Monday, January 27, 2014

Handmade Thank Yous

This year I decided to actually make some New Year's Resolutions. This isn't something I typically do. I guess it's because I figured that I wouldn't actually DO what I set out to do, and why in the world would I want to start my year out failing right off the bat. That is definitely the "pessimistic" way of looking at it. This time around I didn't want to start a new year with a pessimistic attitude. This year I've designated 2014 the Year of "Change" (this was actually inspired by a spot I saw on the Today Show about dedicating a "word" to each year and putting all your energy into living up to that "theme." You can read more about it here One Word). So keeping the word "change" in mind, I decided THIS year I'd set some resolutions. My list contains some BIG resolutions and some small resolutions. This blog entry is about a small one…writing Thank You Notes.

Some of my New Year's Resolutions

Seems pretty simple, right? You get a gift from someone, someone does something nice for you—you send them a Thank You note. It doesn't take long, but somehow I never seem to get to them. I remember I don't get to them and that weighs on me and makes me feel bad about myself—I need to "change" that.

January is the perfect time to start working on achieving this resolution. The holidays were only a few weeks ago. The family has gotten a whole lot of stuff that we need to say "thanks" for. To help motivate me even further…I still have an envelope of school pictures of the boys that I haven't passed out to family members (dirty little secret—I haven't given out school pictures for the last 2 or 3 years…I pay $45 for each package and they have just been sitting there, in the envelope they were delivered in…what a waste!!! Definitely another thing to "change").

Now, I KNOW I have Thank You cards floating around the house somewhere. I have actually written a few over the years. But of course, I when I really need them, I can't find them. I was going to go out and buy some new ones, and then I came across a picture I had "Instagrammed" of my boys on Christmas morning. This picture was just begging to be shared with family and close friends. I decided that I would make my own "Thank You" cards.

Instagram photo of my two little sweeties. Aren't they adorable? Boy #1 had told me on Christmas Eve "Mom, when we wake up, we're going to go downstairs and you're going to take a picture of us in front of the tree." Sounded like a good plan to me, and look how cute it came out. What a smart kid!

The benefit of making my own cards was that I could use up some supplies I have around the house. I'm always picking stuff up because I figure I'll have a use for it at some point. Or I have left overs from other projects. I love being able to to find uses for this stuff, even if it's been hanging around for years.

First step, get the photo printed...

I used my handy-dandy photo printing app, Kicksend (I really, really love this app) and sent the image to Walmart and printed out a dozen (TIP: Walgreens and Walmart both print out 4x4 pictures. Walmart is 10 cents cheaper per print).

Second step, design the Thank You card….

I knew I had some 5x7 folded card shells in the house from a past invite project I had done. These cards are photo is square. I really wanted to avoid printing ON the card shells, for a couple of reasons: 1) I didn't have a lot of paper and didn't want to risk wasting any if they didn't print correctly. 2) my printer was actually low on ink. A layout came to my mind…I would place the picture, off-center, horizontally on the card shell. I would balance it with some ribbon or trim that I had around the house and add some sort of little "Thank You" graphic on top of the ribbon.

Third step, finding said graphic…

With all the little scrapbooking and card making materials the local craft stores have, I figured there MUST be some little "Thank You" graphics that you can buy on a sheet. I headed over to my local Michael's and went aisle by aisle looking for said "graphic"…NADA! Probably didn't help that A) it was right after the holidays and others were probably also making their own "Thank You" cards, and B) this particular Michael's is getting ready to move across the street and isn't keeping it's shelves stocked.

I was just about to give up and figured I'd just have to go ahead and print my own little graphic (keeping the ink coverage down to try and get as many pieces printed as possible...remember, I was low on ink). I looked over one more scrapbooking/card making display that was right before the registers and BAM! The most perfect little "Thank You" graphic!! A sheet of 8 for just $1.50. The Crafting Gods were looking down on me for sure. I scooped them up with a big grin and headed for home!
"Thank You" stickers found at Michael's for only $1.50


Fourth step, assembly…

So, I had my photos. I had my blank card shells. I had my "Thank You" graphics—I was ready for production! My "vision" was to place the photo of the boys on the card using little black photo corners. I KNEW I had those around the house….well, I thought I did. I looked through my whole craft cabinet and all the other places I store away crafting supplies and NADA! Groan… I was about to scrap the photo corner idea when something in my head went "BING!" and I remembered that I  had a paper punch to MAKE photo corners (my hubby had given it to me for Christmas the year prior). I pulled out by paper punch collection and low-and-behold, my memory was right, there is was…still in it's packaging. The Crafting Gods were still with me and my Craft Cabinet of Requirement (a fellow crafting friend dubbed it that when I told her this story) supplied me with what I needed.

My "Craft Cabinet of Requirement" bestowed on me a paper punch to make photo corners and little photo mount squares.

With paper punch in hand, I found some black paper, and punched out my own corners. I actually ended up liking them better than the basic corners. They are more decorative. Took longer to assemble this part of the Thank You card layout, but in the end it was worth it.

Making my own photo corners. Punched them out of black paper, attached a little square photo mount to each corner of the picture and let it stick out a bit so the paper corner would get stuck to it. Placed the picture and corners on to the card shell and burnished it down along the end of the picture.

Once the pictures were in place, I found some assorted red ribbon that I had around the house and attached a strip to each card with double-sided stick tape. To finish off the design, I placed the cute little "Thank You" sticker on top of the ribbon.
Some of my ribbon stash. I keep ribbon "odds-and-ends" in a couple of glass canisters that I had actually gotten as a wedding gift years ago. I stopped storing sugar and flour in them a while back and found they were the perfect storage container for my crafts.
TA-DA! Handmade Thank You Cards!
Finished "Thank You" Card
I'm really happy with the way they came out and I had fun putting them together. Crafting makes me happy, and when I'm happy, I'm productive…in all aspects of my day.

Fifth step, writing out the "Thank Yous"…

Some people would probably think MAKING the cards was the hard part, but not for me. Once I had the cards done, I sat there and stared at them. What do I write? What do I say? Seems really simple "Thanks so much for the thoughtful gift…", but I wanted to add more of a personal touch, but I seemed lost for words. To get past this speed bump, I considered what the gift was that we had received and gave some thought to who I was writing to, and was able to pull together some thoughtful words. (TIP: make note of who gives you what when you're opening gifts. REALLY helps when you are writing "Thank Yous". I'm adding this to my Resolution list right now…). I really AM "thankful" for all that people do for me and my family, and the gifts they are able to give (whether large or small), and I want the person receiving the note to know that.

Sixth step, mail cards…

I luckily had some very cute Disney movie stamps floating around the house which made an excellent final touch to my cards. I dropped them in the mail and many arrived the next day. I got a text photo from one friend who said "What a nice surprise when I got home." That made me happy.

Stamped Thank You cards, ready to be mailed.

I'm feeling pretty good about my New Year's Resolutions. I'm actually accomplishing things. And pulling this blog entry together is helping me to accomplish another one…"Blogging regularly"

Before signing off, I want to also thank all of YOU who take time to read me thoughts, ponderings, and creative ramblings. I hope some of what I share inspires you to make something, do something, say something. 

Wishing everyone as creative and fulfilling 2014!

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