Who is still working on their Christmas cards this Sunday night before Christmas? I am. I do them in batches and so some people get them at the very beginning of the month and some people get them right before the holiday. I cheat a little bit on this one – since our anniversary is on New Year’s Eve I always send New Year’s cards, which gives me a little extra time.
Sending and receiving Christmas cards is one of my favorite holiday traditions. Even if they come from someone you don’t keep in touch with any other time of year, it’s such a treat to get something pretty in the mail reminding you someone is thinking of you. When you’re making your list to send cards you get a chance to think about all the people in your life – old and new – who are important in your life and take a minute to let them know. I have been sending Christmas cards since I graduated college. My favorite thing to do after Thanksgiving weekend is to curl up with my box of cards and a full DVR of cheesy made-for-tv Christmas movies. Since Mr. Handsome and I have moved so often in the last 5 years, we’ve accumulated a lot of people we want to keep in touch with, and a card over the holidays is so much more personal than a facebook scroll.
This year, my mother-in-law and I took a fun workshop at The Mint Studio in Del Mar (@mintstudiosd). If you are local and haven’t been to this place yet, you really should go check it out. It is the chicest little DIY studio and they have all kinds of fun seasonal workshops for kids and grownups all the time. The workshop we went to was a holiday envelope design and lettering session led by Priscilla from Yours Truly Calligraphy (I love her designs – check her out on IG at @yourstrulycalligraphy). We took our Christmas Cards and got a lesson in faux calligraphy and water color motifs and then we got to work. We had such a good time, and of course I’m always looking for ways to make everything fancier. The envelopes we made aren’t professional, but they definitely make a statement in the mailbox.
I’m not an artist, but I was able to imitate some of Priscilla’s designs using a black felt tip marker, water color paints and a basic water color paint brush and colored pencils. If you want to give these a try, you probably have the supplies to make them already. Although I am a perfectionist, I have to remind myself these don’t have to be professional to bring a smile I think they really add something special to the card, and I’ve had lots of delighted feedback from those who received them! They would also be adorable with your kid’s artwork on them.
Here’s a sampling of our masterpieces
I loved the classy and classic imagery of the poinsettia Priscilla showed us in her samples. It was simple to recreate with a black marker – then I just filled in the outlines with the watercolors. I took inspiration from there and tried my hand at a few other simple classic holiday motifs.
Candy Canes are another simple motif that’s easy to outline and color. I did the first in a traditional red and a second in pink in white for a more whimsical take.
We used the colored pencils to make garland and string lights that required finer detail. I think my favorite design was the stockings hanging from the garland paired with the gold metallic lettering. It was also the most time consuming, so I think only made two like that.
The pine tree motif was the simplest design we made, but I think it might be the chicest and most polished looking. As my mother-in-law pointed out, the fresh green on the white envelopes makes the trees look like they are on a snowy mountainside.These are the easiest to produce en masse, but there are still a million configurations of clustering them, and then you can decide whether or not they need to be decorated. I made the most of these and they are so fun and easy. The watercolors are so forgiving, even when you make a mistake it looks intentional.
Another classy design was the snowflakes in metallic ink of the black envelopes. I had a few left over from my wedding invitations, so I pulled them out to give it a try. I love the way they came out, and the snowflakes were easy to draw with gel pens. I added the address in crisp white ink.
I did the artwork at the studio, then brought them home to add addresses. I played with a few different types of lettering and spacing this year. It doesn’t matter if they all look the same because each recipient only knows what they received. (And also you just spent like ten minutes decorating the envelope of the card you sent them, they need to calm down if they have complaints about that.)
I liked mixing this this block letter font with a cursive, and of course the gold metallic pen adds sheen.
On some I tried my hand at the “faux calligraphy” we learned in the workshop, but I kept it simple and black to make it pop on the green and white artwork. I like writing the name oversized on a slant and then using the template to print or cursive write the address neatly underneath in straight and evenly spaced lines. It also looks nice in cursive following the arc of the name.
On some of the more elaborate designs I opted for a more simple handwriting in gold ink.
My cheat for families whose last names already end in “S” is to add “family” after the surname instead of pluralizing it, which can look awkward.
As you can see, these take a lot more patience than artistic skill, but I think they add a lot to the card. And that’s what wine and Christmas movies are for.
What do you think (other than that I’m a crazy person for doing this)? Which is your favorite?