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How to Create Christmas Cards

Updated on June 15, 2012
Dbro profile image

I am Diane Brown (dbro), an artist and illustrator living in Texas. I enjoy all phases of the creative process. Enjoy and comment!

Christmas Card 2011, "Sledding Teddy" original watercolor 10 x 8"
Christmas Card 2011, "Sledding Teddy" original watercolor 10 x 8"

Introduction

I have been creating my family's Christmas card for the last fifteen years. It is a process I learned by doing. In the early years I printed my cards (always black and white back then) with the old tried and true paste-up method. These days I do all of my printing preparation on the computer. I must say here that I am NOT a digitally savvy person at all, so if I can do it, anyone can.

In this article I will walk you through my process for creating our Christmas cards using last year's card as an example. This is it on the right. My goal was to create a fun and colorful card that reflects the joy and hope of the season.

Postcard that inspired this card
Postcard that inspired this card
My original concept drawing on an envelope
My original concept drawing on an envelope

Where do Ideas Come From?

The idea for this particular card came to me while I was driving home from dropping my son off at school. I had recently received some promotional post cards from the Sierra Club that showed a grizzly bear. I was charmed by the bear's engaging expression and honey coloring. I was turning this image over in my mind and thought about how fun it would be to see this bear riding downhill on a sledding disk. I further embellished this mental image by putting the bear into a colorful Nordic sweater and hat. As soon as I got to a place I could stop safely, I quickly drew a sketch of my bear character on the back of an envelope. This little image became the genesis of our Christmas card for the coming Christmas. I must mention that this incident happened in May. I firmly believe that when inspiration strikes, you must respond as soon as possible. This helps your ideas retain their spontaneity and freshness. Also, as a practical matter starting Christmas ideas in spring or summer helps ensure that you will have your product ready in time for the big day!

My inspiration for my other Christmas cards have come from a myriad of other places. Some have been inspired by paintings from the Renaissance, medieval icons, magazine ads - the sources are too numerous to mention. All of them take a kernel of an idea from which my own image and message emerge. Take a moment to view my Christmas card gallery below to see some examples of some of my other cards. I'm flattered to know that a few of the recipients of my cards have collected them over the years. How great is that?

Our Christmas Card 2008,  Original Watercolor 10 x 8"  Based on a Stained Glass  Design
Our Christmas Card 2008, Original Watercolor 10 x 8" Based on a Stained Glass Design
Our Christmas Card 2006,  Original Watercolor
Our Christmas Card 2006, Original Watercolor
One of my early cards (1999),  Pen and Ink, Ribbon hand colored on cards
One of my early cards (1999), Pen and Ink, Ribbon hand colored on cards

The Christmas Card Gallery

Here are a few examples of my Christmas cards from years past. When I print my cards I have them made into postcards. I like this format because I can get four cards from one sheet of card stock. Additionally the postage for postcards is cheaper than for a traditional card. However, if you wanted to print regular folded Christmas cards, you could certainly do it. You would just have them printed two-up as opposed to four-up for the postcard.

Once I find my inspiration, the actual production of the artwork begins. Since I am a watercolorist, most of my cards begin as paintings, though I have done many cards in pen and ink. I like to work in an 8 x 10" format, since this size can be reduced easily to 4 x 5", perfect for putting four-up with publisher software. The 8 x 10" size is also big enough to let me add detail and intricacy to the image.

When the artwork is done I either photograph the work or scan it on my scanner. Then the file is imported into the publisher software and saved. This publisher file is then sent to the printer where it is printed on card stock and cut into individual cards. I also have the back (or verso) of the card printed with my selected text (usually a Biblical quote or verse from a Christmas Carol) along with the right side of the card formatted for the address of the recipient and the stamp.


Our Christmas Card, 2009, Pastel, Original Dimensions 20 x 16"
Our Christmas Card, 2009, Pastel, Original Dimensions 20 x 16"

Conclusions

Creating your own Christmas cards is a fun and rewarding project. You get to customize your card to portray the images and messages you choose in a distinctly personal way. As you have read, the process is not difficult or expensive. I hope you'll consider building a tradition of personally designed and created cards for yourself and your family. It can bring an extra dimension of meaning to this festive, beautiful season.

