Happy Hour Marquee

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) If you’re grown up enough that you are able to take part in adult libations, happy hour is a time of celebration and fun! If you have a part of your house dedicated to this joyous occasion, or would like to, a lighted marquee is a great addition. You also don’t have to drink to have happy hours! This tutorial can be changed to any combination of words, quotes, etc. Note: this is a very drawn-out process, so I would suggest keeping it short and sweet unless you want to spend a huge chunk of your life on this!

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Supplies:
-3/4″ pine
-LED lights
-wood glue
-dowel rod
-picture wire
-transparent paper (waxed paper works great)
-gold paint (I used this one, which worked perfectly!)
-letters (I used Avenir Next, but there are some similar ones you can use if you don’t have this font. Cocogoose is a cool one. For your convenience, there is a Download of print-ready letters)!


-3/8″ drill bit
-hot glue gun

Step One: Pick your phrase/word, then print and cut out letters. Our size is basically the letter fit to an 8.5″ x 11″ page. Make sure each letter prints the same size (or not; different-sized letters might be cool!). I had panels cut out to be approximately the size of each letter, making them easier to handle when cutting out. 

Step Two: Trace each letter onto the wood. Take your time cutting each letter out; that way it’s safer, and your letters come out looking great.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Drill holes in letters that you can’t get to from the side.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions)Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) The best jigsaw blade to use is the one labeled clean wood; it has fine teeth, makes your cuts clean (go figure), and makes sanding a snippity snap.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Step Three: Alright! You’re half done with the letters. Now it’s time to cut out the raised part of the letters. Take your cut-out letters and trace them.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Once they’re traced, take your ruler and measure in 5/8″ from all sides, marking as you go. Connect all the marks. I would use a mechanical pencil and make all of the measurements and marks as exact as you can. Any imperfections will translate into your cut.

EDIT: If you use the Cocogoose typeface, you may have to make the sides closer to 1/2″ so you have room for the bulbs in the middle. It depends on the size of bulbs you get.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Step Four: Glue tops to bottoms. When I was gluing each one, I put a heavy piece of wood and a full paint can on top of it. If you have a bunch of clamps, you can clamp them. (I should have actually done that. On a few of the letters there were gaps that I had to fill with putty. You can avoid that if you clamp the pieces super tight.) After all the pieces are dry, sand them all nice and smooth. Start with a more aggressive grit (80) and move on down to your fine grit (220 or even 320 if you’re feeling extra fancy).

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Step Five: Spray paint the letters your color of choice. After the spray paint dried, I painted the inside wall gold.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Step Six: Install lights. Easier said than done. Start by measuring the middle of each letter and lightly marking with pencil. I eyeballed the distance between the bulbs; you may want to try to measure between each bulb, but they don’t have to be exact. Drill holes. Choose your bit size to match the bulb base size (depending on which bulbs you buy). After holes are drilled, glue three 1″ dowels to the back of each letter. Make sure you don’t cover any of the bulb holes, and leave room for wires and battery pack. The dowels not only offset the marquee off the wall, but they give room for the wires and battery pack.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Take all bulbs covers off and stick in holes. Flip letters over and put lights through. Make sure the bulb placement allows for space between letters. After you have all the bulbs installed, glue them in place. Glue battery packs in place.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Make sure the bulbs work one more time before gluing! If you have leftover bulbs in the strand, you can just glue them to the back, or like with the strands I bought, they were wired in such a way that if you cut some off, it still worked, which was awesome.

Step Seven: Put wire on each letter.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Step Eight: Pick your space and prep it for hanging. Using painter’s tape is a great way to lay out the bottom and center line. Use a level when putting up the tape. You can put up the letters to get a good visual of placement.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) To get all the letters lined up, you can either use the paper cut-out or trace the inverted letters on transparent paper. Measure the space between the wire and the top edge of the letter, then measure on the wall.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Hammer in nails where you marked. Put up the letters! You might need to recruit some helping hands to hold letters.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) Remove paper, and you’re done! Flip on the lights, pour yourself something tasty, and sit back and admire your handiwork.

Happy Hour Marquee DIY (click thorugh for instructions) 19Happy building! -Josh

Credits // Author: Josh Rhodes. Photos: Sarah Rhodes, Josh Rhodes, & Laura Gummerman. Photos Edited with Piper from the Signature Collection

  • OMG, I want this!!! This is a really cool and original DIY project..please keep posting projects like this!

    [ BlueberryPost.com ]

  • Awesome! I am going to give it a try now. Thank you so much!

    I wish I could say I was making something different, but I’m in love with what you guys did so I’m copying it 100%. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? 🙂

    I’ll be sure to send a photo! Thanks again.


  • Loving Josh’s tutorials! Although I suspect they are a little out of my DIY skill set, they are fab to see nonetheless.

  • Hey Elizabeth, sorry about that! I uploaded some new and improved letters that should work better for you. When you’re printing select fill entire paper, or play with the scale. Make sure you scale all letters the same! Depending on how big your bulbs are, you may need to make the thickness of the walls a little less than 5/8″ . Hopefully that helps you! What are you making it say? Once it’s all finished, I would love to see a picture of it!


  • I LOVE THIS!!!! And I’m trying to make it but I am having problems with the printing of the templates you gave us. Even when I fit them to fill the whole sheet they just seem to small. I already bought my lights but they just won’t fit if I use these templates. What am I doing wrong? Help! Thanks!!!

