When my two girls were small (3 & 6) I started making banners for their birthdays. The banners were large (as all banners should be) and didn’t just proclaim “happy birthday”. I drew a retrospect of all the major activities the birthday girl had participated in over the previous year. (Since they were small the pictures then were limited to roller skates and bikes.). I used simple stick figures and line drawings. As they grew so did the pictures and they would identify everything they did that year. My girls loved them.
It’s now a family ritual – me making a banner for my grown daughters and them reviewing their year. When my granddaughter was born I added third banner for her.
A couple of years ago I got a wonderful surprise. Both of my girls have been saving their birthday banners for years! They cherish them as record of their lives.
Judy’s birthday was around the corner and I decided to make one for her. Here it is finished, and next I’ll show you step by step how to make your own:
FIRST: Make a list of the birthday person’s major and minor events in the past year
- Trips – local or far away, short or long.
- New skills – learning to ride a bike, taking up knitting.
- Events. – big or small/positive or negative – a new job, school milestones, catching a cold, a pandemic lockdown . . .
- Routine activities- work, school, walking the dog, doing yoga, riding a bike, hiking, reading, swimming . . .
(In Judy’s case a lot is routine since she’s been in self-imposed Covid isolation!)
When I first started making the Birthday Banners I didn’t track events and just brainstormed everything I could think of. Now, It is easier and I make a simple list, writing down events as they occur, to keep track all year. You can make a list or calendar notes – both work.
SECOND: Organize the events on a timeline for the ones that are not routine.
THIRD: Gather materials
- Roll of butcher paper – This is my favorite as it makes it easy to roll up, like a scroll, and tie it with a ribbon OR
- Poster board OR
- Several sheets of computer paper taped together. When finished fold like an accordion book.
- Pencil, markers, paint, crayons, colored pencils (whatever you choose to use to color in your stick-sketches).
(At first I used colored marker pens, but now I start with pencil-in case I make a mistake.)
FOURTH: Write happy birthday and their name. Leave room above and below to draw the events.
- If you make bubble letters or outlines of the letters you can decorate the inside of each letter.
- Plan where you will put the major events – where there are large white spaces.
- Add stick figure drawings – in the order in which they occurred or simply scattered on the banner.
- I often add small repetitive items, like musical notes or in this case Covid masks. Sometimes I will sprinkle small hearts or birds across the whole banner.
FIFTH: Draw stick figures, symbols, label the events, ( I do this when I think my drawing isn’t clear).
SIXTH: fill in with color.
- If you used pencil to draw, go over the lines with dark marker or ink.
- Use colored markers (easiest and quickest), paint, crayons or colored pencils.