DIY: Make A Banner Using Old Maps

I recently posted about my Best Party Purchase, a set of letters and images that can be strung and re-strung on a cord to make beautiful banners for any occasion. But what if you have a super specific theme and that look just doesn’t jive? Why not save a couple of bucks (and a boat load of your valuable time!) and try to make something instead? It shows that you are a committed host who genuinely cares about every detail going into the occasion. Take, for example, a retirement party hosted at my friend’s parents’ place this past weekend: the theme surrounded the couple’s desire to travel together in retirement. So, naturally, we made a banner out of old sailing maps I had lying around the apartment!

What You’ll Need:

– Maps – any kind from any place – the more specific the theme, the more specific the maps
– Elmer’s Repositionable Letters (or cut out/print off your own letters to use)
– 1 piece of card stock (for your flag stencil)
– Scissors
– Glue stick
– Ruler
– Twine
– Pencil

map tools

First, you will need to make your flag stencil. Decide how big you would like each flag to be and, using your trusty ruler, outline your flag shape. Cut it out. Mark two dots, equidistant from each side of your flag – this is where you will poke the holes for your twine.

with holes

Next, you’re going to want to saddle the top of your flag right up to the edge of your map. This way you guarantee a straight top to each flag and ensure that you are using your map supply efficiently. Using a pencil, trace your flag stencil onto the map, cut it out, and do it again!


Using your glue stick (or repositionable adhesive letters) affix each letter to each section of your map.

After you have poked holes in each of your flags, feed the twine through the front portion of the flag, around the back, and out the other hole. To ensure your flags hang evenly in line, you can try alternating the way the twine is fed through each flag- See below for example.

close up

And that’s it!  Make sure you have enough slack on each side of your banner, before you cut it (!), for hanging purposes. Affix your banner to walls and other areas using adhesive clips or hooks. You can also try tying the ends of extra twine into lovely little bows for an added touch.

final copy

The Best Party Purchase

I purchased this kit on a whim and have never been so happy with something so simple. It was New Years Eve and, after realizing none of our friends would bite the bullet, we decided to throw a party at the last minute. As a compulsively organized human this irked me, but I knew that with a couple of good lists and a bit of hustle we could pull it off. I farmed out the grocery shopping and LCBO run to the fiancée (he did have the car..and the muscles, after all!) and I set off in search of the ‘fussier’ items needed to throw a proper New Years Eve party. When I took off that day I had one goal in mind: most, if not all, of the items purchased were to be multi-seasonal and multi-purpose so that we could use them at any future do’s and in our every day life.

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On a mission for decorations, exploding table crackers, and (obviously) old timey noise makers, I found myself happily lost in one of my favourite stationery stores, The Papery. It was there, in a way back, perfectly lit and merchandized corner that I discovered the magical sorcery that is the Theatre of Dreams Garlands by Wendy Addison. (Available for purchase here.) At just $20, I knew that I had found a party accessory that would be well loved and well used in our house on many occasions for many years.

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The kit comes with an extremely long and reusable cord, 80 assorted cardboard tiles: 4 of each letter in the alphabet in 4 different fonts, several ballet dancers, jesters, and what appears to be a well dressed monk. There is also an amazing array of circus animals featuring words like “wondrous” and “fantastic” printed on scrolls. The colour scheme is mildly girly but mostly whimsical and gender neutral, which is great as it is not limiting in the types of events the set can decorate. This set is by far the best party accessory allowing for quickly crafted and beautifully personalized banners for any occasion – making you look like the tireless hostess every time!

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