12 Handmade Cards to Wish Everyone a "Merry Christmas"
Now that digital cards and text messages are delivered at lightning speed, the card that you can hold in your hand, and that's sent from the heart, is irreplaceable. One way to revive the spirit of old-fashioned greetings is to craft them yourself.
There are a variety of ways you can turn a favorite digital photo or family snapshot into a memorable card. Perfect the image, experiment with fonts, and play with flourishes. Then print and send as many cards as you like.
If you're going to make your cards with digital images, there are some particulars to keep in mind. Most important, use a camera with at least 3 to 4 megapixels. This will ensure that the photos, whether 4 by 6 inches or 5 by 7 inches, are sufficiently crisp. Other considerations apply to both film and digital photography. Before you start shooting, for example, clear away clutter. A neat and simple background will keep the focus on your subjects. Once you've snapped the perfect shot, paste your picture onto a card, and write out a greeting. Or use our downloadable templates and clip-art to create a layout that includes both a photo and message. Whatever you choose, you'll have a great card to deliver good tidings.
Whether the sentiment is embossed, decked in ribbon, or encasing a prized photograph, the extra time will be well worth it when your handmade card is opened. Quiet evenings spent snipping ribbons and dusting paper with fine glitter will ease you into the busy holiday season, and your notes will surely become gifts in themselves, treasured long after the store-bought cards have come and gone.
Glittered Photograph Card
Photo cards are great for family updates, but they can feel like a mass mailer. For personal pop, print them in black-and-white on card stock, or order them with a matte finish (for contrast). Then strategically dot on craft glue, sprinkle with glitter, tap o the excess, and let dry. Fill a sky with stars or snowflakes, bedeck a tree, or encrust a pet's collar—and lend a handmade feel, fast.
The tools you need to craft these cameo-like cards come from the kitchen: They're traditional European springerle-cookie molds. We filled them with pulp made from cotton-linter paper instead of dough, then glued the textured medallions onto cards. The finished pieces make graceful ornaments, as well: Trim the paper, leaving a border just wide enough to punch a hole in, and thread ribbon or wire through for hanging.
Decoupaged Illustration Card
Send snail mail with a delight inside: Cut a piece of paper so it's sized to line an envelope, from base to tip. Then trim the top flap by inch so the adhesive strip shows. Slide the liner in, lift it up to brush glue onto the envelope, and lay it in place. Stick a coordinating cutout on the note for a dapper delivery.
Embossed Holiday Cards
Any bold, seasonal line drawing can be turned into a stamp for embossing cards. These are two examples of cards Martha created to send out last holiday season.
Use store-bought cards, or make your own from card stock. Press a rubber stamp onto an embossing pad. Position the stamp over the card; apply firm, even pressure to transfer the design. Clean the stamp with a paper towel, then a stamp-cleaning pad. Place the card on a paper plate; sprinkle embossing powder over the stamped design. Tap the card to remove excess powder, and reapply as needed to coat design. If there is stray powder on the card, very gently spray compressed air from a can fitted with an extension wand. Working in sections, hold a heat gun 2 inches from the design and move the nozzle in a circular motion. The powder-covered areas will melt, creating a glossy finish. Continue until the entire design has melted. Gently wave the card three or four times to set the design. If the paper begins to curl, heat the back of the card, and fan it again. Then place card under a heavy book for five to ten minutes (this will not smudge the design).
Shop Now: Ranger Emboss It Clear Embossing Ink Pad, $6, amazon.com.
3-D Christmas Tree Card
As this card opens, a tree made from pleated paper rectangles pops out, like a small gift. Although it can be glued into any size greeting, it is especially attractive in a tall, slender card that mimics a pine tree's natural dimensions.
Fold a piece of card stock in half or use a blank store-bought card. Cut art paper into rectangles of graduated lengths and widths (adding about 1/4 inch to widths and 1 to 2 inches to lengths). Pleat each rectangle accordion-style, making same-size folds in each; score folds with a bone folder. Open the card, and center the rectangles in the spine of the card. Glue down the end folds to form a pop-up tree that expands as you open the card. To make the "bucket" that holds the tree, fold another paper rectangle into four accordion folds. Glue the end folds on either side of the card's spine. If you wish, use a star-shaped hole punch to make a star for top of tree. Fold star at the center, and glue both sides to the card.
