Step by Step Guide to Hosting a Sign Party

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Today, I’ve got a special guest on Cutting for Business! Welcome Sarah Strunk – a longtime blog reader and owner of Simply Sarah. She’s sharing her method of hosting sign painting parties with her Silhouette Cameo (or Cricut). After you read this post, pick up her new ebook with more information about hosting a party with your Silhouette at this link. I’ll let her take over:

I’ve known for a long time I wanted to do sign parties. I love those paint your own canvas nights, but lets be honest, I’m not great at freehand – that’s why I have a Silhouette! I knew parties to paint stuff I ACTUALLY wanted to hang on my walls would be a great idea. Logistically though, how was I going to pull it off? A few months ago I finally just decided to grab my closest girlfriends and give it a spin. If it was awful they wouldn’t hate me and I needed a easy group to practice on. Definitely do a few trial runs!

Pricing

  • I charge $40 per person, but am raising the party rates to $45 per person.
  • It costs me $10 per board for each person. That figure does not include time – the prep work is fairly labor intensive, but when you love what you do it doesn’t really feel like work!

Sign Ups­

  • I create a Facebook Event. Then, add the people who want to come and post a picture of what you’ll be making. Make a demo yourself, don’t do a mock up. You want to be able to see how long it takes you to make it and you want to have an example at the party. Get everyone signed up and collect payment UP FRONT.
  • Make payments non refundable or tell them it’s non refundable but can be applied to a future party if they need to cancel.
  • When signing up, I got everyone’s last names and established dates.

Prep Work

  • Head to Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Menards and grab 1×4’s in pine. (Alternatively, you could use pallets but I don’t have patience for that and wanted them to take stain/paint easily.)
  • I cut the boards down into 24 inch pieces so that I could easily just cut 12×24 sheets for the stencil.
  • I then planked them together making 12×24 inch plank boards. I just used strips that I also found in the wood department at Lowes and cut those down. I used 1 1⁄2 in screws on the boards.
  • It takes me an hour or 2 to plank 10 boards. That includes cutting, sanding, and planking. TIP: Don’t offer varying sizes. The process goes quickly because you’re doing all one size.
  • Alternative: Instead of planks for your first sign, you could buy larger wood planks and cut them down. I did that for my first few parties and it was great!
    Step by Step Guide to Hosting a Paint Your Own Sign Party with your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut - by cuttingforbusiness.com

Creating the Stencil­

  • I created a stencil in 2 parts, using Oracal 631 vinyl. The first stencil was the big last initial. Then, I made a stencil of each person’s last names. Cut each last name on a single 12×24 sheet. This is easy for them to line up on their board and everything will be centered. Step by Step Guide to Hosting a Paint Your Own Sign Party with your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut - by cuttingforbusiness.com

Party Day

  • Set up folding tables or your own tables and lay down drop clothes. Purchase foam brushes, burnishing squeegees, exacto knives, staining sponges, rags, and paper plates (for paint).
  • I highly recommend hosting the party at your own house, that way you have everything you need. I did a few parties at the hostesses’ home and it was chaotic and I always was forgetting something.

At the Party

  • I had each person bring a snack and I provided wine (you can also do BYOB). You’ll need something to do while you wait for paint to dry – that’s why you need snacks and drinks!
  • After everyone visited for a bit we sat down to start the signs.
  • I offered 3 stain options: Gray, dark walnut, and a whitewash technique with antiquing glaze on top. At my last party, most picked the dark walnut with two opting for the whitewash. I poured some stain into little cups and had staining sponges I got from Lowes. Be sure to watch everyone as they put on the stain so it doesn’t go on too heavy or it won’t dry. I went by everyone after they stained and wiped off excess with a paper towel. I then helped the whitewash folks get their first coats done. I had a hair dryer on hand to help with drying times but we didn’t need it. After about 30 minutes, everyone’s boards felt dry so we moved on.
  • We then laid down the last initial, You can just show everyone how to peel their stencil from the backing paper and then lay it down on the board, have painters tape and a ruler handy as it will help attendees center theirs on their board. You then want to show everyone how to smooth out the bumps, and make sure all the edges are down really well. I double checked each person’s board to make sure the stencils had a good seal.
  • Then we took foam brushes and sponged on our paint in light coats! I use Waverly brand chalk paint (available at walmart and less than $6 a jar, it goes far, and dries fast).
  • Next, take a break to let the first coat of paint dry. Chat, snack, and drink!
  • Once they letters are dry, you’re ready to go do the final step and put the family name. You’ll give everyone their stencil and you may need to help to apply it. If you have any more than 6 people you may want to have a helper to help those get stencils down and peel off transfer tape. Then, attendees will lightly sponge on their color and then peel off the stencils right away. You don’t want any of the base color coming up, so don’t leave the stencil on more than maybe 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Help everyone with any minor touchups. When you’re doing plank boards you may get slight bleeding around the planks, but you can go by with an exacto knife and scrap it and it will lift right off without messing up the stain or paint underneath.

