Autumn has arrived, and the holidays are now upon us! I love making holiday meals even more special by making a calligraphy menu. Even if it’s obvious what’s being served, a menu adds a sense of elegance and importance to any meal. Today, I’ll show you an easy way to make a menu that look wonderful surrounded by steaming dishes and a couple of candles!
1. Source Black Cardstock
To make this menu, start with a 5″x7″ (127 mm x 177.8 mm) piece of black cardstock. Any brand will work, though I particularly like Cards and Pockets.
2. Plan Out Your Menu
Now, it’s time to plan out your menu on a scrap piece of paper. Take note of how many lines there are! In my menu, I’ve got nine lines:
- Split Pea Soup
- Crusty Baguette
- Thyme Roasted Turkey
- Cornbread Stuffing
- Caramelized Sweet Potatoes
- French Green Beans
- Chocolate Lava Cake
- Homemade Ice Cream
3. Draw a Guidelines Page
Now, take out a piece of lined notebook paper. The first thing you’ll do is partition off two lines for the “Menu” title. Then, use a marker to fill in the line below the two lines you just partitioned off. Next, allocate a line for the first item on your menu (“soup”). If the first item will be accompanied by something, then skip a space and allocate one line for the second item. Then, use a marker to draw another line, and start on your entrée courses. The idea, basically, is to skip one line between every dish, but only draw marker guidelines to separate groups of dishes, e.g. appetizer, entrée, dessert.
4. Make Guidelines on Your Cardstock
Once you’ve drawn guidelines on the notebook paper, it’s time to place your black card stock on top. Rotate it as shown in the photo below. Try to center your rotated card stock by using the very top and very bottom guidelines on your notebook paper as references. Once the card stock is centered, use a ruler and a white mechanical pencil to draw top and bottom horizontal guidelines using your notebook page as a guide.
Next, tape down two corners of your menu to ensure it stays affixed to the notebook paper. This is an optional step, but I do it because I like to make sure my menu doesn’t move around.
Use your white pencil to draw guidelines above and below all the marker guidelines that you drew on the notebook paper.
5. Make Your Calligraphy Menu
At this point, your cardstock is prepped for calligraphy! Take out a pan of gold watercolor such as Arabic gold, and moisten it with water.
When your gold watercolor is all ready to go, it’s time to write! Use a bouncy calligraphy style like the Kaitlin to write “Menu” on the top guideline. (Not sure how to write with metallic watercolors? Read this article.)
The reason I love making diagonal menus is this: no centering! If you were making a standard DIY menu card with perfectly horizontal guidelines, centering would take a lot of time. Writing diagonally is a nice shortcut because you can justify your words to the left, and everything will look good.
Ideally, the vertical spacing of the dishes within each group should be close together vertically. Don’t worry if your calligraphy is all over the place; as long as it stays within the group guidelines, your finished menu will look cohesive!
Once you’re finished writing, allow your ink to dry.
6. Erase Any Pencil Guidelines
Once your watercolor has dried, use a black eraser to get rid of any guidelines. Remember to be gentle! It’s easy to wrinkle the paper if you get a little aggressive with this step.
And voilà! A beautiful, professional-looking calligraphy menu that’s ready to rock your holiday (or wedding, or just-because) table!
I normally just make one menu per holiday meal, and I display it somewhere prominent. If you want to make a meal extra special, you can always make one calligraphy menu for each guest and include it in their place setting. It just depends on how much time you have and the look you’re going for!
Thanks very much for reading, and happy autumn!