in the beginning, is the pre-creasing to fold the basic Violin shape, the folding sequence quickly transitions to shaping the model to make it aesthetically realistic. The part which requires a lot of patience and dexterity is the neck of the violin, which includes the peg box and pegs. This portion took the longest time for me to fold. To make the scroll at the end of the neck, I used a bit of water to wet and then roll in. I have clicked a few pictures from different angles hoping to capture the complexity and beauty of this design.

Violin’s Peg box Details

The diagrams to this design can be found in Origami Tanteidan Magazine #143 (which you can back order from Japan Origami Academic Society at the time of writing this post) and you can also check out JM Origami tutorial for this. I used double tissue paper to fold this Violin – a single sheet each of brown and black tissue paper stuck together using MC. I then cut the prepared paper to the 1:4 ratio which is needed to start folding. To shape the violin, I used clips to hold the curves and folds in place and kept it overnight to set. The paper I used was Darice 100-Piece Premium Quality Tissue Gift Wrapping Paper and I used Lineco Methyl Cellulose Adhesive to prepare the double tissue paper.

Violin’s Side View

You are always in my heart (Design by Andrey Lukyanov)

You are always in my heart (Design by Andrey Lukyanov)

Happy Mother’s Day!

This year I celebrate my first mother’s day being a new mom and for it, I received a load of flowers from my daughter 🙂

I have been thinking for quite a while on what model to fold to mark this occasion and I finally settled on Andrey Lukyanov’s You are always in my heart. This is a great little design to fold and the two-toned color hearts makes it look very nice. This model has a quick folding sequence and if one is crisp in making their folds, they’ll be rewarded with a perfect little double heart model.

I used Japanese Washi Paper to fold this design and I wanted the plain color side as the smaller heart, specifically. I thought the transition from a single shade of color to a heart of vibrant colors would signify a heart bursting of love. The size of the paper I used was 4 inches and there is no requirement for a fine or thin sheet of paper to fold this model. Kami or regular origami paper works best and you can play around with the color combinations. The size of the finished model is approz 2 inches.

How to fold this model:

Mariano Zavala has created a clear and concise tutorial on Andrey Lukyanov’s You are always in my heart. He has explained the steps really well and I found this tutorial very easy to follow.