With summer in full swing, now is the perfect time to host dinners, barbeques and cookouts with your family and friends.
Need some personal, art-filled elements to incorporate into your next social gathering? Check out this fun do-it-yourself project from designer and North Light Books author, Jen Wagner.
The Perfect Summer DIY Menu in Just 8 Steps
In our home, we absolutely love having friends over for dinner. Every week, we have a family dinner at our house where the goal is to make others feel loved and welcome.
Decorative elements like a butcher paper menu can easily add an extra handmade touch to whatever event you’re hosting, making your guests feel that much more special.
Materials You’ll Need:
- Butcher paper or kraft paper roll (and roll holder)
- Pencil and eraser
- Permanent marker, black
- Straightedge (optional)
Begin creating your butcher paper menu by rolling out your butcher paper to the length you plan to use. Then, create your title “MENU” (or whatever title you desire) on the top in simple, tall sans serif letters. You can enclose the title with a box or other decorative element if you like.
Placing Section Headings
Next, write out your section headings in cursive lettering, trying to center it to the best of your ability. I used a varying baseline and standard kerning for my headings.
Creating a ‘Centered’ Illusion
If you’re finding it tricky to center your headings, try creating the illusion of it being centered using your tails. Creating tails on each side of your word that begins and ends in a way that frames the word will help center it. So if your word is a little too far to the right, create a tail at the beginning of the word that is a little bit longer to help visually move the word over to the left.
Listing Menu Items
Next, begin listing your menu items in all capital, narrow sans serif letters. Lightly create guides with a straightedge if you need help keeping your words straight on the page. You can also use the blocking technique to guarantee each item will be centered. Then lightly erase your guides after you’ve finished using them.
Now, we’ll finish each of our headings by creating downstrokes for each letter. Using techniques explored earlier, create larger downstrokes and fill each with your marker.
Add decorative elements to each heading as you like. I chose to use the underline swirls we learned to do in the lettering with a Nib section.
Applying More Decorative Elements
Once your menu is complete, begin adding decorative elements to each side of your menu. To create the olive branches for this menu, draw three lines on each side of the menu in various lengths.
Adding Final Touches
Then, use your marker to create leaves going down each branch, from top to bottom. Don’t be afraid to use different sizes and angles to make it look more natural.
Once you’ve finished your decorative elements, either cut your menu from the roll or mount the roll on a wall to display your beautiful menu to the world!
The Endless Possibilities
Butcher paper isn’t just for menus. Use yours to create grocery lists, welcome signs, seating arrangements and more! For the variation, below, I used a chalk marker and spattered the ink a bit to give it some texture. (You can do this by creating a quick motion from about a foot above your paper and quickly stop a few inches where you want the paint to spatter.)
Make sure your marker is primed. You can use a white paint marker, but I’ve found them to be far less opaque than chalk markers as they require you to go over the text several times to get a bright white.
Want More from Jen Wagner?
If you enjoyed this step-by-step DIY guide to creating menus, be sure to check out Jen’s new book, Happy Hand Lettering, which features this project above, as well as a vast array of other fun arts and crafts.
From thoughtful notes and invitations to inspirational signs and home décor, Jen shows you how to incorporate typography, calligraphy, watercolor and more into your next creative project. Enjoy!