Wednesday, 12 November 2014

ReVision: The Christmas Card Project

We make charitable donations throughout the year but at Christmas-time we like to do a little extra.  Some years, when paycheques are regular, that something extra is as easy as writing a cheque to the Food Bank.  Other years, it's more challenging.

This year falls under the heading of challenging.  

Don't get me wrong:  We have enough.  There's food in the pantry and the essential bills are paid.  It's just that, because of a change in our circumstances, we've had to give up many of life's little extras.

Charitable giving doesn't fall under the heading of extras for us, so we're thinking creatively about how to help out this year. We've been looking to the resources we have on hand, and finding ways to use them for our donations.

In my craft room, there's a big box of Christmas cards, saved from previous years.  I love to save them because I can use them for so many things, and my family and friends save cards for me too. I got to thinking about those Christmas cards and they gave me an idea:

Many of us are now falling out of the habit of sending Christmas cards but our elders, who value getting handwritten letters and other gifts in the mail, still enjoy them. For them, Christmas cards are a way to touch base with distant friends and family and to let those nearer at hand know that they're in their thoughts during the holiday season. 

Sadly, with the costs of everyday necessities rising rapidly and the cost of Canadian postage having more than doubled in the past year, many seniors can no longer afford to send holiday greetings.  I thought it might be nice to use some of the old cards in my stash to make new cards I could give them. 

Here's what I used to make the cards:
  • Salvaged greeting cards
  • Craft foam sheets
  • Coloured card stock (65 lb. weight) (I buy bulk packs when they go on sale at Michael's.)
  • White card stock (120 lb. weight).  I buy it in a bulk pack from a local office supply store.  It's a staple in my craft room because it's much less expensive than individual sheets purchased at a scrapbooking store.
  • A self-healing cutting mat (If you don't have a mat, a thick piece of cardboard would work too.  You just want something that will protect your work surface from cuts and scratches.)
  • An X-acto knife
  • A small pair of scissors
  • A cork backed ruler
  • A sharp pencil 
  • A glue stick
  • A metal knitting needle or bone folder, for scoring fold lines
  • Ribbon scraps
  • My computer and printer

I began by trimming useable pieces from my stock of cards.  I cut off card fronts, salvaged printed greetings where I could, and also saved little postage-sized-versions of the cover illustrations from the backs of some of the cards.

Once I'd finished salvaging what I could, I went through the images to decide which would be best for the format I'd chosen.  

Because I wanted to craft many cards in a short time, I chose to make each finished card the same size: 4-1/4 by 5-1/2 inches. It's a frugal use of materials because each 8-1/2 by 11 sheet of card stock will make two cards. 

I made simple greetings for the insides of the cards; one for cards with the fold on the side, and one for cards with folds at the top.  

I printed the greetings on plain white card stock.

Once the new white cards were printed with their captions, I began to assemble cards by making card fronts from the salvaged pieces I'd cut.  

The simplest cards I made were those where I just trimmed a larger image down to size and then pasted it in place.

On some cards, I used a single, slightly smaller image, adding dimension by mounting it on a piece of craft foam before gluing it to the front of the card.  I backed those raised images with a mat made from a piece of coloured card stock.

I fancied some of the cards up by adding a small ribbon bow.

I was able to cut several of my salvaged card fronts in half, to make two different cards.

I saved the trimmings from some of my re-used card fronts and used them as accents on other card designs.

When the images I was using were considerably smaller than the new card fronts, I mounted a piece of coloured card stock and then added one or more small components to make a new design. 

In short order, I'd assembled two dozen cards, using only materials I had on hand.  I bought nothing new at all to make them.  It gave me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.  :)

Once the glue on my cards had dried, I packaged them individually in cellophane bags. I tucked a stamp inside each card - a little surprise for the sender - and packaged each card with an envelope. (Choosing a commonly used card size enabled me to use ready-made envelopes.) 

I sealed the card packages with Christmas stickers. Soon I'll deliver them to our local seniors' drop in centre.  They're a small gift, but I'm hoping they'll spread a little seasonal cheer.

Want to start a card project of your own?  Click here for suggestions on salvaged materials you can use.

If your cards aren't sized to fit envelopes from the store, you can easily make your own.  Click here for an envelope-making tutorial.