Creating Home-made Thank-You Cards

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After our Thanksgiving dinner, the conversation usually revolves around things and people for which we're thankful. As I've thought about those people that have helped me so much in my life, I want to thank them with something more than just a passing word, and to encourage my children to do the same. That's in part why I started making homemade cards a few years ago. Expressing my thanks not only through my words but also through the effort of making the cards themselves seems to add credibility to what I say. And it is an effort, particularly for me, since I haven't a creative bone in my body and barely five minutes in my day to spare. But I've found a way, and I encourage you to try it, to find satisfaction in making something with your hands and in cementing those relationships that are meaningful to you. Involving your children in the process is not difficult, since it's mostly cutting and taping.

Here's what I do:

1. First, plan. This is where the left side of my brain expresses itself: I rarely design any of my own cards. Why should I when there are so many sites out there with ideas that are meant to be copied. My favorite is This is the idea I'm using today:

2. Gather your supplies. Generally, this means 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock, patterned paper, double-sided adhesive, stamps & inks and/or embellishments, ribbon, a paper cutter, and a decorative paper punch or pair of scissors. All of these are available at Walmart or your local craft store. I got almost all of the supplies for this card through Stampin' Up.

The papers used for this version of the card differ somewhat from the original idea for two reasons: 1) these were the supplies I had on hand, and 2) they seem more appropriate for the upcoming holidays.

3. Stamp. I stamped my image on off-white cardstock. When inking up my stamp, I tapped the stamp on the ink pad four or five times to make sure the stamp was thoroughly inked. For some reason, many stampers find it tempting to rock the stamp back and forth on the ink pad. Don't. This is the one step best done just by you.

4. Cut everything. You or your child should then punch the stamped image out with 1" square paper punch. Then, cut four squares, each from different paper and measuring about 1 1/4", using scallop-edged scissors. Cut the card itself from one 8 1/2 x 11" sheet of slate-colored cardstock, turned horizontal and cut exactly in half (5 1/2").

5. Assemble. First, tie ribbon around the front panel of the card, making sure to use a sharp pair of regular scissors so as not to have frayed ends ribbon ends. Then, insert a brass decorative brad in the red square. Then, have a child attach the stamped image square with double-sided tape to one of the scalloped squares, then the squares to the card itself with puffy double-sided adhesive.

This is the finished product:

It may not be the fanciest card ever made, and it's not perfect, but to me the simple, homemade beauty of the card is part of its appeal.  John F. Kennedy said: "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

How do you express your gratitude? What other ideas do you have for making cards (e.g., manufacturers, web sites, etc.)

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