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    • profile image

      dreamseeker2 4 years ago

      Cool hub! Wish I had the talent! But, even so I really enjoyed this! : )

    • Dbro profile image
      Author

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thanks, dreamseeker2! I'm glad you enjoyed this. It's a lot of fun for me to come up with designs each year. There are lots of ways to create cards - many that don't require drawing or painting skills. Anyone with an eye for color and/or design can create beautiful cards. I'd encourage you to try!

      Thanks again for your kind comments!

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      Your Cards are beautiful. I loved your phrase "when inspiration strikes, you must respond as soon as possible". What most of people lack is not an inspiration but , alas, ability to draw like that :( Can you tell me, is it possible to learn to draw if you are absolutely ignorant about it and never tried anything more but "house with windows" in the childhood ? :) SHARED

    • Dbro profile image
      Author

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thank you, Pavlo! I'm glad you enjoyed this hub. Yes, it is entirely possible to learn to draw at any point in life. You will need dedication and practice and possibly a good teacher. There are many books on drawing instruction that are very helpful, too. I would say the most important aspect of learning to draw is practice. One who wishes to learn to draw must be patient with themselves. Too often the "would be" artist is much too hard on themselves and their early attempts at drawing and will give up too soon.

    • Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

      Pavlo Badovskyi 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

      Ok, when I retire and have plenty of time I shall hire you as online teacher, so just 20 more years and you will have one more student LOL.

    • Dbro profile image
      Author

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      I'd love to have a student like you, Pavlo! Your open mind and heart would make a great art student. I will be waiting, and God willing, I'll be around to teach you what I know about art and drawing. :)

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I love this idea. I have no artistic talent as far as drawing or painting, but I like to be creative. I bought card stock last year, plus embellishments at Michael's and connected the cards with decorative fasteners. Everyone loved them! You've inspired me to start creating them again! I enjoy a personalized card MUCH better than store bought. It shows thought goes into it. I love when you wrote this: "when inspiration strikes, you must respond as soon as possible..." so true. I'm an author and sometimes (most times) ideas pop into my head late at night of all times. I can tell that reading your hubs is going to inspire me to keep busy with more projects!! (That's a good thing).

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Epbooks, we are birds of a feather! Though you say you have no artistic talent, I believe everyone has creativity and the love of beauty ingrained in them. For some of us, (like you and me) I guess it's just closer to the surface.

      I'd love to see the cards you made. You are right, that cards someone took the time to create themselves are so much more meaningful than something purchased at the store. It takes time and effort, but I think it is very much worth it. Here it is June and I'm already seeking inspiration for this coming Christmas!

      Thanks again for your time and great comments!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      We truly do flock together! :) When I make the cards, I will do a hub about them. I'll try to do it in the next two weeks. Right now, I'm writing another book and dabbling in some photography. Having a blast!!

    • Dbro profile image
      Author

      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      I'm so happy to have found you, epbooks! We are so alike in our creative approaches. I am always busy with my work and always looking for new projects to undertake. At least we can say we are never bored!

      I look forward to seeing your cards. Since I'm following you, I'll be notified when you publish your hub. Good luck with all of your projects. I know they will be created with lots of heart - it's obvious by the way you speak about them!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I feel the same way. I have a feeling we are going to be having many conversations! I love your hubs. They are very inspiring. So fun!

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Thanks, epbooks! I really enjoy your hubs too! This is what makes HubPages so much fun. If it weren't for HubPages, we probably would have never known each other. What a pity that would be!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      So true. I only joined within the past two weeks,not knowing what to expect at all...but I'm so glad I did. I love it!

    • Dbro profile image
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      Dbro 4 years ago from Texas, USA

      Welcome to HubPages! I didn't realize you were new to this, you are so polished in your writing and your presentation! We have definitely got a new asset among our writers!

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks so much- coming from you that means a lot! I've been writing (self-publishing) for three years and I had another blog account on blogger.com...but I only recently discovered this and love the interaction. So awesome!

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