One particularly fun activity is constructing hand-made Christmas cards to send to friends and relatives.
Card making is a wonderful activity for artsy adults to do on their own, or it can be a fun way to provide kids with holiday crafts. Either way, the best thing is to get creative and use stuff from around the house.
Naturally, this activity is not limited to Christmas. If you are disinclined toward the Martha Stewart method of preparing for holidays months in advance, but are looking for an art project, keep in mind that themed card making can apply to any time of the year. Autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving are all options as well.
Before going out to the store to buy expensive supplies, take inventory of what is already sitting around at home. Some heavier, card-stock weight paper is essential for good cards, but everything else is flexible. Many paper and crafts stores carry blank greeting cards, or you can cut your own from a sheet of card-stock (sold at scrapbook stores, craft stores and most office supply stores and copy centres). Experiment with cards in different colours.
For cards that will last forever in someone’s memory book, acid free papers, glues and pens are best. But if your cards don’t need to make it to the next century, don’t sweat that stuff.
Take a look around for fun decorations. You’ll probably want some coloured paper, whether fancy printed scrapbooking paper, construction paper or old wrapping paper. Consider making your own paper prints by getting out the crayons, coloured pencils, etc. and drawing repeating patterns on a blank sheet. You can even use old paper bags.
Other good materials might include: bits of old Christmas (or other holiday) cards, glitter, ribbon, foil wrappers, stickers, googley eyes, pom pom balls, old sheet music, photos, fabric scraps, felt, etc. Rubber stamps are also a wonderful tool, and if you don’t have a stamp pad just colour over the stamp with a non-permanent marker.
Be sure to have on hand a good glue stick and a bottle of white glue, as well as sharp scissors and perhaps a ruler.
It’s very helpful to have some tracing tools in various shapes and sizes. For circles, simply use a plastic lid or cup from the kitchen. Squares and rectangles can be made using a ruler or other straight edge, or by tracing any household item of the appropriate shape and size.
For more complex or themed shapes, do an internet image search for what you want. For example, if you’d like a traceable outline of a snowman, a search for “snowman + outline” should turn up a number of good options that you can then print, cut out, and trace onto the appropriate paper to use for your card.
Be sure to have a large, flat area where you can spread out all your materials and make a bit of a mess. If you’re working with kids you might want to spread a dropcloth or sheet of plastic over the nice tabletop or even the floor (so long as it’s hardwood or another hard, flat surface beneath). Have a designated spot, bag, or bin for trash, so it doesn’t get mixed up with your still usable materials.
You’ll want to make sure the area is well lit and free of drafts, which would send all your papers flying!
Putting It All Together
Lay the blank card out alongside all your materials, and look for the colours and patterns that you like best together. Decide what shapes or images you want on the card, and cut those out.
Consider adding some ribbon, glitter, or stickers. For writing on the front of the card, you can go with handwritten words, or, if your handwriting isn’t the look you want, craft and scrapbooking stores carry sticker letters and rub-on letters. The latter are letters that are transferred to paper by rubbing a stick over the plastic to which the letter is attached. Then, when the plastic is carefully removed, the letter remains. These provide a very elegant and professional look.
If you want some of your papers to have an aged, antique look before applying them to the card, there are a few methods available. There’s the old trick of dipping things in coffee, which of course requires that they dry afterward. For a less time-consuming method, try crumpling and uncrumpling the paper, and perhaps shading the edges with crayon, pencil crayon or chalk. Scrapbooking and craft stores also sell “distress ink,” which can be rubbed along the edges of paper to give them a worn look.
Keep in mind that your cards do not have to be a conventional shape or size (but make sure if you’re mailing them that you’ve got an envelope to fit). You can use special scissors (once again, sold at craft and scrapbooking stories) to cut patterns across one or more of the card’s edges. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Crayons are among the most wonderful inventions of all time. For card making, they can be a great tool for adding a little depth, by shading the edges of various shapes and cutouts on the card.
Glitter is a fun finishing touch for some cards, especially if you’re working with children. Be prepared for mess, though!