How You Do: Make Your Own Greeting Cards

[I used to think I knew everything…until I found myself stranded in the middle of adulthood with no map and no one to guide me when I got lost. I have learned a lot since then – from how to balance a checkbook to how to sew on a button – and will share my wisdom with you. Every Monday I will be back to teach you how to do something useful, even if it also happens to be completely random. Because, hey, you never know when you just might need to know how to change a tire…or mix a perfect martini.]
I think we can all agree that Hallmark cards are lame. If the card doesn’t contain something that you would actually say out loud on it (“For You, Mother, on Your 50th Birthday,” anyone?), it’s not worth spending your hard-earned cash on. Especially considering they cost like $5!
So what’s a gal to do when the holidays and special occasions roll around?
Duh! Make your OWN cards.
If you normally run screaming at the thought of anything crafty, take a deep breath and hang with me for a second. I also hate crafts, but I love to make greeting cards. They’re so much fun, and you can personalize them any way you want. AND they can be as simple or as involved as you like—no need to spend an hour laboring over intricate cutouts and frilly decorations if you don’t want to.
Here’s the other good news—they’re easy. All you need to make a basic card is some paper that you can fold and some markers (or crayons, pens, colored pencils, paints, or even chalk). Try making a painting on the outside of your card and writing a message on the inside. If that doesn’t strike your fancy, do a stencil or make a collage. A mosaic is another fun idea.
And don’t limit yourself. Remember, you can use anything to spice up the design—ribbon, googly eyes, fabric, shells or leaves, beads, scrap paper… you get the idea. Here are a few materials you may want to gather:
Glue. If you’re really desperate, you can tape cut-out pictures to a card, but it looks kind of tacky (no pun intended) and it won’t be as permanent.
Scissors. You can tear the paper to fit your needed shape, but it’s easier (and cleaner) to cut. Plus, you can cut out any shapes you want.
Pipe cleaners. As in the cool picture above and the How Stuff Works tutorial from where it came, you can twist pipe cleaners into flowers, moons and stars, hearts, birthday cakes… you get the idea.
Scraps. If you’re a pack rat, you’re probably a natural for making greeting cards. Saving receipts, business cards, take-out menus, and old wrapping paper will really pay off when you want to make a cool patterned skirt for a greeting-card girl or a funny-lettered billboard that spells out a birthday message.
When you’re making your cards, keep a couple of things in mind:
– Reinforcement. When using a lot of glue, you don’t want marker pictures to smear or bleed, and you don’t want those annoying wriggly wet lines. If it looks as though your card is heading in that direction, dab some glue lightly on the edges of one or two more pieces of paper that are cut to the same size as your card, and glue them on the inside so that the card will look smoother.
– Personality. Keep your audience in mind when making your cards. Just as you wouldn’t buy a card with a Shakespearean love sonnet on it for your brother, you wouldn’t want to give a slapdash and amateurish-looking thank-you card to someone with whom you just had a job interview. That’s not to say you can’t give homemade thank-yous after job interviews–just that if you do, they have to look professional.
– Creases and folds. Decide whether you want a long and narrow card, a fat square one, or something in between. Fold the card in half, and cut. If you don’t have a scissors handy, you can crease it along the edges where you want the cuts. Fold one way sharply, then straighten the paper and fold the other way. Make each fold again a couple of times to reinforce it, then use one hand to hold the paper and the other to tear gently along the edges. It should tear away in a straight line.
If you’re not artsy and all of this talk about designs makes you wanna hurl, just fill your card with cool words. A simple list of words and phrases that remind you of the other person is a creative, personal and not-at-all artsy way of creating a special card. It might seem lame, but if you’ve ever received a homemade card, you know how great it feels.
Now all you need is an occasion. So log onto Facebook right now and find out when your next friend’s birthday is—and get cracking!

[Image courtesy of howstuffworks.com.]

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