The majority of people wait until at least October to begin thinking about Christmas, but not yours truly. That's because I love Christmas. Though I do admit I'm happy to move onto other things right after it's over; by Mother's Day I'm ready to give it another go. It's about that time that I begin scouring the Internet to see if I can find any new vintage Christmas clip art to expand my already large collection. That always helps when I begin designing my handmade Christmas cards in the fall. Because of that I don't have to search for images when I'm ready to begin; I can just move right onto being creative and building the cards. Since that's a complicated process, I'm always happy to have image searching out of the way.

One aspect I do leave until right before Christmas, though, is the creation of personalized Santa letters for the kids in my family. These can't really go out until the beginning of December because they actually have to be sent to a post office located at the North Pole for a postmark. They're then mailed to the kids in stamped, addressed envelopes I provide. The process takes less than 2 weeks, so I don't begin too early. Children get excited enough about Christmas without any help; they don't need to get letters from St. Nick before they've even had Thanksgiving turkey! But it is gratifying to watch them tear open those letters from Santa. Because I make them myself, I'm able to put in details to promote the illusion that the letters really come from him. If they have toys they've been wanting, "Santa" lets them think that they'll only get them if they behave well. If they've been fighting with their siblings at the time the letters are mailed, I also say they must get along with everyone in the house if they want Santa Claus to visit them. Nothing like a little pressure from Santa Claus to get kids to behave!

And I still can't rest even after I get my holiday cards and letters from Santa mailed. I always make handmade New Year cards for a select few friends and family, along with a custom e-mail New Years greeting for the rest. For those I dip into my collection of vintage New Year cards. I make the handmade versions pretty elaborate, since I don't have to make that many. They're a lot of fun to make and I love creating them.

If you'd like to experiment with making your own handmade holiday cards, here are some tips:

  • Use pre-cut, pre-folded cards from the stationary store, or on the heaviest regular card stock your printer will allow.
  • If your printer will take photo paper, you can print the images on different stock from the cards, and trim them down and then paste them to the front of the cards.
  • Lovely specialty and metallic papers are available that you can use to frame the images by cutting pieces slightly larger than the artwork. You can find these at discount stores such as Target, or at craft stores.
  • Glitter glue pens are great for adding shine to images. Just don't use too much! If you do, the cards will not only look cheesy, they will also warp.