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A DIY Palm Leaf Backdrop That Will Transport Your Parties to the Beach

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Let there be no mistake: Party decorations are not one of life's necessities.

In my house, an average evening becomes a party when we pop a bottle of wine to go with our cheese-for-dinner. For you, a party might be any event that you invite people to, or any event you clean your room for even though you plan to keep the door closed the whole time. Some of the best parties, in fact, are the least fussed over.


However. I'd wager that a little bit of added flourish goes a very long way when it comes to parties, so long as it's not so involved that it adds to your stress. And when I saw—in the window of Ann Taylor Loft, of all places—a long paper backdrop with flopping, cut-out palm branches, I could only think how easy and festive it would be for a summer gathering.

Basically a party, right?
Basically a party, right? Photo by James Ransom

Plain white and running floor to ceiling, with the light pouring right through the cut-outs to cast palm leaf shadows on the wall, the paper made me want nothing more than to have a margarita in my hand, a good straw hat on my head. I felt transported, standing there on Broadway and 8th Street in the very concrete heart of New York City.

To recreate it at home, you could print out a large palm leaf shape, cut out the branch shapes, and then trace that shape onto the paper over and over before cutting out those. Exhausted yet? Me too. Instead, I suggest you cut out palm branches freestyle.


Here's a basic shape of lines to follow, and instructions for doing it yourself:

Dramatic eyebrow, overturned eyelash, or half a palm branch—you decide.
Dramatic eyebrow, overturned eyelash, or half a palm branch—you decide.

What you'll need:

  • A long scroll of paper, such as butcher paper or white craft paper
  • An X-Acto knife
  • A cutting mat
  • Friends (optional)

How to make it:

Crafting is better with friends (which is fine, because so are parties!)
Crafting is better with friends (which is fine, because so are parties!) Photo by James Ransom
  • Practice your palm shape on some spare pieces of paper taped to a cutting mat. You'll want to cut out the sides of each leaf, but not the part that butts up to where the stem would be—so that the leaves stay attach and flutter in the passing breeze.
  • When you feel good about it, cut out this shape over and over on the real piece of paper. Do some upside down, some small, some large, and then poke out all the leaves to be sure they flop. This step is way more fun with a few friends and a few more X-Acto knives.
  • Suspend it from a high place, like a rafter, where light can flood through.
  • Pour margaritas; party.

When you have a party do you clean, decorate, or do both? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: DIY, crafting, summer entertaining