Tag: Christmas

Five Years of Quirky Christmas Cards

Five years of DIY quirky Christmas cards. These Christmas cards are not your typical perfect, smiling family. Instead, they look to make you laugh through the creative ways the entire family (kids, dogs, chickens, and all) are are put together.
FIve years of Christmas cards.

For the past five years I have been making my own Christmas cards to send out to family and friends. I enjoy putting my own spin on the traditional and I didn’t want to fall into the cookie cutter family photo and generic message that I found time and time again while perusing templates online. As the years have passed my cards have become more quirky and silly. Every year I look forward to compiling images into a new card design and every year I make sure to include the entire family, chickens and all.

Handmade Christmas card
A handmade Christmas card

The very first year I sent Christmas cards out was in 2013. Nick and I had been married two and a half years and I decided it was time to start a new Christmas tradition.

My very first card was my most complicated, I made everything by hand then scanned the completed card into the computer before sending it off to be printed. For the base, I collaged old book pages on a 8.5″X11″ sheet of paper. I then printed the words “Merry Christmas” in different fonts onto the collaged paper. Next, I ripped it up and layered it on card stock cut to the size of a postcard. I then printed one of our engagement pictures on a laster printer, and created a Mod Podge transfer of the image. Read the specifics on how to create Mod Podge image transfers here. I wanted the edges of the image to blend into the background, so I matched the color in the picture with colored pencils and scribbled on the edge of the image to blend it out. I then layered ripped up book pages, pieces of the printed image, and discolored paper on the right side of the front to create a space to put text. I did the same on the back of the card to create another space for text. Once the collage was done, I scanned it into the computer. I then used Photoshop to add the words on the front and back.

When my creation was finally complete, I sent them off to a local printer and had them printed out postcard style, with the image on the front and back.

For Christmas 2014, I did more digital editing on the front of the card, while I kept the collaged look on the back. For the back, I once again printed a sheet of paper that had “Merry Christmas” repeated. I glued this to a postcard size base. I then ripped up book pages and off-white paper to create a space for text. Next, I cut out pictures of our two puppies and 4 chickens, a new addition to our household. I glued the cut out images to the back then scanned the image into the computer. Once the image was scanned in, I used Photoshop to add the text.

For the front of the card I used another picture from our engagement photo session. I added the green scribbles using the paintbrush tool in Photoshop. I then scanned in a strip of ripped up book pages with a strip of off-white paper glued on top. I took the image, removed the background, and layered it on top of the green scribbles. I then added the text on top.

Once Christmas 2015 rolled around I decided it was time to move away from the book page collage look and try something new. Both the back and front were completely done using Photoshop.

For the front I simply added text on top of a picture of our newborn son, Cooper. For the back I added text around one edge of our family photograph. I added pictures of our chickens and puppies on the right side, to help balance out the text. For the animal pictures, I used a magnetic lasso to cut them out, then removed the background. If you save a file as a .png, it will keep the background transparent when you add it to another file. It took awhile for me to cut out each animal head, but the end result was worth the time.

Once the images were complete, I send them off to my local printer. I did have an issue with the text being cut off, a hard lesson to learn. For future cards I tried not to put the text so close to the edge.

The Christmas 2016 card is still my favorite to date. I love the simple, yet quirky look. Like my 2015 card, I layered text on top of a picture in Photoshop. For the back, I cropped pictures of all our chickens, dogs, and Cooper to squares and converted them to black and white images. It ended up being the perfect number to fill the space. Our little family grew between 2015 and 2016 from 4 chickens to 11, 2 dogs to 3, while our child count stayed at one. With so many new members of our family to include, it was a bit of a puzzle to work it out. On the right side of the card I included another human only family picture. There was just enough space between the two sections of pictures to include the text.

