I enjoy making things, and I frequently say to myself, “Oh, I could totally make that!” But to say I am artistically inclined would be a stretch. When I take on a craft project it needs to be something structured, where I can measure or trace in order to limit my sloppiness, because what fun is crafting if you aren’t proud to show off the final product?
As I found myself preparing for my first holiday season in New York City, I wanted my holiday cards to be representative of my newfound love of the city. Though individual parts of the city may be grimy or ugly, when you are across the river at night staring at the glittering skyline, it is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. I fell in love with these Crane & Company cards but a. I prefer things to be a little sparklier, and b. I am not made of money. Limited by my stick figure drawing abilities, I decided that a pared down, gold skyline on black with a few Christmas elements would be both pretty and achievable.
- Fine tipped metallic marker (Sharpie or the like)
- Black or navy cards (it is best to use a matte card if you can find them, as things will smudge easier on a glossy card)
- Paint pens to taste
- Scotch tape
- Scissors/xacto knife
- Glue stick or spray adhesive
- Pretty paper to line envelopes
Start with a piece of cardstock trimmed down to the same size as your card. Then decide on the landmark buildings you want to include and place them approximately where they should go geographically – I started with One World Trade Center all the way on the southern most (left) side of the card up to the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building. Then fill in the remaining space with some interesting looking buildings. I wasn’t going for accuracy, just for the recipients to be able to recognize it as NYC.
Once you are happy with the stencil, cut it out. Use scissors or an x-acto knife to straighten out the lines.
Now you have a stencil to trace! This will keep the image uniform and make it easier than free-handing the many, many cards you have to make (because you have so many deserving friends!)
Tape the stencil to the card so it doesn’t slip and carefully trace with your metallic marker. Once it is all traced, remove the stencil and add in some details – I added antennas to the top of my Empire State Building & One WTC, along with trying to approximate the cool deco lights on the Chrysler Building.
Now that you have the basic outline it is time to decorate! Since, as I mentioned, I am not artistic, I purchased a “Seasons Greetings” stamp. Be sure to press straight down firmly for a crisp print (you can see that mine got a bit smudged). Once the gold details were finished, I used green and red paint pens to add a Christmas tree and wreath to the scene. I think they add a nice pop of color and really made the scene a holiday card.
In order to make my homemade cards feel a bit fancier, I decided to dress up the envelopes with a liner as well. I bought gold envelopes to tie in with the gold ink on the cards. I chose a black and gray piece of scrapbook paper. You can use any paper to line envelopes – scraps of wrapping paper or construction paper you may have lying around would be perfect.
To make the liner, trace your envelope on the back of the paper, being sure it will go down past the opening in the front of the envelope.
Cut it out and trim a bit of paper off the sides so it will fit in the envelope smoothly. Slide the liner paper down into the envelope until the adhesive on the envelope flap is visible again. Once you have confirmed that it will fit, use a glue stick or spray adhesive to attach the liner.
Voila! Easy, personalized cards to share your new locale with everyone!
Wait, what is that? You don’t live in a city? Even that was too artistic for your talents? Well, I have an even easier card for you which doesn’t include stencils, tracing or cities!
- Blank cards
- Assorted stamps
- Ink pads
Using blank white cards, I first stamped paisley stamps in gold, then the snowflake stamps in blue. Be sure to start with the lighter color and shape that you want to be less dominant as the second shape and darker color will be more prominent. Don’t be afraid to overlap the stamps and to bunch them up – it is more interesting if they aren’t perfectly spaced out! Instead of an envelope liner, use the stamps for a quick & easy decoration and to tie the cards and envelopes together.
See how easy and inexpensive making your own holiday cards can be? Now it is up to you to decide who should receive one of your masterpieces!
How are your holiday crafts coming along? Share via email, Twitter, or comment below to be linked in the next Holiday Link Love post!