Shop Now: Fiskars 1/4" Star Hand Punch, $8.49, amazon.com.
Accordion-Fold Photo Card
A three-part card delivers a pair of favorite photos, plus a simple greeting. For best results, use color photocopies or computer-paper printouts, which will make for a thinner stack than actual photographs.
Cut medium- to heavyweight art paper to the desired size, and fold, accordion-style, into three equal sections. Trim printouts or color photocopies of photographs so a 1/4-inch border of art paper shows around each. Use a thin layer of craft glue to attach photos in the first two sections and a printed message in the third.
Button Snowman Cards
The cheerful forms of ordinary buttons lend themselves to adorable holiday greetings. Here, tiny knots and stitches of embroidery floss bring shirt-button snowmen to life.
Use embroidery floss to sew different-size white shirt buttons to a colored note card. Green French knots make buttons and eyes; a single stitch in red between two holes creates a mouth. Slide a bit of thin silk ribbon behind the top two buttons, then knot it into a scarf; trim the ends. Secure with craft glue. Slide a second, slightly larger blank note card inside the first. Align as desired, then punch two holes along the folded edge using a micro-hole punch. String a ribbon through the holes; tie to secure.
Rickrack—wavy cotton trim—is easily manipulated into seasonal symbols. Glue rickrack designs to blank cards, and use them as holiday greetings: Cut and paste strips of green for a Christmas tree, or trim segments of white for a snowflake. For striped designs, twist together two strands of equal width. The strands' shapes will keep them from unraveling.
Fresh sprigs of winter greens create artful silhouettes on handmade holiday cards. A light layer of white spray paint highlights the shapes of the branches against colored paper. With dots of craft glue and touches of fine glitter, you can add sparkling lifelike berries.
First, cut rectangles of colored art or construction paper. For thin paper, mount it to a card cut from heavier paper—apply a thin layer of spray mount; press papers together until dry. Choose a small, flat evergreen branch. (Arborvitae is naturally flat; spruce or another fuller type will need to be pressed first. Place the branch between heavy books, and leave in a dry place for about a week.) Spray a thin layer of spray mount onto branch to serve as a temporary adhesive, then press it onto paper. Cover the entire card's surface with white spray paint, pull the branch off, and let paint dry. For a glittery card, realign branch; apply spray mount to entire card surface, then sprinkle with glitter. To add "berries" or a written greeting, make fine details with a fine-tip glue applicator, and sprinkle with glitter. Let dry completely.
Shop Now: 3M Scotch Spray Mount Adhesive, $15.29 for 10.25 oz., walmart.com. Martha Stewart Satin Finish Spray Paint & Primer, in Wedding Cake, $8, michaels.com. Martha Stewart Fine Glitter, $19.47 for 24, amazon.com.
Reindeer Pop-Up Card
"On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer, and Vixen!" Spread holiday cheer this season with this one-of-a-kind reindeer card. Download our printable templates for the reindeer's antlers, head and body, plus the pop-up card base. It's easy to make: Cut the outline from medium-weight paper using a craft knife, then use a knitting needle or bone folder to score the dotted lines.
Luckily for yarn-card enthusiasts, the winter holidays offer plenty of symbols to play with: wreaths, snowmen, fir trees, snowflakes, mittens, candy canes, and more. Experiment with yarn in different colors, weights, and textures, even on the same card. A Christmas ornament requires only a couple of curves, and several graduated lengths of yarn render a tree. Create your own designs; practice on scratch paper, if desired. Lightly pencil your sketch onto a blank card or piece of card stock. Trace the drawing with craft glue in a bottle with a fine-tip applicator. Carefully place yarn on the glue. Let dry; snip away excess yarn.
A sprig of holly springs to life from atop a store-bought plain note card. This project wouldn't fare well in the mail, so save it for greetings you're planning to deliver by hand.
Draw a holly leaf on cardboard to make a template; cut out. Trace template onto card stock in different shades of green to make eight leaves; cut out with a craft knife. Using a ruler and a bone folder, score each leaf down its center, as shown; lightly fold sides upward along the scored line. Bend the top of each leaf away from its stem. Punch berries from red card stock using a hole punch. Cut a branch from brown card stock. Affix branch to a store-bought note card with craft glue; let dry. Add leaves, gluing only at the stems. Top with berries along branch.