This year, our family once again grew with the addition of baby girl Kennedy. I love this card mainly because of the amazing Santa picture, thanks to Jeff Roffman. I wanted a picture with Kennedy, Cooper, and Santa on the front, but the picture of Cooper and Santa was too priceless to not include it. I opted to make it the main picture, and added a smaller circle cropped image of sweet Kennedy snoozing with Santa. Needless today, neither child told Santa what they wanted this year. The circle picture and text were both added using Photoshop.

On the back I once again ventured into the world of picture cut outs. I once again used the magnetic lasso tool in Photoshop to remove the background of pictures of all our chickens and pups. I wanted it to look like they were sitting behind Nick, so I layered one version of our family photo in the background, added the animals, then layered another family picture on top, with the background cut out where the animals were placed. I then added a transparent white rectangle on the left and layered text on top.

In addition to Christmas cards, I have also designed my own birthday and shower invitations. I have plans to create a post about all the crafts I did for Cooper’s first birthday. Be on the look out for that in the near future. The bottom image is a shower invitation I designed for my brother and sister-in-law. I created blog posts about a fabric tassel and personalized photo banners I made to decorate for their shower.

Check out my other Christmas crafts below:

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! Thanks for checking out my blog post about my annual Christmas cards. Help me spread the word about Christmas crafts by sharing on your social media site of choice. Thanks for stopping by!

Five years of DIY quirky Christmas cards. These Christmas cards are not your typical perfect, smiling family. Instead, they look to make you laugh through the creative ways the entire family (kids, dogs, chickens, and all) are are put together.

Christmas Craft: Baby’s First Ornament

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November 12th, 2015 my sweet baby boy was born. Between the visitors, nurses, doctors, and mentally processing my new baby and title as mom, I barely remember our hospital stay. I do remember the excitement of packing up our things, trying to figure out how to put Cooper in his carseat the first time, and the mounting anxiety as we got closer to home. I walked in the door, sat down, looked at Nick and my creation, and felt terrified. We had a tiny human to look after.

Four and a half weeks later I still feel moments of terror thinking about the responsibility we took on. However, the fear is now mixed in with laughter, excitement for each new day and new thing he does, and unconditional love for this little man.

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Once things began settling down Nick and I realized Christmas was just around the corner. Coop’s first big outing was to our local Lowe’s to pick out our Christmas tree. The next few days were spent unpacking Christmas boxes and transforming our house into our own Christmas wonderland.

As I set out the stockings I came to the sudden realization that this was Cooper’s first Christmas and he needed Christmas things. He needed presents, a stocking, and of course, baby’s first ornament. I immediately went to my favorite shopping website, Etsy, to see what I could find.

After much research I fell in love with a polar bear stocking, handmade in Ireland, from Santa’s Sock Central. Despite being December already, the stocking was shipped out quickly and arrived in plenty of time. My first item was checked off the list.

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Next, I began the hunt for the perfect ornament. I searched through page after page on Etsy and found nothing that peaked my interest. I felt the majority of the ornaments aired on the side of cheesy. I wanted something sentimental, traditional, and interesting. I wanted an ornament Cooper would gladly take and put on his own tree one day.

After coming up empty handed I decided it was time for another craft project. I would find a way to personalize an ornament for him. I ended up finding a beautiful hand blown glass ornament from Grow Gallery, and knew it would make the perfect base. I decided to use glass paint to put Cooper’s handprint and his birth date on the ornament. It would be quick, easy, and exactly what I was looking for.

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To personalize the ornament all I needed was the ornament, glass paint (non-toxic), a paint brush, and paper towels for clean up.

We waited until Cooper was good and tired until Nick and I attempted the first hand print. We quickly painted his hand and tried to immediately press it to the ornament. However, as soon as the paint hit his hand, his little fingers curl into a fist that was difficult to uncurl. By the time we had his hand flat the paint was smeared on everything. By the time his hand made contact with the ornament half the paint had dried. It was a complete failure.

