Thursday, December 2, 2010


Thanksgiving is over and the Holiday season is upon us once more.  Here at the library our Holiday books (seasonal fiction as well as non-fiction such as crafting, cooking and traditions), music cds, and Christmas films are out of storage and reside on a special table dedicated to our seasonal items. They have actually been out of storage for a while now since many crafters like to get a head start on their projects, or at least planning for them.  (Mind you even though they usually live in storage, they are ALWAYS accessible to check just need to ask one of our staff members to retrieve them for you, no problem!)

You don't have to be a knowledgeable crafter, rolling in the bucks, or have oodles of time to be able to craft homemade holiday decorations or gifts from the heart.  Many books address quick to create holiday decorations and even gifts that use a limited number of supplies, many of which you may already have on hand.  I will be exploring these possibilities over the next few weeks.

First up: Christmas Cards and Tags.

It seems to me that as soon as Thanksgiving Day is over, and mail service has been resumed that the Holiday cards start pouring in.  I swear some people must write them prior to Halloween!!  I am not that organized.  We have many books that address card making, but one in our Christmas collection caught my eye:

Christmas Cards - 100 Fast & Festive Cards & Tags , by Elizabeth Moad

This book provides a number of projects ranging from the very quick, "uh oh, out of time" to the more involved, "no worries, I have lots of time."  A description of basic tools and techniques is provided up front.  Hints and tips are sprinkled throughout, as well as options for slight adaptions. Great photographs with step-by-step instructions are provided and each project has a complete list of materials needed. As the title suggests, projects include ideas for gift tags as well as cards.

Although I am guilty of not sending cards out in recent years, I might try some because I agree with the beginning of the introduction in this book:

"The giving of Christmas cards is the time-honoured way of sending festive goodwill to loved ones, friends and colleagues.  These simple items have the power to strengthen family ties, renew acquaintances and even heal a breach in a personal or business relationship.  by spending just a little time and effort on a handmade card, you have the opportunity to make them individual and extra special, and therefore the recipients are sure to appreciate them even more."

I tried a couple of the projects so I could get an idea of how complete the instructions are (I wouldn't want to recommend a book with lousy instructions after all!).  The first project I tried was the "Brilliant Baubles" card. It was broken down into eight steps.

The first three steps were pretty darn elementary.  They were instructions for copying and cutting out the templates and baubles as well as tracing the designs onto the backsides of the baubles (you can see them in the photo below.)

Steps four and five covered pricking evenly spaced pin holes along the traced lines from the back side.  (Well mostly evenly spaced...)

One of the baubles required a tool I do not own: a "4-needle pricking tool", which is basically 4 needles secured in a square pattern in a holder (the photograph that accompanied the step had a picture of it, fortunately, so I could see what they meant.)  I decided I did not need that design detail. I just used my singular needle on all my baubles.

After pushing the needle into the cardstock a couple of times, the pain entering my fingers and palm opened my mind to the probable usefulness of the appropriate tools.  I created a needle holder of my own by pushing my heavy upholstery needle (from the eye end) into a cork.

Here are my baubles with their pinprick details.  The one on the far left has not been done yet - the lines have been drawn on it but the camera did not seem to pick them up.

Step six was more fun (and less painful) than pricking holes.  In this step I was instructed to apply gold paint detailing to each bauble. I used a gold paint pen to do this.

Step seven said to draw lines resembling strings for each bauble on the face of the card with a silver pen.  My silver pen had dried out so I glued gold cording on the card instead ... crafting often involves improvisation!  

Finally in Step eight, the baubles were affixed with foam pads (so they stand out? - it didn't say why).  My project is complete:

After finishing that card I dabbled with some of the other projects in the book.  I purchased a snowflake punch tool which I love. You could use the punched out shapes on cards, tags, strung together as a garland or an ornament, add them to packaging like confetti - there is no limit!  It was so much fun punching the intricate shapes out in no time that I think I could go nuts punching snowflake shapes out of all our scrap paper.

Here is a card that I made inspired by the "Simply Snow" instructions in the book:

I made a few gift tags as well:

I think I prefer making the tags - I know I always need tags at the last minute - I could whip up a few and have them on hand for that last minute crunch. Some of the tags could be affixed to a card for another look.  As a matter of fact, the "Rudolph the Reindeer" tag shown above was actually a card project from the book - I prefer it as a tag.

Overall, this was a fun project (especially using the snowflake puncher!  I might have to buy some other shapes and play some more!)  It was simple and I could easily see it as a project that you could do with a group of friends or your family...a nice way to spend time together and get something done during this busy season.  And remember, cards don't have to be for Christmas only, once you have the techniques or general ideas in your head, and some supplies on hand, cards can be created for any of the holidays - why not?  Just re-read that introduction and put any holiday's name in place of Christmas!

Check back soon - next I will be exploring the use of felt for ornaments, decor and gifting ideas. 

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