You did it! Don’t forget to take a picture at the end. That picture is how you will get people to sign up for more parties! A note on hostesses: I find that you do not need to offer any sort of hostess reward but you can. Generally, I have no problem booking parties. In my opinion, providing hostess rewards is something that is popular with a lot of direct sale companies to help get people “in the door”.

Step by Step Guide to Hosting a Paint Your Own Sign Party with your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut - by cuttingforbusiness.com

A huge thank you to Sarah for stopping in to share her “secrets”! Please thank Sarah for stopping in by visiting her website Simply Sarah or picking up her new book. I’ve got a few other home party posts that you can read here. As always, if you loved this post, pin it or share it on Facebook by hovering over the image below or tapping it on mobile.

Step by Step Guide to Hosting a Paint Your Own Sign Party with your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut - by cuttingforbusiness.com

162 thoughts on “Step by Step Guide to Hosting a Sign Party”

      1. Hi Christine. Do you reside your contact or transfer paper? I feel like that may make it more cost effective. Just checking! Thanks

    1. Hi Michelle! To hang wooden signs, you can use a sawtooth hanger (two if it’s a large piece) or a picture hanging wire kit. Both are a few dollars at your local hardware store. Hope that helps! (I deleted your duplicate question on another post.) Christine

    2. I use command strips ….the kind that you use to hang pictures. They remind me of Velcro. There are ones that hold up to 16lbs but I weighed my board and it only weighed 2lbs.

    3. Did the vinyl stick well, even though the stain was put on just before? Was it dry enough? I am having a party and thought about staining and painting the boards ahead of time and having the party attendees put them together there. Just afraid the stain won’t be dry enough …. thoughts?

  1. What do you use to transfer the vinyl? I can’t seem to find a product that doesn’t just pull the vinyl right back up off the wood sign.
    Thank you!

  2. Love the idea of a sign party! Thank you for sharing! How do you store the vinyl after removing it from the mat and prior to the party?

    1. You can store them in a large envelope or box until you need them since they still have the paper backing on them until sign party attendees apply them. Thanks! Christine

  3. This is exactly what I’ve been wanting to make. I’m new to my Cricut machine. Could you possibly tell me how you created the stencil? Whenever I “cut” out on my cricut, it does not leave all parts of the letter – for example – the “triangle” in a A

    1. Hi Carolyn! There’s two things you can do: 1) Use a different font – for example, a stencil font. 2) When weeding your design, just be sure to not lose the small pieces like the inside of the A, O, D, P, etc. When you use transfer paper to place the design, you’ll move all the small pieces as well. After painting, remove the centers. Hope that helps!

      1. And this stain you said is water based and will dry in time during the party for the customer to finish their sign? Do you use anything to help with the “bleed?”

  4. Love these signs. I’m am the proud owner of a new silhouette cameo and I am frustrated…maybe overwhelmed.
    How did you make the stencil for the large initial??
    Would you mind sharing the type of font you used for the name?

    1. Hi Diana! The stencils are cut from vinyl, I don’t know the exact font used, but most script fonts would work well. Don’t be overwhelmed – it takes time to learn.

    2. Diana, I make a lot of stencils with scrapbook paper for sign classes on my silhouette. Then they are a one time use and very easy to use. I just make sure to fill the letters in and then do cut lines to keep the centres of the letters in so o don’t have to glue those down.

  5. I love this! I recently got a Silhouette and just starting making some signs for my home. I work with a lot of crafty people so this would be fun to do and get together. The only thing i worry about is trying to figure out the sizing of the fonts, since some of us have long names. Any tips? Since I’m still a beginner.

    Thanks!

  6. Have you ever left the vinyl lettering on the wood? Or do you need to paint it? I made one and painted the monogram and then transfered the name directly on the wood. I’ve put 4 coats of urethane on it, now I’m wondering if the vinyl letters will come up.

  7. Thank you so much for this step by step, I’ve been asked from a group of Military spouses to do something like this but I needed more information on how to go about it, this was very helpful. I hope I have the opportunity to host a party with the spouses!

