Make Your Own Holiday Cards

You can create your very own cards to shine, sparkle, and spin. A quick trip to a craft store can net you a few things that can help you turn out beautiful and amazing holiday cards.

While it's true that you can use ordinary paper to make cards, just getting a slightly better kind, such as a good quality construction paper, can make your cards last longer and look better. Fold the paper in half for a big card, or fold it twice for more traditional look.
Crafty tip: unless you are going to be writing with a very light pen, don't get dark red, green, or blue papers!

Now, let's talk scissors. These days, there are a lot more choices than kid-friendly or not. Look for special scissors to create amazing borders: mountains, pillows, scallops, and more. Practice using these on plain paper first before committing them to the good stuff.
Crafty tip: use the scissors on the paper before you fold it to make things easier.

You'll want to get marking pens that don't bleed into your paper. Magic markers or other standard felt tip pens aren't a terrific choice. Instead, try gel pens or paint pens. If you want to add a dusting of glitter powder, do that before you fold/cut the paper.
Crafty tip: write your message in pencil before you write on top of it with a pen.

Fun Ideas for Decorations

Little sisters and brothers can use holiday stickers to make their cards look special in an easy way. Truly, you, too, can find tons of things to decorate cards at a craft store--just be sure to set your spending limit before you go!

Recycle last year's holiday cards (after checking with your grown-ups) to add pieces of art to your own cards. Feel free to cut out just the parts of the picture you want to use.

Make a cut-out card. If you are using a twice-folded card, cut out a circle or an oval on one side of the inside panel. If you have a compass, use that to draw a good circle. To cut it out, take a snip out of the center of the circle first, then cut to an edge. Use a glue stick or Tacky Glue to paste in a piece of holiday art or a small photo.

You can also make a snow globe card! First, make a cut-out card. Then open the card to its original paper size. Take a piece of sturdy, clear plastic (such as Mylar, available at craft stores) and cut it to cover the holiday art or photo. Make sure to add about an extra ½ inch for gluing. A brand called Tacky Glue is a good choice for this. Before gluing down the edges, add ½ teaspoon or so of white glitter. Let it dry, and then refold the card.
Crafty tip: if you would like to see another way to make this kind of card, click here.

Whatever artistic cards you choose to create, you will be taking part in a long-honored holiday tradition.

Those Holiday Cards of Long Ago

Mass-produced holiday cards first appeared in Europe with the early printing presses, hundreds of years ago. As early as 1467, the Christ child appeared on a card in Germany wishing the receiver a good and happy year.

In older times and in other countries, New Year's was a time to give little presents, sometimes food, sometimes jewelry, sometimes money. In some countries, they still prefer to send New Year's cards to Christmas cards.

In Europe and America, people used to spend the long holidays visiting just about everyone they knew--whether they lived down the street or in another county. When separated by great distances, they might send a long letter instead of visiting. In the letter, they would write to tell of all the happenings in the past year. Think about it-that family newsletter is just part of an old tradition.

By the 1840s, lots of people in England were using Christmas cards as a quick and pretty way to send cheery greetings. By the 1880s in America, people were making their own-with scissors, glue, sparkles, doilies, and more, just as you can.

Source: The History of the Christmas Card, by George Buday. Also try Stories Behind the Great Traditions of Christmas.

Want to get more ideas for creating holiday cards? These books and Web sites can help!

Books from the Library

101 Things to Do for Christmas by Debbie Trafton O'Neal
More than just cards, this book has lots of holiday crafts for giving or keeping.

Big Fun Christmas Crafts and Activities by Judy Press
Over 200 Quick & Easy Activities for Holiday Fun!

Hanukkah Crafts by Judith Corwin
Make cards, wrapping paper, gifts, and treats for Hanukkah.

How to Make Holiday Pop-Ups by Joan Irvine
Pop-up cards are a fun surprise for anyone!

Things to Make and Do for Christmas by Fiona Watt
Make Christmas cards and decorations.

If you find you love making cards, why not craft them all through the year? Click here for some wonderful card-making books to help make every day a special one.

On the Web

Christmas Card Messages and Verses
Can't think of what to write on your cards? These wise and sweet thoughts can give you a hand.

Handmade Hanukkah Cards and Invitations
Several kinds of Hanukkah cards to try here. These look quite stylish and grown up.

Hanukkah Sayings
Ideas for greetings inside of Hanukkah cards.

Making Christmas Cards: Simple Merry Christmas
"This Christmas card is simple enough for children and teens to make, but classic enough for anyone to receive. This design is great to make in bulk for card giving and to put together as a bazaar craft."

Paper Star of David Card for Hanukkah
Using just a two kinds of paper, a few folds, and some scissors, you can make a beautiful Hanukkah card.

Pop-up Tree Card
"Make a great (but simple) pop-up card from construction paper."