Handcraft Your Holiday Cheer

Staff Blogger: Ellen Venema, Rhein Center Assistant Coordinator


Times and technologies are changing. Personal correspondence by snail mail seems almost a lost art, but holidays continue to be the exception to the rule. The Christmas season keeps postal workers busy as the nation carries out the beloved tradition of sending cards and gifts.

Since many recipients display cards as part of their holiday décor, let your creativity and personality show by making your own Christmas cards this year.

If you feel you’re running low on time and inspiration, here are some practical tips to get you started:

  • Start early. Make the cards before the hustle of the holiday season. When the time comes, you’ll only need to choose a card and add a personal message.
  • Embrace a pattern. There’s no need for the pressure of creating a range of designs. Pick a design you like and master the process in one sitting. If you want to mix things up, it can be as simple as selecting a new paper color.
  • Make it a family project. Bring everyone together to make the holiday cards. Form an assembly line or divide and conquer. Add some festive music and snacks to set the mood while you enjoy this project together.
  • Avoid waste and frustration. Whether you’re finding free patterns online or drawing your own illustrations, practice on scrap paper before moving to the final piece. This will go a long way in saving time and materials.
  • There are no limits. If you have time to dabble, do. Try out different designs tailored for each special person in your life. Experiment with different techniques and mediums.

If you’re feeling excited but need a little inspiration, here’s a few techniques we tested for you:

  • Get colorful. Collect paint chips from home improvement stores to create bright cutout shapes or to make pieces for a holiday mosaic.
  • Layer up. You can create layered images with thin cutouts using a craft or utility knife to make intricate and precise shapes. This is a great way to incorporate different colors into your design.

If you had fun with this and want to take your card-making game to the next level, visit the C. Kirk Rhein, Jr. Center for the Living Arts next summer and sign up for a card-making class. You can learn techniques such as stamping, iris-folding, quilling and more.

You can also find creative inspiration in classes that aren’t geared toward card making, but whose skills may translate just as well. Even a writing or poetry class can help you find new ways to express your holiday sentiments. Check out the Rhein Center’s online catalog of art classes in early June, and see what appeals to you.

How do you like to personalize your holiday greetings? Share your art with us on Facebook or Instagram by tagging @lakesideohio in your post.

2 Comments on “Handcraft Your Holiday Cheer

  1. Loved your art/craft article. Any instructions on how to make the printed snowman card shown above? What it is called, or where to find instructions? Did you make a pattern? Needing more arts and crafts in our lives! Thank you.

    • Hi Beatrice,

      Thank you for your kind words about the card-making article!

      The following link is a lesson plan I found on Google for some traditional paper-cutting techniques. It’s lacking some instructional details, as the teacher would have had more materials for the class, but it describes the basics of a few different techniques that could be googled further. https://umfa.utah.edu/sites/default/files/2017-10/Traditional-Paper-Cutting.pdf

      There’s also the Japanese art of Notan, which would use a similar cutting technique, but result in very interesting positive/negative images.

      As for patterns, I think any picture/stencil could be adapted for the technique, just simplifying it down to basic shapes and shadows.

      I hope this helps you explore a fun new craft this winter, and maybe you’ll come enjoy the Rhein Center next summer!

      Happy crafting!

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