How to Make a Lighted Sign

Make a lighted marquee-style sign to send out a cheerful message.

cheers sign craft

Stuff You Have:

  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Drill and bit, 3/16" or larger
  • Items to widen holes: wooden skewer, thick pen, wooden spoon
  • Drop cloth
  • Towels or a clean drop cloth
  • Small nails or adhesive hangers (optional)

Stuff You Need:

  • 23 1/2" papier-mâché letters to spell out CHEERS ($9 each;
  • Washer, 1 1/2" diameter
  • 3 strings of white lights with screw-in bulbs (25 bulbs per string)
  • Metallic-silver spray paint


  1. Lay a letter face down. Carefully cut back off letter with utility knife, leaving about a 1/4" lip around edges. Don’t worry if cut is ragged. Discard backs of letters. Remove and discard supporting pieces of cardboard from inside of letter. Repeat for each letter.

  2. Turn a letter right side up. Using washer as a template, and allotting 8 to 11 bulbs per letter, mark where you want lights to go. Use a ruler to help keep spacing even. When you settle on placement, trace around outside of washer and its inner hole. Drill into center of inner hole. Repeat for each letter.

  3. Using a succession of tools, widen holes until they are large enough for bulb base. Start with a wooden skewer, then a pencil, then a thick pen and, finally, a wooden spoon. Push from front to back so any pushed-through cardboard faces back. Holes should be big enough for bulb base to screw all the way in but tight enough to hold bulb in place.

  4. Spread a drop cloth in a well-ventilated area. Following manufacturer’s instructions, spray-paint letters. Let dry.

  5. Unscrew bulbs from cord. Screw a bulb into each hole. Spread towels or clean drop cloth out on floor. Lay letters on top so they spell out cheers. Gently flip them over, top to bottom. Take a string of lights, starting with socket closest to female plug end and bulb closest to top end of C, screw bulb into first socket. Continue from bulb to bulb, adding new strings of lights as necessary.

  6. Tuck excess cord into spaces between bulbs. The lip that you left when you cut off backs of letters will help keep electrical cord from popping out. To display, stand sign on a table or mantel, or hang on wall using small nails or adhesive hangers.