Christmas is going to be here before we know it, and that means Christmas cards will soon be hitting our mailboxes! I’m excited about the idea of getting the extra mail, and I always love to get photos and letters from friends and family whom I don’t hear from often. The flip side of this, of course, is that I have to send out just as many cards myself, to keep those relationships going. Sure, it’s easy to buy a box of cards at the store and quickly jot down our names on them and send them off. But I like to be more fun and creative than that, so for the last few years I have made handmade Christmas cards to send to my family and friends. I do my best to make sure each year’s card has something special that really makes it “pop” and that makes the recipient smile when opening it.
I’d like to share with you two of my favorite card designs from recent years. The first is a spinning snowflake design that adults and kids alike love to open again and again. The second includes a “build-your-own snowman” kit that the kids absolutely loved to assemble. Both cards are easy to make and have a huge impact. It may seem early to be thinking about making Christmas cards, but if you’ve got a lot to make, you’d better start now, so that you have time to finish them all and get them in the mail!
Spinning snowflake card
- one 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of white card stock
- one 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ piece of patterned paper
- one 5 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ greeting card envelope
- two matching foam snowflakes (self-adhesive ones are easiest)
- 8″ length of nylon (monofilament) fishing line
- glue stick (or similar adhesive)
- something to cut ovals, circles, or rectangles, as desired
Start by placing the half sheet of patterned paper on the right half of the white card stock, lining the right edge up. Hold securely in place and use your shape cutting tool (I love my Creative Memories oval cutters) to cut a hole in the front of the card that’s larger than your snowflake. Be sure to cut through both the white and patterned paper at the same time, so that your two holes line up perfectly. Then fold the white card stock in half, so that it looks like a card.
Next we’ll string the snowflake. Peel the backing off one snowflake (or apply glue if it’s not self-adhesive) and place the monofilament line right down the middle of the snowflake, on the sticky side. Then peel the other snowflake and put it on top, making a sandwich around the monofilament line. You now have a hanging snowflake. (If you used glue for this step, be sure to let it dry thoroughly before continuing.)
Go back to the white card stock and lay it flat on the table. Place the snowflake in the middle of the hole, centering it. Using regular tape, attach both ends of the monofilament line to the front of the card. To be sure the line doesn’t slip out from the tape, put a loop in the end of it and apply a second piece of tape (look closely at my pictures below and you can see this loop in action). Now apply glue stick to the patterned paper and stick it on the front of the card, covering the taped monofilament completely, and lining up the hole carefully. The snowflake is now sandwiched between the two pieces of paper, and can spin freely in the opening.
Your card is basically done, and you can now sign it on the inside. Be sure that your writing is on the top or bottom parts of the inside of the card, so that it doesn’t show through the hole when the card is closed.
Before you put the card in the envelope, you’ll want to wind up the snowflake so that it will spin when the card is opened. Just use your fingers to wind the snowflake around and around (see yellow arrow in picture below), about 10 times. Then hold the snowflake flat and put the card into the envelope. When the card is opened, the snowflake will spin around, delighting the recipient.
Remember that if you are making a lot of these cards, you don’t have to make them all look identical or use the same patterned paper. This is a good time to dig into your paper stash and use up any scraps that look wintery or Christmas-y. Here are some samples of lots of different cards I made with many different papers:
As a special bonus, the snowflake can be used as an ornament. Many of my friends chose to remove the snowflake from the card and hang it on their tree, which turned it from just a throwaway Christmas card into a lasting memento.
This is the most popular handmade Christmas card I’ve made, and certainly offered the most fun for its recipients. The card has a little kit inside with all the items you’ll need to create your own snowman ornament to hang on your tree. I got the idea from FamilyFun.com and they provide great instructions, so I won’t repeat them again here. I do have a few suggestions for improvements though:
- Instead of messing around with seed beads, I used black mini brads for the face and buttons for the snowman. They were MUCH easier to apply on the snowman, and didn’t require glue or any adhesive.
- Include a little strip of 8 or 10 self-adhesive mounting squares in each kit to be used for assembly. This will save your friends from having to search for glue or tape to put together their snowman.
- If you’re sending this card to a family with more than one child, include an extra kit or two in a baggie in the envelope. The parents will appreciate not having to referee as several children try to share one snowman.
- If you’re savvy with your computer and printer, print a greeting on the inside of the card, which can be read through the window on the front. Also, on the inside or on the back, print a little picture of a finished snowman for guidance, and a sentence or two about how to assemble the snowman.
By the way, I have an important tip for any home card-making — ALWAYS buy the envelopes before making the cards. That way you can make the card fit the envelope. You do NOT want to end up with a beautiful card that you can’t find an envelope for!