  8. How do you know what color of paint or how many different colors of paint you should offer when making the sign. I know you offered 3 stain option but what about the initial and established date?

    Thanks

  9. How much time did you allow for this party in total? Planning one of these and want to have a better idea of how long it will take. Thanks for all the insight!

  10. So I’ve been trying to make signs because I love this idea and I would love to do parties! I’m having trouble getting the vinyl to stick to the stained wood. Any tricks? I’m using a tool to rub it, but it wants to stay stuck to the transfer paper.

    1. Hi Jessica! Be sure that the stain is completely dry (a day or so). Also, you can use a hair dryer to heat the vinyl up slightly to help it transfer. Hope that helps!

      1. I hope you’re still answering questions for this post! Thank you for the great information! I am having some friends over to make signs, and I did a trial run over the weekend. The stain on my board is still not dry, after 36 hours. If your parties only take a few hours, how do you get your stain to dry quick enough for them to stain it and paint it? I used an oil-based stain. Could that be the problem?

    1. You can choose whether you stain the wood, or have the attendee stain the wood. You’ll need to figure out if you have enough time for attendees to stain it themselves and dry. I’d limit the designs to 3 – 5 choices.

      1. You are a very kind, patient lady to answer all these questions that were clearly addressed in the instructions or prior questions! 🙂

  11. Hi
    The oracal vinyl you are using, did it come with the white transfer paper (I am seeing in photos people peeling off after placing the stencil)

  12. Hi Christine, what did the attendees use to smooth out the bubbles and make sure all the edges were secure? I’m looking for something inexpensive to keep supply cost down.

  13. I am not quite following what type of vinyl you used for the monogram letter and then the family name/est. Is it tacky on one side or both and come with a peel off paper on the top?

    And both are painted on right, vinyl is just used as the stencil?

  14. Hi Christine, thank you for the awesome tutorial! I have one question. Is the “The Family Name” “established 1111” vinyl, or did they paint that also?

    1. Hi Jen! Whitewash is simply a mix of lime (Masonry lime) and water. There’s a ton of recipes online. Once you mix it up, simply use a brush or roller to put it on your project. Hope that helps!

  15. You are so kind to answer all of our questions! Please pardon my ignorance but the whole transfer thing has me confused. Can you tell me when/how you add the transfer tape to the process? I assume you cut out your initials/design on the vinyl but then when is tape applied?

  16. Hi Christine, great idea..how long do you figure it takes to finish the product with approx. six people? Most people do not like doing this because they never have time to finish their craft, then it just gets put a side at home.

  17. This tutorial is wonderful and I did my first sign party last week! It was a huge hit! I bought pine boards and had attendees stain, let dry then put down the stencil but when we pulled the stencils(oracal 631) up some of the stain and even some of the wood came up with it. Now that I’m rereading I see where you say to not leave the stencil on longer than 10 – 15 minutes…do you think that prevents the stain from being pulled up? Most of my attendees were first time crafters and didn’t trust me when I said a little paint went a long way so I’m sure we left the stencil on longer than that, lol.

  18. Hi there, thank you so much for all of your wonderful tips. I do have a question for the vinyl 631. Do you de-stick it a little bit or put it on the board just as it is? I sometimes have trouble with is peeling paint or stain. Just curious what your process is for that.

    Thanks in advance,
    Becky

  19. Hi, so it sounds like you cut all the stencils out before the party? I was thinking of doing a vinyl party for my daughter’s birthday and wanted to let the girls pick their fonts and designs etc, but thought this would take FOREVER for them each do it. But if it cut it out beforehand it would take 5 seconds for them to put it on whatever their item was! Ideas?

    1. Hello! Yes, I precut all of them, but didn’t weed them. If your daughter is like mine, picking out a font will definitely take all day (and probably then some!) Have you thought about doing canvas? Cut all the designs (perhaps you could theme them to your party?), have the kids weed the outside, put the design onto the canvas (for easier application, use Mod Podge on the canvas before the party), have the kids paint the canvas (over the vinyl), then after the paint is dry they remove the vinyl. They would look similar to this (not my link) – but have whatever design you created: http://justcallmechris.blogspot.com/2011/08/canvas-silhouette-updates.html. Hope that gives you an idea!

  20. Hello Christine. This article is awesome! Thanks for sharing! I am wanting to start hosting sign parties, but am having trouble getting it out there for people to know about. Do you have any recommendations or how to advertise and get yourself out there?

