Old Hollywood Props & Decor (Talent Show)

This school year, I have the privilege of being a part of the Theater Booster Club at my daughter’s school. The TBC is a group of parents who support the school’s performing arts program. One of my favorite events each year is the Talent Show. I love this incredible opportunity for students to showcase their talents. This year, we had singers, musicians, dancers, a beat-boxer, an aerial silk performer, and so much more. It was an amazing show!

To help make this event even more special for the kids, the TBC got together over the summer to brainstorm theme ideas and to decide on what types of decor we wanted to create. We settled on “Old Hollywood” for our theme, and went to work gathering supplies and crafting all the things. I hit up a local appliance store for as many refrigerator boxes as I could fit in my van. We put 2 aside to make into giant popcorn boxes and another for a “media-inspired” filmstrip countdown to use as a photo backdrop. Two more boxes were designated for giant film reels, and the rest we used for a film strip photo station that we set up for the cutest picture keepsakes from the Talent Show.

Our team gathered one hot September morning to start painting red and white striped popcorn boxes and black film reels. I had cut out the film reels a couple of days before (after projecting them onto cardboard using my Mouka mini projector). This is a must-have tool for making oversized props and I have gotten a ton of use out of it in the past 2 years. We used painter’s tape to make the lines on the popcorn boxes and used paint from Lowes instead of craft paint for these oversized props because it is thicker and required fewer coats. I also used my projector to trace the POPCORN sign onto a piece of white poster board and then painted it with the same red paint we used for the stripes. #commissionsearned

Putting the film reels together was the next project. I purchased 2 small cardboard poster tubes, cut out 4 circles that were smaller than the 6 ft film reels, and asked my husband for some help with attaching the pieces. We spray-painted the inside of the reels with gold Rustoleum spray paint to give them a metallic appearance, attached two cardboard circles to the poster tube, and transported everything to the school because they were too big to transport once they were all put together.

In the meantime, I got to work on the filmstrip of all of the kids who participated in the Talent Show. This was the most amazing prop that we created because it made the kids feel like celebrities! They loved seeing the giant film strip with their faces when they walked into the amphitheater on the night of the show.

To pull this off, our team set up a camera on the days of the talent show auditions. Before each child auditioned, we snapped a photo with a white backdrop behind them. We gave them photo booth prop options and encouraged them to pose in a variety of ways. The kids didn’t know what they were posing for at the time, so we were able to surprise them.

After we gathered all of the photos, our team printed them in black and white onto 11×14 paper. We used white poster board for the film strip and pieced it together with a curve to fit along the walls of the amphitheater. This was definitely not an easy project. It required a lot of measuring, gluing, painting, and cutting, and was very time-consuming…but it was worth every minute when we saw the looks on the kid’s faces on the night of the show.

After painting the 2-inch black film strip lines around each of the kid’s photos, we used white vinyl squares, cut from the Cricut Maker for the finishing touch, making it look very much like a winding film strip. I also added a smaller bit of blank film strip around the inside of the giant 6ft film reels so it gave the illusion that the film strip was coming out of the reel. My husband helped me attach the black reels to the gold centers with screws, washers, and bolts and they held together really well. #commissionsearned

The final project was the photo station. For the backdrop, I used a large sturdy refrigerator box opened up. I had gray and white house paint left over from some projects at home, and I used black duct tape, black electrical tape, black acrylic paint, and my Mouka projector. I also set aside a couple more large pieces of cardboard for the film strip. I started by outlining the entire box with black duct tape. Then I made 4 distinct panels by adding strips of tape to the folds. I painted a white stripe along the top and bottom and then added smaller tape strips to make the film squares. Another strip of tape along the tops of these created the top and bottom of the film strip. Next, I projected two circles onto the middle of each panel and added 1, 2, 3, and 4 for the countdown. I painted the numbers with black acrylic paint and used black electrical tape for the thinner lines.

After projecting the film strip onto a piece of cardboard, I traced it and cut out two more identical pieces. I layered the 3 cardboard cutouts and glued them with E600 glue. I put bricks on top for several hours while they dried and then painted the entire thing black. The 3 layers made the filmstrip a lot more sturdy, which is important when lots of people will be handling a prop. The white rectangles were once again, vinyl cut out from the Cricut, and I added a thick layer of Mod Podge over the top to give it a shiny finish and to keep the white rectangles from falling off. #commissionsearned

On the day of the event, our team got to work putting up all of the decor so that the room was ready to go at showtime. One of our TBC members is gifted at balloon displays and she made the popcorn boxes “POP” with white and yellow balloons. She also added the black and white balloon displays to the photo station to give it a polished look. The facilities guys at the school were instrumental in hanging the giant film reels and film strips and helping to make our vision come to life.

