1. Pick up a of wooden plaque from your favourite craft store. Make sure that it's big enough for the child's name in a readable font. Lightly sand the plaque so that you don't have any little bumps or slivers (I skipped this step, and wish I hadn't). Paint the plaque whatever colour you'd like to use as a background. Let it dry, and maybe do a second coat.
I left the middle of the black one blank because I was planning on using a light colour for the name and didn't want to have to paint it again and again. Upon reflection, that might have been easier, as I had to go in with a tiny brush with the background colour after the name was dry. But I enjoy that kind of detail work - if you don't, just paint the whole thing and be prepared to go over the letters a few times.
2. Find a font that you like, that will be easily readable, and fit nicely in the middle of the board. Print it out, and make sure that it fits the way you want it. (You could also pick up some stickers or stencils while you're at the craft store if you want.) You could also go the freehand route. These are going to be hanging in the same hallway, I wanted some uniformity.
3. Cut out your stencils. Since this is just printer paper, I put strips of packing tape on both sides of the paper before I started cutting to reinforce the stencil. Make sure to leave some of the original stencil intact to stabilise any wobbly bits, and make sure that the centers of the letters stay in place. *Make sure that you start out with a sharp blade in your craft knife!
|Those little black bits are what I'm talking about.|
5. You're going to want to leave this to dry for a while. So this is a great time to think about how you want to decorate these things. I already had an idea in mind for both, but there are also great inspirational images all over the internet.
The best thing about making your own is that you can decorate them any way you want. I did most of mine free hand, but it's also a great idea to draw out your design on a piece of paper so that you can check positioning. I wasn't sure about monkey placement, so I drew a couple and moved them around until I was happy with their positioning before painting. (Again, if you're more comfortable, you can get stencils and stickers from the craft store.) Fiddle around with placement until you're happy, then draw your design lightly onto the plaque with a pencil. Then paint away!
6. Once your designs are final and completely dry, make sure to put on a couple of coats of a sealant over the whole plaque.
Et Voila! A lovely, handmade gift that looks like it was way harder to do than it was!