Face to Face

Ever since I decided to try volunteering at my kids’ school, I found out that helping out with certain things, like the Reflections committee, appealed to my interests and strengths. Encouraging others to use their imaginations and create artwork was fun for me, even if it did take months of work. Other things, like decorating doors for Teacher Appreciation Week, took much less time but left me feeling annoyed and frustrated. You know, because it meant I had to use my own imagination and create my own artwork.


Why do we even do this? Do the teachers even like having their doors decorated? Doesn’t it annoy the office staff to have dozens of moms fighting over the Cricut machine and paper cutter? Or, more to the point: Why did I think I could even do this? Why can’t I even tape a piece of butcher paper on a door without having the whole thing collapse on my head? How is it that every door but mine looks like an actual grown-up decorated it? After attempting it two years ago, I decided I would never, ever volunteer again. Because, really, it was for the good of all mankind.

Guess what I didn’t realize when I volunteered to be the room mom for my son’s 6th grade class? I thought it would just be all fun, games and planning class parties. I had no idea that I was also his class’s designated door decorator. Oh, my. This would not end well.

But then I had an idea, and since I like my own ideas so much, it didn’t matter that it would take some extra time and planning. This idea made me so happy that I was actually excited to decorate her door. And even after my first attempt failed, I didn’t mind doing it all over again. I don’t know if someone came up with this already, but I love my idea so much, I’m putting it on Pinterest to share with others who might also hate decorating doors.

First, here’s the finished product. I’m sure it’s not all centered because nothing I do ever is, but I don’t even care. Also, notice I used no butcher paper.


Each photo is a face swap of the teacher’s face (in an 8×10 photo) and a student. Get it? We wouldn’t SWAP you for another? We want to be JUST LIKE YOU?

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The door is covered with kids “wearing” her face. If she’s ever been curious what she’d look like with short hair or as a blonde, now she’ll know.

At first, in an effort to keep it a surprise for the teacher, I stole her Facebook profile picture and had it printed up. That felt a little bit stalker-y, and because in that picture her her hair fell over her cheek and her face was at a different angle from the kids’ faces, those shots didn’t turn out so well. Each child had a stripe across his or her face where the teacher’s hair had fallen and the teacher’s photo ended up looking like one of the Coneheads. Face swaps are supposed to be weird, but these were pretty wonky.

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So I went to the teacher, took her picture with her permission this time but without telling her why, and had her tuck her hair behind her ear. I don’t think it ruined the surprise any, and it improved the pictures. Not every child was thrilled to have to pose all over again, but most of them were excited to get to play face swap a second time. Even though I took her picture in the same hallway with the same lighting as the kids, there were still color variations from the printing process which made them look weird. This was easily solved by making all the pictures black and white.

Some pictures looked funnier than others – if someone has long bangs, the swapped face can look like it has a unibrow, or sometimes glasses can mess with the swap. Or, like my son here, a child might just be incapable of not making weird faces. The photo on the left has an extra long, blond eyebrow (and what’s with that face, dude?). The kid on the right looks like he has the mumps.

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I printed off all the pictures for less than $4 at Costco, mounted them on scrapbook paper, and taped them to the door. Easy peasy and pretty cute, especially coming from me. I walked past several doors that were much more impressive, but compared to my attempt two years ago, I’m quite pleased with how this one turned out. I didn’t even feel like a failure this year.


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