When it’s time for your RAs to come back for training, you know what needs to get made: Door decorations… and lots of them!
Making door decs can be a super fun, creative project. It might be one of the first big projects that your RAs collaborate on. They’ll bond over this project, as only other RAs know about the joy and struggles that come with door decs.
As a recent RA myself, I can tell you that your RAs know about the classic decorations, such as ice cream cones and Pac-Man. But door dec time is most fulfilling when RAs put their heads together to make something truly special for their incoming batch of residents.
Here are some unique ideas, including themes, finishing touches, and extra special tips that will help your RAs make residents feel right at home.
Pick a Theme
The first step to making amazing door decs is picking a theme. Between Pinterest and your imagination, there are limitless possibilities.
Encourage your RAs to pick a theme that sets the tone for their ideal community. So, because inclusion is so important to building strong, safe communities, door decs’ inclusiveness should be front and center when considering a theme.
A key piece of advice is to not reference gender, size, ability, race, sexuality, or religion in door decs. Using animals and objects, rather than people, can help guide RAs away from perpetuating stereotypes or assumptions about students’ bodies and abilities.
Volkswagen vans, GameBoys, Lucky Charms, and Crocs are all #TBT worthy, sure to take your residents back in time.
Succulents, avocados, boba tea, and Taco Bell may sound like an odd assortment of things, but they’re all “in” for Gen Z right now.
Nature and Adventure
Help students get in touch with their nature-loving sides or develop a newfound appreciation for the outdoors in all its glory.
TV and Film
This is all about alluding to students’ childhoods. In addition to the ideas photographed below, Lilo & Stitch, Finding Nemo, and Despicable Me are classic films that could inspire fun decorations. You could even print out QV codes that link to videos or websites.
Encourage wellness while keeping it light. Put meaning behind your decs by urging students to “hang in there,” “make this place their gnome,” keep their “pocket full of sunshine,” or to simply “bee happy.”
These decorations are especially apt for students who have traveled a long way to be at your institution or are interested in studying abroad.
After all, your students are there to learn. Give them an opportunity to show off their academic passions and nerdy pride.
Pay homage to what’s going on out in the world, whether it be the weather outside or a fun secular holiday.
Materials beyond classic construction paper and markers can inspire creative and beautiful decorations! Consider watercolor paint, string, journal paper, and glitter.
Better yet, use free or recycled materials — like paint chips from home improvement stores, aluminum or plastic from soft drink cans, pages from alumni magazines, or leftover pizza boxes.
Door decs can already help students to feel at home, but imagine how much better it can be if they get to be part of the creative process. Students can put a finishing touch on their decs or even be encouraged to be in touch with their RA well before they move in.
When your RAs communicates with their future residents over the summer and collect preferred names and pronouns, they can also get info to include on their decorations: Like the residents’ favorite quote, national park, animal, and more.
Your RAs can even host a welcome event that includes set time for residents to add bling to their door decs.
You can also give students the chance to share a picture that’s meaningful to them — perhaps of themselves, a role model, or a favorite vacation spot.
“Where am I?”
A lot of RAs have a spinny wheel on their door, which they update to inform residents of their whereabouts.
But how about making these for roommates to know whether or not the room is free? Thanks to these door decs, RAs can work proactively to make communal living easier for everyone.
If residents’ doors face the outdoors, adding a layer of protection is essential for keeping decorations beautiful despite the rain and sun.
You should consider laminating, especially if your door decs are highly detailed or are made out of thinner materials. This will make the door decoration more durable and gives students the option to hold onto their dec after the year is up.
You might consider investing in a laminator for your res life department. Or check in with the student activities office or the library; there might be one you could borrow.
Invest in a cutting machine
Make your decs like a pro by using a tool that cuts shapes out perfectly. This will make it easier to make more intricate.
With a little training, your RAs will be using this in no time. They simply download computer software, select a shape online, and the machine cuts them out. All RAs have to do is punch out the shape!
What are some of your favorite door decs? We’d love to see your creations! Tweet us @HelloPresence.