It was definitely a group effort to pull off this giant undertaking, but our TBC team is full of creative parents who get the job done! The Talent Show was a huge success! The kids felt like “stars” and all of our hours of hard work were so worth it!!! The highlight of the night for me was that my daughter got to perform a song with her dad, which is a memory that I know they will both cherish forever. You can see their smiling faces in the filmstrip at the bottom of this post.

red plaid dress & red bowtie #commissionsearned


New Year’s Eve Countdown Bags for Kids & Tweens

“Countdown Bags” are one of my favorite ways to ring in a new year. I started doing this when my 3 kids were little, and over the years, I have adapted this tradition in a variety of ways. This year my husband had to work until 9pm and my teenage boys made plans to play Airsoft with friends, so it was just going to be my girl and I counting down for most of the evening. I wanted to make it really fun for her, so I let her invite a couple of friends over and got to work creating a memorable tween friendly event.

I am learning that 11 year old girls love to be silly and have fun with planned activities, but also like to have a good amount of unstructured time when they get together, so I planned the night to incorporate both. I purchased a pack of shimmery silver lunch sized bags and filled them with a variety of fun things that they could do on the hour, every hour, from 4:00 pm – midnight. I bought some glittery card stock in a couple of different colors and I created clocks to glue on the front of each bag. #CommissionsEarned

I filled the bags ahead of time, and since some of the items were too large to fit in the bags, I wrapped them and included times to correlate with the bags that they went with.

The girls arrived at 4:00 and we kicked off the night with “photo booth fun!” I already had a large piece of black material that I had used for a variety of party backdrops. I also kept some props and decorations from our 2020 New Year’s Eve celebration, so I reused them and added a string of white Christmas lights as a border. The girls took a few fun shots and then went off to giggle and chat about all the things. #CommissionsEarned

At 5:00 they opened the next bag. This one had them wondering, because there was a huge ball hanging over the countdown bags, wrapped in black plastic. They had guessed that it might be a disco ball and were shocked to find that it was really light. They opened it to find a beach ball with questions written all over it in sharpie. This game turned out to be so much fun and they came back to playing it several times throughout the night.

Somewhere between 5:00-6:00 the girls ate dinner, which was just a super easy Papa Murphy’s take and bake pizza and some fruit. Then at 6:00 they opened the next bag. I planned ahead for a game of “Whiteboard Pictionary” by printing off a list of fun and easy prompts. I folded each one and put them all in a mason jar and include a whiteboard marker in the bag. This is another game that didn’t take the entire hour, so it left a good amount of downtime for whatever the girls wanted to do.

7:00 was probably my favorite because I am such a crafty girl at heart. I purchased 3 plain canvas tote bags and I already had a variety of paintbrushes and acrylic paints from previous projects. I found some fun “create your own tote bag” inspiration on Pinterest and grabbed a roll of painters tape so the girls could try some of the geometric tote bag ideas. I would have to say, that they turned out pretty cute! #CommissionsEarned

The girls were so curious to find out what 8:00 was all about because they noticed at the beginning of the night that there was a large mass of “something” taped to the ceiling under a black plastic table cloth. They finally got to rip into the plastic and a bunch of balloons cascaded down on them. The object of the balloon game is to pop the balloons one at a time and do whatever activity is found on the piece of paper hidden inside. Some of the tasks I included were: leapfrog across the room, dance an Irish jig, make a 3 person pyramid, and run outside and yell Happy New Year 5 times as loud as you can.

At 9:00 the girls opened an extra little package in front of the countdown bag that was too large to fit inside. It was a small wooden movie clapboard and I included a couple of chalk pens as well. They had already been doing TikTok dances throughout the night, but this hour was dedicated time to do just that. #CommissionsEarned

By 10:00 these girls were showing no signs of slowing down, so I planned to tire them out with glow in the dark balloon games. I taped off three sections in the middle of my living room with some of the painters tape so each girl had her own zone. Then I brought out 15 balloons I had blown up earlier in the day with glow sticks inside. You can also purchase glow balloons on Amazon. We put all of the balloons in the middle and turned the lights out. I played music on my phone while the girls tried to keep all of the balloons out of their section. When the music stopped they had to freeze. I would also switch the light on and the winner was the one with the least amount of balloons in their zone. After each game, they rotated spots. I think they played about 7 rounds with lots of squeals and giggles before taking a snack break of rice crispy treats and s’mores dip. #CommissionsEarned

I wanted to do something exciting at the 11:00 hour, so I bought 3 cans of silly string and sent the girls outside for an EPIC SILLY STRING BATTLE!!! This may have only taken a few minutes, but it was hilarious to watch and was so much fun! #CommissionsEarned

Our 12:00 HAPPY NEW YEAR bag was filled with poppers and horns, so I let the girls open this one at 11:45. We also busted out the Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Cider and some “fancy glasses!” and got ready to ring in the New Year. We ran outside at 20 seconds to midnight with poppers and horns ready to go, counted down to 2022, yelled HAPPY NEW YEAR for all of neighborhood to hear, popped our poppers, and then came back inside to toast to a new year. #CommissionsEarned

For another fun New Year’s Eve idea check out my previous blogpost:

New Year’s Eve