Saturday, December 30, 2006

Altered Christmas Cards

By Christina VanGinkel

The holidays are ending, and decorations are being packed away, when suddenly you come to that pile of Christmas cards that arrived in the mail throughout the preceding days and weeks. What to do with them is always a big question. Should you save them for some unforeseen reason? Should you toss them in the trash? I have the answer. Alter them!

First things first. Not every card is worthy of altering, but many of them are. With scrapbooking and card making such popular hobbies, many of the holiday cards you have been pondering what to do with might simply be altered into embellishments to use in your own layouts and card making ventures. Not only can many of the graphics be suitable for reuse, so can some of the sayings from within, both the pre-printed and the handwritten sentiments, all depending on what they say. If you even think, you might be able to re-use one part of a card or another, save it. Pick up an inexpensive folder for storage, preferably, one made for storing scrap, or papers supplies in, as they are made to protect such products from early aging, and stash your possible choices inside of it.

Actually altering the cards is where your real fun starts. What can be altered with the aid of recycled holiday cards? All sorts of things. Scrapbook layouts and cards of course, as I already mentioned, but many other items too. Cover a container with them, such as a pot for a plant, an empty paint can, a wooden box, or even an empty lunch pail shaped tin. Many craft stores carry these specifically for altering. They make great recipe boxes, memo boxes, or as a file for storing more stuff you might someday use in a scrapbook or on an altered project. Trays are always popular for altering too. Be sure to use a waterproof sealant if you make something such as a tray though, so it can be sued as intended.

You could also use the finished item as a gift or as a container to give another gift in next year during the holidays. You might also wish to keep a container you altered with the recycled holiday images as a reminder of all the friends and family who took their time to wish you a happy holiday this year. I have a large paint can that I covered a couple of years ago, that I keep in my scrap room for various scraps of paper and trim. Journals are always fun to alter, as are old books too.

Just about any item that you can alter can be embellished with graphics and text from the holiday cards that so many of us receive. If you have quite a few, break them down by type. Take some of the more cartoonish images and alter a picture frame to keep the kids' current year holiday photo in, or alter something for the kids themselves. Get them involved if they have wanted to try their hand at your craft supplies, showing them how simple and economical it is to reuse such things as holiday cards, along with supplies you already have.

Besides altering other objects, such as tins and journals, you can also alter the actual holiday cards themselves into other products. One of my favorite uses is tags! Tags can be used for basic gift giving and as embellishments on scrapbook layouts, mini books, and even as pages in a tag shaped album itself. Several years ago, I chose ten of the most luxurious cards I had received through the holidays and cut one large tag from the front of each card. I then embellished each new tag, front, and back. I used brads, glitter tape, stamps, stickers; I even did some embossing on them. I then picked eight of my favorite holiday photos from the past few years (two of the tags were used as the cover, front, and back) and assembled it all together into a holiday themed tag book, which I gave my mother. She loved having what she called her holiday brag book of the grandkids to show to all of her friends, and I felt good knowing that I did it all with what I had on hand, including that year's current crop of holiday cards.

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