Nothing adds a bit of pizzazz like some flashy marquee letters. Unfortunately, while Etsy offers oodles of them, they are largely out of my price range, and by my price range, I mean the amount Andy will confidently agree that I should spend on light up letters for a 4 day event.

Commence project DIY. I found a few different tutorials available online, and mostly adhered to this one on Ruffled, but I wanted to break things down a bit more, adding in specifics and more detail where it could have been helpful for me in the process. The entire process took a day, I’ll be using them at Camp Throwback year after year, and they got TONS of compliments from people who had NO IDEA they weren’t made of metal.

DIY Marquee Letters

Supplies: 

2 Sheets of Foam Poster Board
2 Sheets of Regular Poster Board
2 Strands of LED Globe String Lights*
Glossy Red Spray Paint
Glossy Silver Spray Paint
Zip Ties
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Power Drill with very large drill bit (Optional but helpful)

*I used Philips 25 ct LED G40 Globe Christmas Lights. The plastic globes and LED light meant the bulb wouldn’t overheat and melt the foam board. The cheapest I was able to find these was at Target.com. I used 2 strands, but ordered 3 to have a back-up.

1. Print out your letters on paper to trace onto the foam board. Font: Fette Egyptienne Size: 15 inches

2. Cut out and trace the letters onto your foam board. Then using a box cutter, cut out the foam letters. I could fit 2 letters on each board.

3. Starting at central points of the letter, mark where the bulbs will go. This is largely done by eye, but I put about 2.5 inches between each marking. The bulbs are large and you don’t want them too close together.

4. Using the large drill bit, drill through the foam to create your bulb hole. A few notes. 1. There is plenty of room for error here. The bulbs are large and will hide lots of mistakes, so it doesn’t have to be perfect. 2. After your drill the hole, use a nickle to help make the hole bigger by twisting it in the existing hole, it works better than tearing through with your finger. 3. Have a bulb on hand to practice putting through each hole to make sure it fits, the globes unscrews easily, so try out each hole. 4. You MUST do this before painting the letters. It’s a messy task, and you want it done before it’s all painted and pretty.

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5. Take the letters outside, and spray them red. I applied two coats.

6. While that is drying, cut your regular poster board, length wise, into 4 inch strips, and then paint them (both sides!) with the silver spray paint.

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7. Once everything is dry, get to work wrapping the silver poster board around the letters to create that faux metal look. Secure it with hot glue. This is a tedious task, and takes lots of cutting and bending, but it’s easy and looks amazing.

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8. Insert the bulbs, and secure them in the back with the zip ties to keep the strands out of the way. You could also use duct tape, but this cheap fix is way more efficient.

9. Light them up! I found that if I attached some of the letters together on the back with duct tape, it helped them stand up a little more sturdily. I attached all the letters in the back except for the C.

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