I waived off all those people that told me when Petit Macaron was born that the first year would go fast. At the time, each day was long and hard and I felt in over my head. Then we got into a groove and life just continued moving forward. Now all of sudden, his one year birthday has come and gone and I’m in disbelieve. How’d that happen? Now, I tell other new parents how fast time goes. Ha! I guess that’s the way of it.

It was tough having his birthday the day after New Year’s. Everyone, including me, was coming down from the holidays. We’re all just a bit partied out. Who wants to plan and go to yet another event? But, this was my little guy’s special day (and for his mama, too). We just had to celebrate. Unfortunately, both sets of grandparents live pretty far away and traveling up for a birthday party didn’t make much sense since both had recently traveled up here for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. So it was up to our friends to stand up to the plate and help us celebrate Petit Macaron’s first year.

We threw a small party at our home and invited friends to come over. We had it on New Year’s day since we already had plans for the following weekend and that seemed too far off from his actual birthday (can’t make him wait that long to smash a cake!). The birthday theme was “Winter ONEderland” so we did everything in silver, white, and blue. It turned out very cute and didn’t end up costing a fortune.

Party Table
Birthday Party Table

Speaking of cost, I really wanted one of those cool chalkboards that tells everything about the baby at one year. Except, I didn’t have time to order one and I really didn’t want to spend the money. I think they are the cutest things (I mean look at this or this – too cute, right?!). Instead, I opted to make one of my own. Here’s how I did it:

1st Bday Chalkboard
Petit Macaron’s Chalkboard (guess his true name is out of the box now!)

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1. Pick a Program:

I have a Mac so I opted to use Pages to design the board. You could probably use Keynote as well. If you have a PC, then PowerPoint would likely be your best bet. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have Photoshop then definitely go that route.

2. Decide on the Content:

I always want to jump right into projects before planning it out, but I really suggest you grab a pen and write up some of the facts and stats you want to put on the print. The prep work really helps. Here are some suggestions:

  • Favorite Foods
  • Things I Love
  • I Can Say
  • Known for His/Her
  • I Can
  • I Really Dislike – or – Please Don’t
  • Nicknames
  • I have X Teeth
  • I Weigh X Pounds
  • I Stand X High
  • I have Traveled X Miles
  • I have Lost X Socks

3. Design the Chalkboard:

a. Add the chalkboard image like this one – click here.

b. Add some structure to the page in order to organize the content.

My suggestion is to put your baby’s name on top in big letters in a fun font. I used Return to Sender font. Underneath put a banner and add a text box over its that says, “My First Birthday.”

Next create three columns. I just used the program to make the lines and circles (Insert > Shape or Line). In Pages, there is the option to change the stroke of the line, so I picked a chalkboard looking option. Similarly, with the circles, I inserted a circle and picked the dots for the border and had no fill in the circle.

Lastly, find and add some clip art for the statistics you are going to use. You can insert the image and then add a text box over the image to get the words over it. Go online to find clipart. I use a Google Images search to get a better view of the available images. Save them to your desktop and then add to the page. Also, I suggest using the word “clipart” in the search. For instance, “banner clipart” will get you some great banner options. Once you find your image, right-click it and “Save Image As…” and save it to your desktop (or location of your choice).

c. Add your content to the board.

Pull out that list of facts and stats created earlier and start adding it to the page. Spice it up by using lots of different fonts, but don’t go too crazy – just pick a handful and use them throughout the page. Check out the fonts I listed below. You might need to download some new fonts, but you can also use some of the default program fonts, too. To download a font: click on the link, download it, find it in the Downloads folder, open the file in your downloads, and click install.

Insert a text box for each phrase or word you use. This makes it much easier to add all those various fonts and organize them more freely as well. For example, “Fav Foods” is one text box as is “bambas, yogurt, cream cheese, toast & Cheerios.” Under the “I love” section, all those are different text boxes, too.

If you’re using Pages, then there is a great trick to use when inserting images. Be sure to have the image selected, then in the “Format” bar on the right select the “Image” tab. You’ll see a “Instant Alpha” button. This will help you clear the white or other background color surrounding the image.

d. Final Touches:

Add some fun touches to the print like the bunting in the corner, or a clip art that shows one of the things your baby loves. Use the arrows on your keyboard to nudge things around until you’re happy with the look. Another tip is to use the “Bring Forward” or “Send to Back” option with the text and image boxes. In Pages, you can either right-click the box to get this option or go to “Arrange” in the menu bar.

4. Save the Chalkboard:

The best way is to go to “File” and “Export To” and pick PDF or JPG (I did it as a PDF). Then save it to a flash drive or upload it (if that’s an option) to a online digital center if you plan to take it somewhere to get it printed.

5. Print it!

You can bring it to a local Office Depot, Office Max, FedEx Office, Walgreens, or Shutterfly. I used FedEx Office and had 8×10 printed and then placed it inside a frame for the party.

Everyone got a kick out of the chalkboard. The most commented was the fact we’ve only lost one sock (I’m very watchful!). This was a great way to document Petit Macaron’s development and fun to share at the party. I hope this gives you a cheaper way to create a chalkboard of your own. You could do it for every year or for first days of school. Have fun with it!

Chalkboard on Display