  • You make this look so easy….even though I know I couldn’t make this if you paid me!!! Great job though, I would love this in any space I occupied.

    Love your posts 🙂

  • How wonderful and cheery! I have got to start working with power tools. The result is always awesome. Good work!

  • oh! and just in case….if ever!…ill take one that says READ so i can place it over my little library i have going on! (: <3 <3 <3

  • So cute! I tried making one out of foam core and electric lights once and was then too scared to turn it on in case it caught fire. This looks safer! Definitely putting this on my crafts to do list!

  • Yowza!! That’s a LOT of work…but the finished product is totally worth all the time!! Such a fun idea; too bad we live in a condo without a garage or workshop, otherwise I’d be putting my husband right on this project!! 😉


  • Pretty sweet. That’s a nice little project. I need my own workbench first — what a catch 22 situation. If only I had a work bench to build a work bench.

  • You guys! You’ll never stop surprising me by your skills and creativity!! That looks awesome and adds a lot of fun to your pretty bar cart!
    Great DIY!
    Much love

  • Your DIYs have been so cool lately! I mean, they’ve always been awesome, but lately the projects are so new, innovative and fun! Love the look of this one 🙂

  • It looks really great. How long did the project take and how much did you spend on materials?
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi Lisa! It took around 3 days to complete with a cost of around $100.00. 🙂 -Jacki

  • im just going to throw this out there…..buuuuut maybe you guys should start selling this stuff.
    because i would LOVE this (even though i dont have my own bar at home!) to have it up on my wall….i just dont have the tools or skill for this!

    a beautiful mess DIY by Josh shop!!!!


    love this!!!!!

  • Wow..this is so cool..love it! Wish i had a Josh in my team too

    xo, Hems

  • Oh, this kind of sign makes me want to create some kind of hidden room, like the one i pixar’s offices, where people can dance all night long to the twinkly lights! ^ ^

  • LOVE THIS! Nice job Josh, thanks for sharing!


  • Totally wish there was a Like button for your comment Melinda! Great clarification info, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • This made me think of happy hour from Starbucks haha 😉

    I actually just wrote a blog post on it! http://everydayingrace.blogspot.ca/2014/05/i-finally-tried-starbucks-secret-menu.html

  • This is freaking amazing, I want it so much. But I know if I used all those power tools I would take my arm off.

  • I love that bar cart!! I’ve been looking for months, but no luck finding a good one.

  • This just gives me another reason to want a jig saw! People made fun of me for putting an electric drill on my wedding registry. Whets wrong with a girl wanting some power tools?

    This is such a fun project! Thank you for sharing.

  • great idea! i love that bar cart!



  • Wow! This is super awesome! I’m always amazed at the talent that you have, Josh! So cool!


  • This is AMAZING!! Can’t I just pay you to make one for me as seems a bit too much DIY for my terrible skills!

  • Wow! You guys did some serious work on these — and the sign turned out awesome! I totally want to make one of these… now I jut need a jigsaw!

  • Oh this is so perfect.


  • I loved! I loved it here!
    I have an empty space in my garage, a written sign “Party” would be beautiful there! Where do parties and barbecues, will be a very special and even elegant touch!

    a kiss

  • The term “Marquee” changed a bit during the height of Broadway and early American Cinema. The Marquee was definitely the tent infront of the theater, but in those days (especially after electricity) signs were placed on the Marquee to explain what show would be performing that night/week/month. The sign and the Marquee (tent) were used interchangably during the height of Broadway and it made its way to Cinema theater where Marquee in American Slang now reffers to those “Bright Lights of Broadway” or the Theater Marquee which is the sign that tells you what pictures are playing.

  • Wow that looks awesome! I would’ve put it in the “too hard” basket but you guys smashed it! Great post 🙂

  • This is darling! What a great idea and such a great tutorial! Love these creative ideas, ladies!


  • This is an awesome tutorial, but why did you decide to use wood instead of those cardboard letters from Jo-Ann’s, or Hobby Lobby, etc.? The making of the letters seems like the most expense, time consuming & skilled part so I would definitely have to skip that and use some cardboard ones 🙂

  • Great idea!

    I do love that bar cart.. where is it from?

  • Oh my goodness, this just paved the way for so many amazing signs in the future!

    Awesome idea; thanks!


  • Amazing! I love the idea! It’s good for make the decor of baby’s rooms too!

  • Definition of marquee in English:
    Pronunciation: /mɑːˈkiː


    1 chiefly British A large tent used for social or commercial functions.
    More example sentences

    2 North American A canopy projecting over the entrance to a theatre, hotel, or other building.

  • I think my jigsawing requires a couple of 100 years more practice before that happens….! looks amazing!


  • Wow, it looks like it takes some time but it’s so worth it. I really really love the outcome.
    Have a great week, much love, Eva from Germany

  • Oh, wow! I absolutely love this – it’s the coolest! I wish I could have happy hour every day 😉 Thanks so much for sharing 🙂


  • Wow! This looks so good, I’ve been thinking of how to do the best lighted letters and I was thinking of doing something with plexiglass. But this one is really nice. Maybe this is what I should do. Thanks for the guide. Lovely!

  • This is the best youve ever done so far!!! I love it but very intimidating.

  • I think I should make that too. but the only different is going to be “Happy Hours”. Anyway awesome work.

  • I absolutely love this! Such a cute idea. I want to make one! Perhaps with black paint.

    xoxo Britt

  • I love the idea of putting the little lights inside the letters. Seems a little advanced for me but I’ll work up to it 🙂

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