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.