This time of year can be hectic! You’re probably preparing to travel, gearing up to host guests, or frantically searching for gifts. That’s the ironic thing about the holidays: they’re considered to be the most wonderful time of the year, but they’re also the most stressful! With this DIY Christmas card tutorial, you get the chance to create some stress-relieving art. That art can then be sent to a special person on your Christmas list, whose spirits will be lifted by your thoughtfulness and creativity!
1. Cut Out Your DIY Christmas Card
In this tutorial, I’ll be showing you how to make a 5.5″ x 5.5″ (140 mm x 140 mm) DIY Christmas card. First, cut out a 5.5″ x 11″ (140 mm x 279.5 mm) piece of watercolor paper. (If you’d like to customize the size of your card, the length of the paper should always be double the width.)
Once you’ve cut out the paper, fold it in half lengthwise such that it’s a perfect 5.5″ x 5.5″ square card. Next, print out the simple circle template shown below; you can do so by clicking here.
Cut out the larger circle (5.5″), then center it on the card. Move it very slightly to the left, such that the left side of the circle template is barely off of the card. Then, trace around the template in pencil. The left side of the card should have a centimeter or two of space that wasn’t touched by the pencil. That’s where the card will hinge! Note that if you wish to make a smaller card that will fit in a standard A7 envelope, you can use the smaller circle template instead (5″).
Cut out the card along the lines you traced.
When you open the card, it should now look like this:
2. Write Calligraphy on the Card
For this DIY Christmas card, I’d recommend writing the greeting in the center first. If you start with the calligraphy versus the watercolor border, you don’t risk smudging wet paint! If you have a light box (or a glass table under which you can shine a light), you can trace directly over the Flourished “Happy Holidays!” Calligraphy in the Holiday Calligraphy Worksheet. That way, you don’t have to mess with drawing pencil guidelines or using math to center your words.
You can use any ink to write your holiday greeting! I happened to use Walker’s Copperplate Ink from Scribbler’s, which is an iron gall ink. Scribbler’s is a UK store, so if you’re based in the US, you could try McCaffery’s Penman’s Black, which is also a great iron gall ink.
While iron gall ink looks great because of its slightly faded black color, watercolor calligraphy in shades of green would also look good here! It’s really about what you have at hand and what you feel comfortable using.
3. Paint a Watercolor Wreath Border
The border for this card is simply a larger version of the Watercolor Holiday Wreath Tutorial. For a short set of instructions detailing how to paint this wreath, please visit that tutorial! You’ll start by making six little clusters of berries around the perimeter of the card.
Next, add in some dark green leaves.
Connect the leaves and berries clusters with pine boughs. (Again, the technique for this is meticulously described in the Watercolor Holiday Wreath Tutorial!)
Finally, if you have some gold watercolor, you can finish the wreath border by adding various sizes of gold circles. These circles emulate twinkling holiday lights!
And that’s it! You now have a beautiful and unique holiday card.
4. Send it Out
If you have access to 5.75″ x 5.75″ envelopes, they’re perfect for this card! I used a Paper Source envelope (in “Fig”), Janet Style calligraphy, and the Flourished Holiday Tree from the Holiday Calligraphy Worksheet to make the envelope below.
The circular DIY Christmas card fits snugly in this envelope, and will surprise and delight your recipient with its unusual shape!
I know that not everyone has access to a Paper Source, especially this late in the holiday game, so here’s an alternative: wrap the card like a gift. Put a piece of 5.5″ x 5.5″ card stock behind the card, then use a piece of paper (any smooth paper) and tape to wrap the card up. When you’re finished, the front of the card should be smooth, like an envelope. You can then write the recipient’s address on the paper and send.
Be mindful of two things if you choose to use this method! First, make sure any folds in the wrapping paper are securely taped; you don’t want it catching on the machines at the post office. Second, make sure you add extra postage to account for the irregular size. You can read more about USPS postage rules and fees here.
I am sure that you are being inundated with “holiday this” and “holiday that” right now, but I hope you enjoyed this tutorial all the same! Giving yourself a creative project to make can serve as a really important respite, especially around this time of year. So: when you’ve had it up to *here* with holiday shopping and you’re stressed that the house isn’t ready for your guests, drop everything and pick up your paintbrush. You’ll be glad you did!
PS – TPK Gift Certificates got an elegant makeover last weekend! If you know someone who wants to learn calligraphy, these printable certificates make a great gift. You can check them out in the TPK catalog!