DIY Chalkboard Cake Toppers

DIY Chalkboard Cake ToppersWell, the semester has begun and though I wish I was creating blog content all the live long day, I’ve been back to teaching and guiding students through their first few weeks of gender & women’s studies classes. For the first time in a long time, I’m teaching some intro-level classes, which are my absolute favorite. Observing students as their minds are being blown is just the very best feeling as a teacher. These are the perks!

Before things really got underway this semester, though, I celebrated my birthday last week with a friend whose big day is just a day before mine. Surrounded by friends and loved ones, we drank champagne and ate an amazing Italian-inspired meal, al fresco, in our beautifully decorated side yard. It was quite a time! For dessert, I made us a giant cheesecake, covered in the season’s sweetest strawberries, and used these easy DIY cake toppers I had made the week before to make it extra special.

DIY Chalkboard Cake ToppersIf you follow my Instagram feed or checked out the highlights from Charlotte & Katie’s wedding feature, these may look familiar to you. I made Charlotte & Katie a pair for their wedding cake back in July and because they were just so easy (and almost criminally inexpensive), I followed up with a set for myself. What’s wonderful about them is that they’re reusable – the white paint that spells out your message of “Happy Birthday!”, or what have you, is written on a chalkboard paint background with a chalk marker! With a damp cloth, the slate is wiped clean and they’re ready to go for your next happy, cake-included, occasion.

DIY Chalkboard Cake ToppersYou’re limited here really only in terms of what shapes of wood you can find. While I’ve come across other shapes and sizes at Joann’s, these hearts are my favorite and are most applicable to a variety of holidays and events. Chalkboard paint, though, is available in so many different colors now and what you use as an accent color for the backs, edges, and skewers is entirely up to you. Now that I’m thinking of it, I wish I had tracked down a hot pink chalkboard paint because, paired with the metallic gold accent, it would have been a femme birthday dream come true!

DIY Chalkboard Cake ToppersThis is an easy craft that you can pull together in about an hour total, that costs only a few dollars, and will add a really personal touch to any future party. Arrange them on cakes, pies, cupcakes, and even stuck in the middle of a mound of cookies. They’re a sweet addition to any dessert and something you, or your loved one, can hang onto as a memory afterward or re-use in the future.
DIY Chalkboard Cake Toppers

DIY Chalkboard Cake Toppers

Supplies:
Two wooden cut outs in any shape; I used hearts from Joann Fabrics, which were under $1 each!
Chalkboard paint
Acrylic paint in color of your choice for backs, edges, and skewers
2 wooden skewers
Hot glue sticks & glue gun
Foam paint brush, about 1″ wide
Small thin-tipped paint brush, s square tip works best
Chalk marker, or regular chalk

Directions:
On a flat surface lined with newspaper, paint the backs and edges of your shapes with your accent color of choice; I used the foam brush for the back and the thin-tipped brush for the edges. If you get a slight bit on the front, just wipe it off as best you can, but don’t fret – the chalkboard paint will cover all. After the accent color has mostly dried – about 10 minutes – apply a second coat to backs and edges. When the second coat dries either move on to the following step or add a third coat if needed. Using the thin-tipped brush follow your shape and paint a perimeter on the front of the piece with the chalkboard paint so that you create a margin and don’t risk painting over the edge that you just painted with your accent color. Using the wider foam brush, fill in the shape with a coat of chalkboard paint and allow to dry. Follow this step for the front of the shape for at least three coats in order to get a truly opaque surface. Allow to dry completely. If need be, touch up the edge with your accent color.

When your shapes are completely painted and dried, heat your glue gun and ready your two wooden skewers. If you choose to paint the skewers in your accent color, painting them when you paint the shapes is the best plan, as painting them once they’re glued to the shapes is a bit awkward. Flip your shapes over so that the back side is facing up. Apply a small, 1/2″ or so line of hot glue to the back of the shape and press the top, non-pointed, side of the skewer into the glue. If the glue is not enough to encase the top of the skewer, apply a bit more glue over top so that it is covered. Do the same to the other shape & skewer and allow to dry completely. Hot glue is usually clear, so depending on your preference, you can either leave as is or, if you’d like, once the glue is hardened and cooled, you can use your accent color to paint over the glue and make it blend a bit more seamlessly. This step is optional.

