How to Make Your Own Christmas Card
The Beginnings of the Christmas Card
Now that December is upon us, our thoughts are turned to the festive season and all it brings with it. All over the world, one of our long-standing traditions is, of course, sending seasons greetings to family, friends, colleagues or customers, and this began in London with the first-ever commercially-produced Christmas card, commissioned in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole and featuring artwork by John Callcott Horsley. The card was hand-coloured and lithographed on cardboard and was a message of both celebration and charity.
In terms of the first known personalised Christmas card, in 1891, the infamous sharpshooter Annie Oakley sent ones from Glasgow to friends and family in the United States as well as to her fans and they featured a photo of her decked out in Scottish tartan and posing with one of her shotguns.
Handmade is so Personal...
While seasonal greetings make up the majority of card-buying habits each year in North America, often it's a handmade card that is treasured by the recipient. Whether it's a simple piece of paper scribbled on by a small child or a fancy card decorated with embellishments or made using die-cutting techniques, your own card is a gift in itself and you don't have to be an expert to get started making one. Cardmaking is a fun hobby that can relieve stress and gives you the end result of seeing your friend's or family member's face light up when they see how much they are thought of by you, so it's worth every second doing.
I spoke to amateur cardmaker Dorne Maher, who has spent many years creating beautiful homemade cards that often feature her own artwork, and here she walks us through the creative process of making one of your own Christmas cards. For this card, Dorne uses the process of 3D decoupage, which is the art of decorating with paper cut-outs, as you'll see below.
With my easy-to-follow, 9-step tutorial, you can easily make your own Christmas card this year - or maybe even more than one!
How to Make Your Own Christmas Card
1. Decide on the main focus of your card. This could be as simple as saying that you're making a card featuring a jolly Santa or perhaps even just words. For her card, Dorne uses one of her own paintings of a lovely snow scene, which is evocative of the festive season.
Dorne makes four colour copies of the painting so that she can use one for the background and three which she will cut up to layer on top of this for the 3D decoupage effect.
2. Using craft scissors, carefully cut around the parts of the card you want to layer.
3. Now choose your cardstock, whether it's white or coloured. Likely the most common weight of paper used in cardmaking is 220gsm to 280gsm, as it's sturdy enough for you to add decoration but it can go through a printer or die-cutting machine easily too. A weight of 280gsm is more popular for thicker, sturdier cards that feel more luxurious. Nevertheless, if you're an amateur or a new cardmaker, you may not know the card weight so you'll just want to choose cardstock that feels right to you for this project.
For Dorne's card, she chooses three pieces, which adds to the layering feel. The painting will be mounted on the white piece, then this will be mounted on the silver piece and finally, the purple piece (the thickest piece) will be used as the main card.
4. This is where you decide the format of your card - whether it will be landscape, portrait, concertina or even postcard-style with no folding. If you're making a traditional folded Christmas card, you'll need to aim for a nice, crisp fold so that it stands well and looks good. As Kate Pullen of The Spruce Crafts says,
"If you think of the fold as being the backbone of the card, you will realize how important it is. If you are going to put a lot of time and effort into making a card, then make sure you have a neat clean fold to really make the card look its best."
Dorne's card will be landscape, so she folds the main piece of card in two like this:
5. Using double-sided tape, Dorne sticks the main background to the first piece of card and then sticks this to the second piece of card.
6. Dorne then adds plenty of double-sided foam pads or sticky pads to the back of each of the layered paper pieces.
7. These layers are added to the card, which adds depth and dimension.
Once the layers are all added, Dorne mounts this on to the final piece of card.
8. If you want to add words to your card, you can now decide what they will be and choose where they will go. You may want to have a simple message on the front and a longer message inside or no words on the front and a few words inside; it's all your own choice! Composing your own words doesn't have to take long at all, as you could simply say 'Merry Christmas'. To make it even easier, here are some tips of what you could write on the front or inside of your card:
- Merry Christmas
- Happy Christmas to one and all
- Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
- Season's Greetings
- Holiday Greetings
- Christmas Wishes
- Joyeux Noël
You could also personalise the words to suit the recipient - for example:
- Merry Christmas Zoe!
- Happy Holidays from the Maher family
For Dorne's card, she decides to add this wording to the front of it:
This is simply printed on cardstock (using a home printer) and mounted on another piece of cardstock and then added to the card using double-sided foam pads.
The wording for the inside of the card is printed on paper that is slightly smaller than the card itself and attached using double-sided tape.
9. For the final step, Dorne uses a brush to add a very small amount of PVA glue to certain parts of the card, sprinkles on iridescent glitter and then shakes the card to get the excess off. You can, however, buy readymade glitter glue if you prefer.
And there you have it - your very own Christmas card, with your own personal touch, which friends and family will certainly love and appreciate this festive season.
Thank you Margaret for walking us through how to make your own Christmas card and also to Dorne for creating this beautiful card.
All handmade card images are courtesy of Dorne Maher.