Christmas index

Make a Christmas card

The first commercial Christmas cards were sold in London in 1843. Here are some ways to make your own Christmas cards.

Material
Decorate the card
Making a card on the computer

Material

You can make a card of card, naturally. It must be thin card. This is possible to buy in craft shops. In fact it's possible to buy ready-made blank cards, front and inside, complete with envelopes. If you prefer to buy a sheet of thin card and card it out yourself, then think about the envelope first. Find a blank envelope - these can be bought from stationery stores or even supermarkets. The card is folded, of course, so the basic rectangle of the unfolded card is about twice the size of the envelope. But the finished card must fit inside the envelope, so make the rectangle of the card a bit less than twice the size of the envelope. Make sure that you can slide the card easily in and out of the envelope before decorating it. If it is too big, you can trim it of course.

If you cannot find any card, or it is too expensive, then you can make a card from a sheet of paper. Use ordinary paper, the type that you would use to print something from the computer. In Britain, this would be A4. Fold it in four. This makes it stiff enough to stand up. It does mean that at one corner and two edges, there are four pieces of paper rather than two. If this worries you, then put some tiny dabs of paste or glue inside close to the edge, between the first and second layer, and between the third and fourth.

If you want to save even more money, then find some paper which has been printed on one side only. This often happens when people print stuff out on the computer! Fold the paper so the white side is outside and the used side inside.

If you make a paper card in this way, you will need to find an envelope of the right size. Stationery shops sell different sizes of envelopes. Take your folded card into the shop and find the correct size. If you cannot find the right size, then you may have to trim the paper to fit the envelope. Of course, if you are giving the card in person rather than sending it through the post, you may not need an envelope.

Paper Christmas card

Decorate the card

You need to decorate the front, and write a message and sign it with your name inside.

Decoration is the fun bit. You can draw or paint a picture. If you don't have any ideas, then try looking at other Christmas cards. If you have old cards from last year, you can cut out bits that you like and stick them on. Christmas catalogues often have Christmas pictures as well. You can look on the internet such as Google Images to find pictures. Don't just look up 'Christmas', try 'Christmas food', 'Christmas decorations', 'angels', 'stars', 'Christmas tree', 'snowflake', 'robin' and so on. If you try 'Christmas clip art black and white' in Google images, you may find pictures that you can colour in. You can also stick on stuff, such as scraps of brightly coloured paper, coloured sticky tape, sequins, ribbons. Shops often sell exciting decorations for wrapping Christmas presents, and they may work on cards as well. But remember, if you want it to fit in an envelope, you can't stick too much on!

There are some ideas for making stars for a Christmas card on this website. Click here for a simple star and click here for a star made of lines which you can draw, or make with thread. You can design a snowflake, print it out, and cut it out to stick on a card. You can do some paper cutting such as a snowflake, stick it on some contrasting coloured background paper, and then stick the whole thing on the front of the card.

If you are interested in pressing flowers, they make beautiful cards. You can buy special flower presses, but all you need to do is pick flowers (from your garden please if you are in Britain, not the wild!) Arrange them on a piece of paper, put another piece of paper on top, and put several heavy books on top of that. They will flatten and dry out. A few leaves add to the pattern. Some flowers lose their colour and some don't. This will take some time, so perhaps ought to be thought of well before Christmas, when there are some flowers around!

Christmas tree

If you want to do your own decoration but don't feel that your artistic efforts are up to it, then here is a very easy way to make a Christmas tree. Get some green paper. Cut some triangles out. They can be all the same size but it's better if they vary slightly in size. Stick the biggest triangle near the bottom of the card. Stick the next triangle above, so it overlaps slightly, then the next and so on. If you're not sure, try arranging them on the card before you stick them down. It's already a Christmas tree, but you could draw on baubles, tinsel, lights and other decorations if you want. Use felt-tipped pens, or a gold pen if you have it. Or stick on other brightly coloured scraps on paper.

You need to write inside the card as well. There is usually a message, such as "Happy Christmas", or if you want a more neutral message, "Seasons Greetings". But this is your card, so you can write something more intesting if you want! Remember to write your name as well. If you have moved recently and are sending the card to someone, it might be a good idea to write your address as well, in case they don't know your new address.


Making a card on the computer

It is possible to make a card entirely on the computer. This will be a card made out of paper, and folded in four, as described above. However, there is a problem. Take a blank piece of paper, fold it, and make a card as described above, with picture and message. Now unfold the card again. You will find that the picture is upside down! And the message is in the bottom right corner of the paper. This means that if you try to make the card entirely on paper, using a word processor, you will need to have two columns (to get the message on the right-hand side of the paper), and you need to put the picture upside down. Also the picture and message need to be in the right place! Here is some help:

Click here to download a blank card

That link will give you a Microsoft Word page, which already has two columns, and some useful information telling you what goes where. You will be able to either open it or save it on your computer, and open it later (using Microsoft Word). To make the card, delete the bit that says "Put the inside message here the right way up" and replace it with your own message. Remember that you can choose an interesting font, and font colour. You may need to make the font size bigger. (This means that this is a good exercise in using Microsoft Word, often part of the educational curriculum.)

The message is the easier part. Now you need to put the picture in the right place, and upside down! Find a picture that you want to put on the card. If it's on the internet, make sure that you have saved it onto your own computer. (You do that by right-clicking on the picture, which offers a menu for saving/printing/copyng the picture.) You might want to use a photo that you have taken with your camera and downloaded to the computer. If you have a picture in the 'real world', then you might want to scan it into the computer (or if you don't have a scanner, how about taking a photo of it!). Now delete the bit on the card that says "Put a picture here upside down". Click on the button that says "Insert" at the top of the screen, then on "Pictures", and find your picture on your computer. Double click on the picture, and it will appear on the card. But of course it will be the correct way up. It may also be the wrong size. Let's get the size right first. Click on the picture, and you will see little dots and squares round the picture. Click and drag on one of the corner dots, and it should change the size bigger or smaller depending how you drag the mouse. If the picture moves to a different place, then you haven't quite clicked in the right place - try again. Don't use the dots in the middle of the sides. This changes the picture size but means that it gets out of proportion - rather fun, but it might ruin the picture! Once the picture is the right size, you will probably need to move it to the right place. Position the mouse anywhere in the middle of the picture, and click-and-drag it to the right place. Remember that it needs to be in the top quarter of the whole page.

Now for the tricky 'turning upside down'. Well, the easiest way is to choose a picture that is the same either way up! Then it doesn't need to be turned upside down. If you are using a photo, then the photo processing software will probably help you turn it upside down (as you often take photos on their side and need to turn them the right way up). There is a way to turn the picture upside down in Microsoft Word itself. Click on "Format" (top of screen), then "Rotate". Click on "Rotate Right 90°" (which will turn it on its side) then do the same again to get it upside down.

Once you have finished, take a deep breath and print it off. Hopefully, once you have folded the result, you will have a printed Christmas card with everything in the right place. You may need to try a few attempts before you get the positioning right. If you can work it out, you may even be able to print your card on paper already used on the other side to save paper, but if you get it wrong, you will get it over-printed (I've done this - often!)