To Card or Not To Card by Tara Randel

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As each Christmas season passes, I’ve noticed less and less cards come in the mail. Yes, we use email to send a letter or holiday wishes and there are very clever and pretty e-cards available to send to friends, but what about the personal touch? Taking time to write a short note in a paper card and then write out the address on the envelope? I suppose people are more time-starved than ever before. Or the tradition of sending cards has faded away. Either way, the trip to the mail box is not as much fun during the holidays as it used to be.

When I was growing up, we received lots of cards. Each year my mother would come up with creative way to display them. One year she crafted what looked like a decorated mail box. She placed the cards inside with the door down so you could take them out to browse through. Or she would hang red ribbon on the wall and attach the cards with a pin so everyone could see them. Then there was the year of the coffee can. She’d remove the top and bottom of the can then took yarn and wrapped it inside and out. You would slip a card through a stand of the yarn and once all the cards were placed this way, it was like flipping through a book.

I’ll admit that I don’t send out as many cards as I did years ago. At first I didn’t mind taking the time of what I perceived as a hassle, but in recent years, I miss the exchange. So I decided to be creative and make my own cards. I usually send them to family and close friends. Coming up with my own designs is my Christmas present to myself.

If you like being creative, or even if you just want to try something different, I’ve put together a list of ways to make your own cards. Even if you can’t draw a stick figure, you can cut and paste—literally, not with the click of a mouse—and have fun in the process. And having the kids pitch in and help will thrill grandparents and relatives. So here we go!

Homemade Christmas Cards

All materials can be found in craft specialty stores. Since scrapbooking has become very popular, there are lots of paper products and cut-outs in that section.

Pick out card-stock, pre-folded cards and envelopes. Go crazy. You can pick a mixture of festive green and red mix along with the white cards. These usually are prepackaged in an assortment.

There are so many Christmas themed paper pads to choose from to create a colorful background. You can find solid, themed (like candy canes or snowflakes) and whimsical patterns. I went to the store recently and went crazy over all the choices, but didn’t indulge since I have two or three pads at home!

You can purchase sticker letters or use the paper pad if has wording to cut out.

Christmas characters and motifs, or packages of holiday stickers, add dazzle.

Glue gun and/or bottle glue or glue stick. I find the stick works the best.

Optional: ribbons, glitter, colored craft chalk.

Scissors and ruler.

Most importantly, use your imagination!

 Once you’ve collected all your materials—and not broken the bank—decide on the theme of your card, ie: snowmen, decorated trees, elves. Since I usually send cards to people I know well, I can pick special themes I know they’ll love. Some people go for traditional so it’s easy to pick out holly leaves or gold letters. My daughter loves penguins, so guess which card she gets?

Before you start getting carried away with the glue, have an idea of placement before you start the gluing process. I usually find a design from the paper pad. It can be used as a background, frame or border on the outside (or all three), as well as inside the card. After designing the front of the card, start to glue the paper in place. Place stickers and/or themed cutouts. Cut out words from the paper pad or use stickers to create a personalized greeting inside the card. There is no right or wrong way. Go with whatever tickles your fancy. I usually purchase a package of white envelopes and usually address the envelope in red or green pen.

Here are a few I’ve made over the years.

Like I said, the entire point of taking a few a hours out of the busy holiday season to make your own cards is to have fun and send a personal creation to family and friends. You can turn this into family time, a night with girlfriends, or quiet time when you and your imagination go to town. Let this become a new tradition for you and allow you to capture the magic of Christmas in a very special way.

I’ll send you off with some other clever ideas I found.

Enjoy the holidays!

In Heartwarming Holiday Wishes, Tara Randel contributed The Christmas Window. Her most recent Harlequin Heartwarming release is The Wedding March.