How To Craft The Perfect Paddle


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Crafting a paddle is one of the quintessential parts of sorority life. We make them for bigs, for littles, for new members, and for 21st birthdays. We’ll probably even make them for our bridesmaids someday. They are an important symbol of, well, I don’t actually know what they symbolize. But they’re super cute and we love them almost as much as we love our littles. So, like, a lot. Here’s how to make sure the paddle you’re crafting is on point.

Step 1: Paddle Type
There are endless types of paddles out there. You can go with the more traditional Greek paddles or you can go with more of a plaque-type paddle in the shape of your sorority’s symbol. Phi Phi and DG girls are lucky, because arrows and anchors are all over craft stores. If you really wanted to get fancy, you could get your dad to help you make some sort of shape out of wood—a kite, a fleur de lis, a crown and if cutting wood is unthinkable to you, there’s always Etsy where the options are endless. If you plan to go paddle shopping, just make sure you go before they’re all sold out. The best craft stores to check are the ones located far away from college campuses, where sorority girls won’t be nabbing every last paddle on the shelf. If all else fails, just order one online. You’re already ordering plenty of things you shouldn’t. Why should this be any different?

Step 2: Overall Theme
Remember those information sheets we all had to fill out as new members? If you’re making a paddle for someone else, you should actually use those things. They are a great help for color choice and deciding on an overall theme. What is her favorite animal? What is her favorite flower? What is her drink of choice? Does she like the ‘Merica theme, or is she over it? Is she from the South? These are all very critical questions. If you’re stuck on what to do, all you need is a little Pinspiration to guide you to the perfect paddle theme.

Step 3: The Background
Background choices are endless here. There are two main categories of background to choose from: paint and fabric. For paint, acrylic works well on wood and is dirt cheap. You can choose between glossy and matte colors, but I generally think matte looks better (in most cases). If you are up to the challenge, you can also use wood glue and cover the paddle with fabric. I’ve seen it done before with a vintage floral fabric and pearl boarder, and it turned out fabulously. Just to name a few other background options, you could do: a solid color, dots, stripes, chevron, animal print, floral print (Hello, Lilly lovers!), or even paint an original masterpiece. You could also buy a pre-painted paddle online and spare yourself the sweat and tears. No one will know the difference.

Step 4: Your Names
This is perhaps the most important part of paddle crafting, especially if your chapter does the whole big/little paddle reveal. If you’re completely new to this type of craft, “Big Monica Lil Rachel,” replacing the Friends characters with your names is what you’re supposed to put on this thing. Small wooden letters will look the best for this part, but you could also paint them on or use foam letters. You’re probably also going to want to include your sorority letters somewhere on the paddle. You can go for the Greek alphabet or just spell out your chapter’s nickname. Paint these wooden letters, glitter the shit out of them, bedazzle them, or hot glue tiny little flowers to them until your hands fall off—the choice is up to you.

Step 5: Accessorize
There are a few obvious options here: bows, glitter, or shit-show Barbie (rated 21 and older). There is your family symbol, sorority flower, sorority gem, or hand sign, if you are going for that sort of theme. There are also flowers, stick-on gems, and adorable big/lil pictures you spent hours photoshopping. Here are some examples of what our readers have submitted.

Who said you can't be smart and funny? When I'm not writing for TSM, you can find me studying into oblivion, downing a bottle of chardonnay, and/or sobbing for reasons I have yet to understand. All hate fan mail can be sent to

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