Three attempts later I decided the hand was too much, a footprint would have to do. Once again I waited until he was fast asleep and carefully pulled his foot from his onsie footie.

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At every stretch, groan, and deep breath I froze for a moment, hoping he wouldn’t wake up. Next, I applied the paint, and held my breath as I waited for him to wake from his slumber.

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Surprisingly, he stayed fast asleep through the foot painting, and didn’t wake up until his foot made contact with the ornament. The first try I got a clean print that only needed light cleaning up around the edges. I used a thinner paintbrush to add his birth date under this heel.

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After air drying for four days I baked the ornament in the oven for 20 minutes at 325 degrees to set the paint. I love the end product and how personal it is. Once I gave up on the hand print and opted for the “mistletoes” print, the printing process only took a few minutes from start to finish.

Thanks for taking the time to check out my blog! Help me spread the word about my arts and crafts by sharing with others. I couldn’t do it without you! Merry Christmas, happy holidays![subscribe2]

Craft Project: Christmas Ornament Wreath

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The DIY Christmas ornament wreath is a project I have seen circulating crafting websites for many years. While this isn’t a new or innovative craft I loved the look, wanted to make my own, and share my experience with you. This wreath was made in preparation for Christmas 2014, and this year I rounded out the look of the exterior of my house with matching twig and ornament wreaths for my windows. Check out the pictures of that finished product below!

When I say Christmas is my favorite time of year, I mean Christmas is my favorite time of year. My mood begins a slow rise as Halloween approaches, it marks the beginning of the holiday season. I get another boost as Thanksgiving reaches the horizon, knowing Christmas is right around the corner. While I am a Christmas enthusiast, I am also a strict seasonal rule follower. No Christmas decor should appear until the day after Thanksgiving. This means when the time finally comes to go Christmas tree shopping and dust off my many boxes of nutcrackers, I need to make the most of it for the short stretch between turkeys and santas.

Because Christmas only lasts a month (or longer depending how long it takes me to de-decorate post Christmas) that month is jam packed with Christmas music, egg nog, shopping, wrapping paper, and holiday decor. It is very typical for my holiday season to also be filled with holiday crafts. I love making gifts for others and revamping my holiday decor. Last year I decided to finally take the plunge and create my own ornament wreath. Check out supplies, instructions, and tips below!

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This wreath appealed to me because it requires few supplies, the supplies are cheap, and the end product is beautiful. All you need to get start is:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Wire hanger
  • Round ornaments
  • Ribbon (optional)

I found the wire hanger in my closet and I purchased the ornaments and ribbon at Hobby Lobby during one of their 50% off sales. I loved the color and textures of the ornaments and they were an amazing price. However, the price did reflect the quality of the ornaments, and the tops kept falling off the ornaments as I strung them onto the hanger. Once I completed my wreath I spent the season collecting and reattaching ornaments that kept falling off. As a tip I would add a dab of hot glue to the top of every ornament (where the gold cap and hanger attaches to the base) to make sure they won’t pop apart.

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To get started, reshape your wire hanger into a circle. While reforming the hanger, leave the top intact, it makes it easier to shape while both sides are still connected. Once you are satisfied with your shape, unwrap the hook at the top to open up the circle.

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String your first few ornaments onto the hanger. Since my ornaments were all red, I didn’t worry about creating a specific pattern. If you have a variety of colors, pay attention to the pattern you are creating as you add ornaments. Make sure your colors are balanced.

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Push the ornaments all the way to the other side of the circle, until you hit the unwrapped “hook” of the hanger. Glue the first couple ornaments to the hanger to prevent them from sliding off the hanger as you add more.

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Continue to add ornaments until your hanger is filled up. Push and fit them together, make sure there isn’t much space between them.

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Once all the ornaments are added, rewrap the top of the hanger to create the hook. This can be used to hang the wreath or you can add ribbon. I used a wide, burlap style ribbon to hang my wreath. I wrapped it around the top, and hot glued it to the hanger hook for additional support.

