Argh! Christmas is so nearly here and you haven’t finished making all those lovely handmade Christmas cards you promised yourself you would do this year! Don’t panic. There is still some time, and these handy hints and tips could help to save you time (and money too!).
1 – Make Multiples at Once
Making 6 copies of a card does not take 6 times as long a making one would.. it is much faster than that. Making small batches of each card design can save a lot of time. Get all your equipment and materials ready, pop a good movie or nice album on.. and go for it.
It can also help to group tasks, for example do all your stamping at once, then later on do your colouring (I like to colour whilst watching tv). Again this saves time as you don’t have to keep getting your gear out over and over.
2 – Grade Recipients to help prioritize
Get your Christmas card list and decide whether each person on it has an A, B or C level card requirement.
A cards are your masterpieces, the special cards for extra special people. The ones that take the longest.
B cards are lovingly handmade by you, but do not need to be quite so ornate (or time consuming) as the As
C cards are for people who won’t actually mind whether you send them a handmade card or not. People you don’t perhaps know very well personally but send cards out of tradition (such as some work colleagues, neighbours or business acquaintances).
If the worst comes to the worst you can send shop bought ones to the C card people. Make multiple copies of the same card for the B card people. Then you can take your time to make the A cards as special as you would like.
3 – Use kits to speed up things
If you are fretting that you still have a lot of cards to make, but very little time, consider buying a kit to save you a lot of the design and creation requirements. Companies like Hunkydory create lovely kits that make large numbers of cards.
You get to assemble the kit, which is of course fun, and will still have a handmade card to give to your recipient. The cards work out to be a lot less expensive than shop brought cards too.
If you have a little more time you could add some of your own individual touches to the kit to make sure your recipient will not have another card quite like yours.
4 – Multi cutting and stamping
Could you cut out more than one die at a time to save a bit of time? Don’t forget to use a magnetic shim or tape down the dies if you are feeding more than one through at a time. Could you layer up the paper or card to cut multiple copies in one pass? This can save quite a bit of time on a big project.
When stamping images to colour, consider stamping a few copies. Then you have spares if you mess one up during the colouring stage (it happens, alcohol pens can leak, for example). Much faster than having to go get the stamps and inkpad etc and stamp it out again.
Generic stamp designs could also be useful in later card making projects, so doing a few extra saves time. When stamping some poinsettias for one card, I did a few more and added them to my spares envelope. Later on I was trying to think of something to add to another card.. and a poinsettia was just the ticket.
Cutting multiples of useful Christmassy diecut could also be handy for this purpose. You can never have too many little stars, for example.
5 – Keep your Christmas resources together
I keep all my Christmas stamps in one box. All my Christmassy papers are in their own box. And all my Christmassy dies are together on magnetic sheets.
When I want to work on Christmas cards I can grab my Christmas resource boxes and I am good to go. This saves a lot of time over having to hunt down bits and pieces from a far bigger stash each time.
It also helps for inspiration. I can look through the Christmas stamps, for example, for inspiration on what to do for the next card.
6 – Mix and Match your resources
On this card I have used the cute little fox stamp from Lawn Fawn’s “Into the Woods” set. His hat, the sentiment and the snowflake are all from Lawn Fawn’s “Toboggan Together” set.
Often items from one stamp set will go great with bits from another, even one by a totally different company.
This is a great way to get a unique look and to get more variety from limited resources.
It is also a lot of fun seeing what combos work. Hint – Lawn Fawn’s various stamp sets are ideal for this, something they clearly have in mind when creating them.
7 – Get the kids involved
Children love making things, so perhaps have them help you making the cards this year? Maybe by helping you with the routine parts of your card designs, such as doing the die cutting or snipping a bunch of ribbon to a certain length, or sorting bead sizes for you. Or you could give them some supplies and suggest that they make some of the cards themselves. Family members will no doubt be thrilled to to receive a card made by a youngster. Meanwhile you can get on with other ones.
8 – Look for short cuts that you wouldn’t usually use
I love making inked backgrounds. Or stamped backgrounds. Or intricately paper pieced patchwork backgrounds. But if time is of the essence, I use a piece of printed scrapbook paper instead!
Substitute a colourful clip art image for your usual hand-coloured stamped image (ideal for those C cards). Or how about a preprinted topper? I have a pile that have come free on magazines over the years. I prefer to make my own artwork for cards.. but if I need to make something at the last minute this little stash is a lifesaver!
Don’t forget I have a wide range of ready-to-use toppers, die cuts and other embellishments in my Tin Teddy Die Cuts shop on Etsy.
Of course you are not stupid (that is just what the acronym uses) .. but we all need reminding now and then that simple is sometimes actually the best option.
When you have lots of time you can make the ornate, all singing and dancing cards. The cards with multiple matting and layering, numerous handmade embellishments, complex folding techniques and gorgeous coordinating inserts.
When there are just a few days left and you still have a lengthy To Do list.. then simple cards are the order of the day. A single image with a greeting really can be more than enough.
Some of the most beautiful cards I have seen are actually some of the simplest. Plus simple cards tend to be lighter, and flatter – so cheaper to post too!
10 – Get some Inspiration
Struggling to know what to actually make? Hop on over to Pinterest and search for “Christmas Card”.. you will drown in amazing, inspirational ideas. Try searching for “handmade Christmas card”, “stamped christmas card”, “christmas crafts” and so on for even more ideas. Repin the ones that you most like onto your own board and then use it when you need a few ideas.
Remember that inspiration is rarely about looking for ideas to actually copy. Look for colour schemes that you love, layouts that you could adapt to incorporate your stash, techniques that you would love to include.
And don’t forget that there are thousands of tutorials on YouTube where talented crafters show you how to make great Christmas cards. Again you don’t have to follow them to the letter, but grab ideas, inspiration and techniques to get you started on your own creations.
Some useful links to other Tin Teddy blog posts:
Check out Top Ten Christmas Card YouTube Video Tutorials for my favourite card making tutorials – bound to inspire you!
Here is a tutorial on how to make some really fast and easy Christmas gift tags
A little tutorial to make a quick and easy stamped reindeer Christmas card. (the one shown next to tip number 9).
Why not add a little extra to your next handmade card and make it even more special? Here are 10 little extras you can make to add to your greeting cards. They are lightweight, economical and fun!
If you are intending to sell your handmade craft products, check out Episode 13 of the Craft Seller Success Podcast from Tin Teddy. This episode, Preparing for Christmas Time Craft Selling, has lots of handy hints. You can listen to the podcast or read the full transcript.