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Welcome Marquee DIY

Need an extra pop for an upcoming event? This DIY marquee idea will do it!

A few years ago I pinned this beautiful Vintage Marquee from Oh Happy Day because I knew it would come in handy for all the decorating projects I do for VBS, fundraising, and parties.

I created a really cool ENTER marquee for our 2013 VBS and guess what? I broke the lights in the process of pushing them through the cardboard. Ugh. We never did get to use it. But I learned to be much more careful the second time around. Word to the wise. Be careful with the bulbs!

You will need:

  • Cardboard or another thick and sturdy material – I chose cardboard because it’s free
  • hot glue & hot glue gun
  • strips of newspaper
  • water and flour for paper mache – paper mache recipes
  • paint – crafting paint or spray paint
  • 25 ct globe lights
  • Xacto knife
  • Stencil
  • pen or sharpee
  • yard stick

I started by printing my letters, cutting them out, and tracing them on the cardboard. I then cut out two sets of letters in cardboard. One for the front and one set for the back.

Plug the hot glue gun in to heat while you do this next step.

Using a yard stick, I measured one inch strips onto my cardboard. Cut the strips. You are going to need quite a few of them. These are what will go around the outside of your letters.


This next step can be a little tricky. Take one of your cardboard strips and wrap it around the outside of your first letter. It takes a bit of practice to get the edges around the letters just right. Don’t stress over it, you will get it! Once you have the edge strips looking how you want, hot glue them to the back of your letter, get as close to the edge of the outside letter as you can. Do this with one full set of letters. Do not hot glue the back of the letters on, yet!

Rip up strips of newspaper and whip up a batch of paper mache glue. If you feel like your letters are sturdy enough, you can skip this whole paper mache step. Mine were not quite strong enough to take the beating I knew they’d encounter as I pack them around from event to event.

Paper mache your letters, leaving the back portion open. Let dry completely. Drying time can take up to 24 hours – longer if it is cold or damp where they are placed to dry.

Once dry, paint your letters. I used craft paint but you can use spray paint as well. Allow to dry completely.


Now it’s time to punch your holes for your lights. Before you make any holes, use your lights and measure the distance between each light bulb. You will want to measure their placement inside your letters, otherwise you will end up with extra holes and lights that won’t reach. *Ask me how I know 🙂 If your placement is off, just paper mache over the holes and repaint.

Once you have figured out the bulb placement, use your xacto knife and poke a hole, going through the front of the letter. Poking through the front keeps your letters looking clean on the front side. I cut a slit with the razor blade and then used the butt of my xacto knife to push through the layers of paper mache and cardboard. It left a perfect hole for the bulbs.

To attach your lights, remove each bulb from the cord. Push the bulb through the front of the letter and reattach it to the cord. You may have to cut away some of the frayed cardboard on the backside to get the bulb and cord to fit back together properly. Tuck the extra cord into the back of your letters as you go.


Once all of your bulbs are inside your marquee, plug it in and make sure your lights are working.

Test your marquee to see if it will stand up on it’s own or if it will need to lean against something to stand. My marquee must have the support of an object behind it to stand. If I really wanted it to stand on it’s own, I could place a small baggie of rice in the bottom of each letter to stabilize it. I may do this at some point.

You can add the backs to your letters now. I hot glued mine on the back to the cardboard strips. You can skip this step if you want, but it does stabilize and add strength to the marquee


Tada! You’re amazing! And your friends will think you are amazing! Enjoy your marquee!


What word would you want as a marquee? Tell us about it in the comments. Do you like this idea? Give it a like, share it on Facebook, and Pin It to Pinterest. Hover over the image and the share buttons will pop up 🙂

Until next time, grab that hot glue gun and

PS – This makes a pretty cool looking decoration when it isn’t lit up! Would you agree?


Linking up at:

Made with Happy Caffeinated Crafters Link-Up Party

Maz Kwok

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Tidy Mom

 Simply Designing


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