I love the look of this festive wreath. It’s bold, modern, and can my seen on my door from down the street.

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This year, I decided to make a new set of wreaths for my windows to match the ornament wreath I made last season. I once again returned to Hobby Lobby during a 50% sale to collect my supplies.

  • Wreath base
  • Mini round ornaments
  • Neutral floral accents
  • Red berry floral accents
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

I was ecstatic when I found mini versions of the round ornaments I used for the original wreath. They were the perfect way to visually tie the wreaths together.

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This wreath was a piece of cake to make. All I did was hot glue three mini ornaments to the front, then I intertwined the neutral floral accents and red berry accents into the wreath, no glue needed, and I was done! I am a brand new Mom with a brand new four week old at home with me, and I was able to put together four wreaths during his nap.

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I placed the ornaments and floral accents off center and added the same burlap ribbon I used for the ornament wreath to hang it. After adding the ribbon I realized I still needed a wreath hanger to hang them on my windows, but I was still able to use the ribbon in conjunction with the hanger.

Thanks for checking out my DIY holiday wreaths! Although Christmas is quickly approaching you still have time to put together your own wreaths before Christmas arrives. Help me spread the word about my craft projects by sharing with others on your social network of choice. Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and thanks for stopping by!

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Visual Journal Page 21: Holiday Get Togethers

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Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. I love the anticipation of Christmas Eve, a restless sleep, followed by the excitement when you realize it’s finally morning. As the years have gone by I still get the Christmas day butterflies, but the focus has begun to shift. Rather than looking forward to opening all of my gifts, I have grown more excited to see the expression on other people’s faces as they open the gifts I carefully selected for them. The season has transformed from presents and toys to people, which is the true meaning of Christmas. Bringing loved ones together to celebrate an exceptional birthday.

As an adult I have also begun to realize more and more that Christmas is not a day, it is truly a season, a good solid month of preparation and celebration. For me Christmas begins the day after Thanksgiving (and not a minute earlier… we must respect our fall holidays!) and can last a few days beyond the 25th of December. The season isn’t just one day of ripping through gifts, it is made up  of decorating my house, shopping, eating candy can ice cream, drinking egg nog, watching holiday movies, and seeing those who live far away come together again.

I am lucky to still have very close friends from high school. We have remained friends despite the number of miles that have grown between us. Over the years we have scattered, only two of us remain in Atlanta, with one in Nashville, and two in Los Angeles. Being in our twenties, early in our careers, and still adjusting to the cost of the adult world, we are only in one place once or twice a year. However, without fail we all make it together during Christmas.

Once we are finally all in one city it still takes time to get together. Family comes first, we all respect that, but we always find time for each other. The tradition began in high school, a night of chocolate fondue at the melting pot, post-Christmas. It’s a way to extend the season just a little bit longer. The night consists of a lot of chocolate, laughs, and a gift exchange. Somehow we continued into college, with temporary boyfriends periodically attending, and a switch to a secret Santa style exchange to accommodate our empty college student bank accounts.

Four years post college, ten years since our first Christmas celebration in high school, we still enjoy ripping into our gifts over chocolate fondue. Now some of us have more permanent guests, in the form of husbands, others are off pursuing their careers in faraway lands. However, no matter where we are, what we are doing, or who we have become I am comforted knowing during the holidays we always find time for each other.

SUPPLIES

  • Visual Journal
  • Rubber cement
  • Scissors
  • Christmas cards
  • Colored pencils

HOW TO

This page was simple enough to make, and I didn’t have to look far for inspiration. After the 2010 holiday season came to an official close, I found myself at home finding homes for all of my new presents. Wrapping paper was put in the trash, bags were tucked away for next year, and cards were read over a final time before they followed the wrapping paper.