Once the skewers are dried, the cake toppers are ready for use. Use a chalk marker for easy, seamless writing (or regular chalk if preferred) and spell out your message of celebration. Chalk markers can be easily removed with a damp cloth (avoid paper towel, as it catches on the paint and the wood). Allow surface to dry before re-printing.

DIY Wedding Binder

DIY Wedding BinderLast Friday, one of my dearest friends, Charlotte, married her longtime sweetheart, Katie, in an intimate courthouse ceremony. The bride was beautiful, the butch groom very dapper, and all attending guests were there to share in what was a really lovely afternoon. Since Charlotte and Katie’s families are spread out, they are doing things a bit non-traditionally, but no less thoughtfully. While their formal ceremony was Friday, they will be having a party in July for friends and loved ones in the Twin Cities and then another with family at a gathering between their two homes come the fall. So many opportunities to celebrate!

DIY Wedding BinderOver the next month and a half, Charlotte and I will, largely, be planning what their celebration for friends will look like and, chances are, you’ll see some of the projects we undertake for it here. What a happy way to cultivate blog content at the same time as organizing what will be an amazingly fun, love-filled day! My Pinterest boards and I are already bursting with ideas!

DIY Wedding BinderPlanning a party, even one that is informal and fairly small in size for a wedding celebration (about 40 people), is a lot of work and, herein, my Virgo brain sees an opportunity for organization. Enter: The Wedding Binder. A wedding binder is many things I love all rolled into one: structured, informative, tidy, an excuse to buy cute office supplies, etc. I know that holding up these kinds of qualities probably makes me sound like a total stiff (do people still say that?), but it’s only in project planning that I hold so dearly to these ways. How else will one remember if they sent a “thank you” card to their aunt or remember where they put the receipt from the caterer? If you have a wedding binder, everything has a place, eliminating one stressor right off the bat.

DIY Wedding BinderCould you buy a wedding binder? Of course, but there are so many templates online to make your own, and now this one, that printing out some pages and putting them in a binder along with some dividers is time well spent. Not only does it save you money, but making your own wedding binder also allows you to really customize it to your needs. When I made this binder for Charlotte and Katie, for example, I didn’t have to include space on the “Expenses” sheet for ceremony costs because, aside from the marriage license, there weren’t any.

DIY Wedding BinderCharlotte and Katie’s party, as many small weddings are, will also largely be a very DIY affair, so I knew it was also important to include space in their binder where they could collect visual ideas from magazines or Pinterest to inform future table design or what have you. I also created a section called “Team Bride” where Charlotte can identify friends in her network who she can ask to assist with parts of the party, i.e. here she can make a note that our other friend, Katie, will do Charlotte’s hair and make-up that day. Since music is so vitally important to the small, DIY wedding, I made sure to also create a “Soundtrack” page where they could jot down ideas that came to them for “must-haves” to hear on the day of the reception. On their wedding site, Charlotte and Katie asked guests to suggest songs when they submit their RSVP – a great idea! – so this is a landing place for those selections too.

DIY Wedding BinderWhile this binder has largely been geared toward Charlotte and Katie specifically, I’ve kept the average small wedding planner in mind as I’ve crafted this, so the sheets, which I’ve made available as free printables below, should be helpful to lots of folks. Take a look!:

Guest List
Gift Log
Vendors
Expenses
Menu
Seating Arrangements
Team Bride
Soundtrack
Shopping List

For smaller, DIY parties like this one, keeping organized, budgeting well, and relying on friends for additional help and services depending on where their strengths lie are all key to pulling off a beautiful day. To those of you out there who have planned (or are planning – congratulations!) a small, but special day, what other tips do you have to keep everything and everyone reigned in and organized leading up to, and on the day of, the main event?