Creating a portable paper plate backdrop
Backdrops really make-or-break a dessert table. They can add so much texture and color, with relatively little money. Unless the wall behind your table is the ideal color or pattern, you’re going to have to fashion a creative backdrop that won’t break the bank.
There are TONS of backdrop ideas on pinterest. Most of them work really well if they don’t need to be transported. But what if you want a FAB party on a farm? Or at a playground? Or you’re having the party at another indoor location? You’ll need to configure your backdrop to match outdoor conditions or venue restrictions (some places won’t let you put anything on the walls…not even the non-destructive 3M hooks).
Today we’ll look at the square paper plate backdrop. Spoonful does a great tutorial if you’re constructing your backdrop in the same location as your party. Check it out here: http://spoonful.com/parties/how-to-make-paper-plate-backdrop
I needed something I could travel with that wouldn’t take up the entire back end of my Ford Expedition. Plus I have very limited work space at home and having a 6’x 6’ foam core piece in my living room wasn’t an option. Our party was at a local photo studio and I was only going to have one hour to set up. I needed something easy to assemble as well.
A few years ago I constructed (rather, my HUSBAND constructed!) a PVC pipe backdrop. Fledgling photographers use these backdrops to get their portfolios off the ground. I used the same idea for party backdrops. It takes a little time to build and tear down at each event, but we’ve used it for so many things. It travels and stores well too. Another bonus is that you can make the length adjustable. Mine will adjust between 6’ and 8’ depending on the connectors and the length of the pipe. You can find the instructions to make your own here: http://www.diyphotography.net/diy_studio_equipment_backdrop_stand Build this thing while your kids are young and you’ll get use out of it all the way up until their high school graduation party!
Now on to the paper plates. If you’re lucky, your local dollar store will have the colors you need on hand. For my iCarly party, that wasn’t the case, so I headed to the party supply store to get what I needed. The end result was four packs of paper plates, with 20 plates per package. Total cost was around $25. It might sound pricey, but if you were to cover this much square footage with fabric, your costs would probably be higher. Each plate measures 10.5” square.
I knew my table would be 6’ long and my backdrop is about 7.5’ tall. I’m not a big fan of measuring, so I eyeballed it. Not an exact science, but I was under a deadline! I used 4” wide ribbon (leftover from the pew bows my mother insisted upon for my wedding 11 years ago) and simply hot glued the plate to the ribbon. If you didn’t have the ribbon, you could also use cut poster board or craft paper. I left about 3-4” at the beginning and end of my plate rows so that I could wrap and tape the ribbon onto the backdrop. Each ribbon had 6 plates, easily covering the height of the backdrop. The plates were laid out edge-to-edge, with no gaps. I made a total of 7 rows (2 purple, 2 teal, 2 pink, and 1 orange).
Because they’re adhered to a ribbon, they had some flexibility. You can stack them and a single person can carry all 7 at one time. I didn’t want to bend them too much, but this way they could fit into a car or trunk without taking up a ton of space. That would be tough to accomplish if the plates are glued to foam core, with those pieces taped together.
Once we were at the party location, my husband set up the backdrop and I started hanging the plate rows. I used the top ribbon to roll around the edge of the pipe and tape it to the back of the plate. This way I could still slide it along the pipe to adjust for straightness. Since I was indoors, I skipped this step, but if I was outside, I would’ve taped the bottom ribbon to the center bar or weighted it in some way. This way, the plates wouldn’t act like kites and dismantle my pretty table.
I ended up using 6 of the 7 rows, so the symmetry was a bit off. But once you add a banner and the other decorations, it was almost impossible to tell. With a little planning, this backdrop is an easy addition to your next party!