© 2012 photobookgirl

Photo Book Baby Turns One! Creative Uses for Photos to Customize Your Party Decor (Part 1)



As you probably can figure out from my blog, I love, love, love photos. So, you can imagine that I was so excited to plan Photo Book Baby’s first birthday party and his photos were going to play a central part of his party. To tell the truth, we almost didn’t have a party (beyond our immediate family and grandparents), because the hubs and I knew our little guy would be too young to remember it, and it seemed to require a lot of planning for a kid’s party, but alas, we decided to go moderately all out. Well I should say he decided to go moderately all out, whereas I deep inside wanted to go ALL OUT! ha ha… (Moms you know what I mean!)  I know my husband must have been shaking his head at all the late nights I pulled while our little guy was asleep, doing crafts, playing on Photoshop and collecting ideas on Pinterest (that site is ridiculously addicting), but in the end, I’m happy with how all the party decor turned out. Besides photobooking, I love interior design and design in general, so it really was a labor of love.  What’s more is that I planned for our party decor to live on as design decor for our home. So after the party, these custom photo projects will have another life. I love repurposing!

So here’s the photo ideas I incorporated into the party decor.

The Theme

Our party theme was storybooks. That’s one thing my husband and I thought was important, was to pick a theme that appealed or related in some way to our baby, but what does a one-year old really like anyway? We agreed that he can’t get enough of two things: 1) books; and 2) ceiling fans. Gee don’t you wonder why the book theme won out?

The Invitation

I envisioned making a invitation, with a picture of Photo Book Baby, but I wanted to go custom. I went to one of my favorite digital scrapbooking site’s – After 5 – and tried to find some scrapbooking kits that would fit with a story book theme. I used several kits: Let the Story Begin and It’s Your Special Day by Emeto; I Love Pink Alpha by Lily Designs; and Born to Party and Sing Me To Sleep by NLD. These are some talented designers. I would love to be able to create these myself, but I’m not an artist. I don’t let that keep me from being creative however, so these digital scrapbooking kits bridge the gap. I came up with this 5 x 7 inch invitation and printed it with UPrinting.com.  The concept is what I’ll call “cute surrealism” with a touch of “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”. I bought medium blue envelopes from Amazon and cute Pixar stamps from USPS and sent them off.

custom birthday invite

Signature Canvas

I wrote an earlier post on how to make a custom canvas print to create a memorable and unique keepsake of the event. I repurposed the same image I designed for the invitation, made some tweaks and then added two large blank book images for our guests to sign. Basically I made a “guest book” on the canvas. I chose black, dark brown and medium blue ultra fine point Sharpies.


As mentioned, this party item will do double duty. It will go up on Photo Book Baby’s nursery wall where he can have fun looking at all the interesting objects and colorful shapes. I can already tell he’s very visual – he loves to point at all the pictures on his walls and if we ask him, “where’s the airplane or where’s the moon?” he can point them out.  When I showed the canvas to him, my little guy kept excitedly gesturing at himself! When he’s older he can enjoy the wonderful messages our friends and family wrote for him.

By the way, there are always a ton of canvas deals going on, as well as lots of canvas groupons!

Stand-in Photo Cutout

This is one of my favorite ideas that I came up with for the party. I was trying to think of unique ways to incorporate the book theme, so I thought about making a giant storybook that the kids could pose with. As soon as I saw the large cardboard box the signature canvas came shipped in, I knew it would prove useful in some way so I set it aside, but I didn’t know quite how to execute my vision. I also wanted something more interactive along the lines of a photo booth rather than something too stationary, but I didn’t want to do a photo booth. One night I got a flash of inspiration and decided to make a book cover with a cut out for our guests to pop their heads into. I looked online and saw that they were called “standees”, “cardboard standups” or “stand-ins”, but I couldn’t find a place to order what I was looking for. Because I wanted one with a cutout for the face, I decided to make my own “stand-in”.


I printed this poster sized print – 24″ (w) x 36″ (h) at Kinkos for about $40.00.  The staff liked my poster and asked me what I planned to do with it and when I told them I was going to cut a hole in it, they thought I was nuts. But, I think our guests both young and old enjoyed it. Even Photo Book Baby (and Photo Book Mama) – posed in the stand-in too!


These party photos were taken by the uber-talented Gretchen Villaluna Baria of Moonhouse Productions. I highly, highly recommend that you hire a professional to take photos at your important events so you can actually enjoy the party and be in the pictures instead of the one taking them. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, I highly recommend Gretchen!

I hope you found some ideas to inspire you for your next party.  In Part 2 of this post, I’ll share a tutorial for my “no sew” DIY custom photo bunting flags!  If you did any photo related projects for one of your parties, I’d love to hear your ideas!




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