  21. Do you re use the vinyl? I love making signs but usually use the vinyl directly on my signs but sometimes have trouble keeping the vinyl stuck to different surfaces I never though of using them as stencils. Do you use a different type of transfer tape? the cricut one is super sticky and sometimes takes off the stain on my wood pieces.

  22. Christine
    I am.so grateful for this article. I am planning my first party in a month or so. My question to you is, what price do you charge for people to attend/participate in these parties. I just want to make sure I cover my costs and time. Im so excited about doing them that I dont want to get so caught up in the fun of teaching people that I lose out on it. Seems the way it happens to me.
    Thank you for the helpful advice.

  23. Hi there! Loved this article. I have recently purchased a silhouette cameo and I have one issue I cannot seem to resolve. When I stain my wood and try to apply my vinyl to stencil it NEVER sticks, I’ve never had a problem with paint but with stain it will not work. Do you have any tips? Thank you

  24. Loved this article thank you! I’m still not understanding the transfer paper. Don’t you just use the vinyl adhesive straight onto the wood? Also, what about designing your own plastic stencils with the cameo? I have created some but am wondering if they will work properly for pallet signs. I would have to really tape them down huh? What do you think? Because I was thinking that would save money on having to keep buying vinyl.

    1. Transfer paper is used to transfer the vinyl – it’s quite difficult to peel the vinyl off the backing and place it down properly. Feel free to use a plastic stencil that is taped down.

  25. Hello! I’ve been searching everywhere and I see you hold a class. Do you offer an online class or tutorial on how to do this? I’ve searched everywhere.

  26. I was considering doing something like this, definitely have a couple questions….do you pre-weed the vinyl? if not do you do that for the guests or have them do it?

  27. For the final size of the board is it 12 wide and 24 long? My 1×4 are a little short (3 3/8 inches) and 24 looks enormous. Do you just eyeball it? If it was true to size wouldn’t it be 16 inches x 24 inches long? Sorry for asking just don’t want to cut before I’m sure. Thanks so much for all of the tips and help.

  28. Also so just so I’m clear, youvsre using an adhesive vinyl to make the stencils? Adhering it to the board snd then peeling it off after painting?

  29. I am so looking forward to your class at the All Things Silhouette conference in June! Loved reading this tutorial because I will already understand your steps. And the class is filledl so I feel very lucky that I was able to sign up for it. I took it because I want to start making signs.

  30. hi there
    I ordered your how to host a party book . I did receive it but before I could download it on my computer or even really take a look at it I have lost it. Is there anyway for it to be resent?

    Thank you so much
    Wendy Jones

  31. I have a question? Do you window the design or just leave it? I’m very new to all this and want to start making signs. I have only mad t-shirts.

  32. I noticed in your steps that after you put on the initial you waited for it to dry and then added the vinyl stencil. Did you also paint their last names, etc or did you just use vinyl to stay on the board? I’m working on hosting a party for a charity event and I’m trying to make it the most cost effective and a fun event. If they only end up painting the Letter, then it probably will be a fast event, right? We want to let them paint their last names, etc. Thoughts? Thanks so much!

  33. What type of stain do you use at sign parties? I stained (oil based) some boards, let them dry over night but when removing the vinyl (831), it pulled off the wood and paint! Thanks!

  34. Hi Christine! Thanks for your awesome tutorial! Have you ever used freezer paper as your stencil? Looking for the cheapest method. Someone said you could iron freezer paper onto wood but haven’t tried it. My freezer paper ripped when I tried cutting it. Any thoughts?

    1. I’ve made freezer paper shirts, but not wood. I can’t imagine that you’d be able to get a good enough seal with the freezer paper to prevent bleeding, but you could always try it out.

  35. Hi Christine!
    I am wondering if there are copyright issues when using the Cricut designs to teach a sign painting class. Can you use any design or do you need to purchase a special commercial license? TIA!

  36. What would you suggest to use if I would like to put a clear, glossy coating on the design after everything is finished to sort of “seal” everything in?

  37. I went through all your comments and didn’t find an answer to my question. What happens if someone messes up? I would hold the party in my house so I guess I would go make a new stencil?

    1. You’d want to have a few extra stencils on hand. However, even when I teach sign parties with hundreds of attendees – I hae yet to have anyone mess up beyond the point where I can assist them in fixing it.

  38. What is the best way to “clean up” the bleed around the edges? For example the board is stained a walnut color & was stenciled with white chalk paint. I know chalk paint is a bit more fool proof but I have never attempted the stencil & I am super nervous! Thanks!

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