Whether you’ve got a craft fair, street festival, urban yard sale, protest rally, or, yes, Girl Scout cookie booth in the works, a DIY sandwich board is an excellent, albeit old-school, way to get the word out. Here’s how to make a sandwich board with materials that you can get for free.
People are suckers for other people wearing something weird, so a DIY sandwich board will get them looking at what you have to say, whatever it is that you have to say.
How to Make a Sandwich Board
1. two giant pieces of cardboard. Know anyone who’s been to IKEA lately? The cardboard used in this project actually came from a flat-pack IKEA table, and I’ve been holding onto it since October, because everyone knows that giant pieces of cardboard=awesome. The food pantry where I volunteer also occasionally gets large pieces of cardboard with pallets of canned goods, so if you think that you’ll have a regular use for new sandwich boards, then may I suggest volunteering at your local food bank?
2. Sharpies, poster paint, etc. Since I was working with children to create the sandwich board in these photos, I supplied them with the basics–Sharpies and poster paint. Cardboard is an excellent creative surface, however, and with some gesso, artist’s acrylics, collage materials, and sealant, you could really turn a sandwich board into a walking piece of art.
3. hole punch and shoestring. You’ll need to remove one shoulder piece to put on and take off this sandwich board, so the easiest option is to use something that you can tie–ribbon, twine, shoelaces, whatever you’ve got on hand.
1. Measure and cut the cardboard. The maximum length for your sandwich board depends on its wearer–I measured this particular sandwich board to go from the shoulders to the shins of the shortest kid in my troop, but if you can get away with only making your sandwich board go down to the knees (ie. if the people wearing the sandwich board aren’t so short that you need all the extra length that you can get just to get a whole poem written on!), then that will make for easier walking.
2. Decorate. Beige cardboard isn’t the best surface for making your writing pop, so you may want to consider giving your sandwich board a base coat of white or black. Otherwise, cardboard is at least a forgiving surface for all types of media; just remember to go big, so that people don’t have to come up into your personal space and squat down to read you.
3. Add shoulder straps. Again, I measured the shoulder breadth of my shortest kid for this, to make sure that the sandwich board wouldn’t slip off of her shoulders. Use a hole punch to punch completely through both pieces of cardboard at both sides, then thread through your shoelaces or ribbon. Tie them on to fit the person wearing the sandwich board, and untie them to help that person get the sandwich board off their neck afterwards.
Word to the wise: cardboard is light, which makes this sandwich board comfy, but it’ll also fly up in your face in the wind. If wind is a possibility, punch another couple of holes on each side about waist-level, and loosely tie another couple of ribbons or laces there.