Every year I hate throwing out my Christmas cards, someone put time and effort to pick it out and write a nice note inside. However, I have been in a place when I saved them, and keeping them was just as pointless as tossing them. They collected dust, and additional cards, as they sat year after year in a box taking up space in my bedroom.

This particular year I felt even more torn about tossing my cards, because my friends chose such unique ones for me that year. Suddenly, it occurred to me to put them in my visual journal to help remember the Christmas season that year. I carefully tucked them into my visual journal folder, and couldn’t wait until the time came to get them back out again.

Once I began working on the page I decided rather than simply gluing the cards down to the page I would cut them up and collage them together. By doing this I was taking an everyday card and turning it into an original work of art. A goal of mine as I work in my journal is to altered every image by fifty percent, this way someone else’s image becomes my own work of art.

I read each card one more time before I began cutting them apart. After playing around with different pieces of the cards, and layering them in different ways, I finally found the perfect layout and I began gluing everything down with rubber cement. Once my Christmas card design was complete I wrote the words with colored pencil. I first layered a dark gray and then a light green on top, to help blend with the colors in the cards.

CHALLENGE

Find a way to remember the holiday season in your visual journal. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or nothing at all, remember a moment of the month of December.

Thanks for reading my post-Christmas post! Help me spread the word about my blog by sharing, liking, tweeting, digging, e-mailing, or subscribing, it’s up to you! Thanks for stopping by!

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Guest Post: Holiday Gift Ideas from Vista Print!

Heartfelt Grandparent Gifts for the Holiday Season

Ask any grandparent what the favorite gifts they’ve ever received are and they’ll probably start telling you about things they’ve gotten from their grandchildren. Grandparents really cherish items given to them by their grandkids. It’s funny – even people who were ruthless about throwing out their kids’ hand-made treasures suddenly become all mushy and sentimental when they become grandparents. They ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ over every handprint picture and crudely formed clay mug and they prominently display these gifts in their homes.

This unadulterated delight is good news for anyone racking their brain for grandparent gifts ideas. The truth is that as long as the item is from the grandchildren it is pretty much guaranteed to be loved. There are definitely some items that tend to be grandparent favorites though, so if you’re looking for some gift inspiration going into the holiday season, here are a few options to consider:

Photo Calendar – Grandparents love nothing more than to display photos of their grandchildren all around the house, so a photo calendar makes perfect sense. Don’t worry; you don’t have to possess any super computer skills or go to a pricey print shop to create a custom photo calendar. These calendars can be easily and inexpensively made through an online print shop. This makes a particularly good gift for grandparents who live far away. Having a year’s worth of photos to flaunt is sure to bring many smiles.

Framed Artwork – Parents truly appreciate the special art pieces created by their kids, but there are often just too many of them to keep around. Rather than making the difficult decision to toss some of the creations, why not make them into prized grandparent gifts. All you have to do is choose some frames for them or have several of them bound into keepsake books. They’ll make excellent conversation pieces for years to come and will be great for sparking trips down memory lane.

Home Baked Specialties – While it may not be a gift that sticks around for long, sending homemade cookies or other holidays goodies that the kids had a hand in making is a wonderful gift for grandparents. In fact, if you follow the instructions for handprint cookies on MarthaStewart.com the kids can literally have a hand in making the cookies and grandparents will be delighted to serve these little conversation starters to their holiday guests.

Crafty Ornaments – For a personal gift that will keep on giving year after year, try making some ornaments with the kids. You can create them completely from scratch or stop by a craft supply store and get some ready-to-decorate ornaments to start you off. Either way, the grandparents will be thrilled to have a gift that they can pull out every holiday season and be reminded of their grandchildren.

Photo Jewelry – If you want to go a little less handmade, but still personal then consider a locket necklace or some photo cufflinks with pictures of the grandkids. It will be something to show off and treasure for years to come.

Gifts for grandparents from their grandchildren are all about the sentiment. As previously mentioned, you really can’t go wrong here. As long as the kids are involved in some way, the gift will be well received.