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From: Me To: You

January 8, 2009 - Amy Witschey
Here’s a news flash for you. . . the holidays are over. I know, you already knew that and most people breathe a sigh of relief when it’s all over. Others wish the season could be longer. Personally, we still have our Christmas tree up and lit because we just like it and since it’s artificial, we really have no real need to remove it. I’m sure we will eventually, but we’re just not quite ready yet.

Just about everyone I know said they weren’t quite ready for Christmas this year. The holiday just came upon them, almost unexpected. I blame the lateness of Thanksgiving because of the way the days of the week fell this November. It essentially left us with one fewer weeks between the two holidays. Then again life just seems to always be far too busy and there is not enough time to get everything done.

Some people vow they will be more prepared for Christmas next year. They’ll make cookies in October and store them in the freezer; they’ll shop early; etc. Let’s face it, you probably won’t.

But I do have one suggestion for preparing for next Christmas now. Make handmade holiday tags and cards.

I love to put handmade “to and from” tags on the Christmas gifts that coordinate with the wrapping. It makes me happy and makes me feel like my gifts have a bit of a personal touch. As a thrifty recycling kind of girl, I also like that it lets me use scraps of paper.

So last January, after I hit the after-Christmas sales and purchased some new rolls of paper to keep for next year, I used the designs as inspiration to make some coordinating tags and I would suggest that you could do the very same thing during this time of year that tends to be a bit more homecentric as we hunker down to ride out the winter.

All it takes is some paper, some scissors, and a bit of creativity. Also, a few scrapbooking supplies such as punches and stamps are very helpful. I have included a few examples of my tags in the photographs accompanying this blog.

Your tags can be any shape or size. In fact, some of my favorites this year were a bit different than perhaps you might expect: tall and skinny or circular. You can even cut them into specific shapes such as stockings or ornaments. If you don’t have any templates, it is easy to cut out a shape from a magazine or print one from the computer. I often Google for a specific image, find a simple version with easy lines, then copy and paste it into a Word document, and size the box to my desired dimensions. I then print it off and use it as my template. It makes it even easier if you copy it first onto a piece of cardstock or cardboard and then cut it out to be your template for tracing multiple images out of various papers.

Handcutting images may sound tedious and time consuming, but I have found if I just keep a few traced images and a pair of scissors in my purse or briefcase, I can knock out a few during any down moment (like say waiting on a computer to boot up or waiting in line at a drive-thru).

Tags can be attached to gifts with a piece of rolled tape (my preference) or they can be punched with a hole punch and tied on with colorful ribbon or twine (for a country look). Tying on a tag is especially good for gift bags as you can tie the handles together for extra secrecy.

Tags can be as simple as a few strips of colorful paper or as elaborate as your imagination and supplies will allow. Getting creative with extras like buttons, jingle bells, or even feathers for angel wings can create unique touches. A very traditional approach to this craft is to cut up old Christmas cards and incorporate their beautiful images in your own designs.

The “To:” and “From:” can be stamped on with a rubber stamp (my usual preference) or printed on the computer. Of course you can always just write them on as well. If you choose the latter, you might practice some unique writing styles inspired by lettering you have seen elsewhere, like maybe a magazine, or even a font available in a computer program.

I also often incorporate sayings or Bible verses on my tags as an added touch. For instance, I usually put “And the stockings were hung...” on tags shaped like stockings. I once used “I’ll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams” on tags that incorporated maps of the local area. I printed my local area off of the computer, but you could also use old maps.

So when the weather gets cold and snowy and you wonder what you can do to pass the time, consider getting ready for Christmas and making a few handmade tags. You will have some fun as you pass the time and your gift recipients will undoubtedly appreciate the care you put into their packages. And I’ll bet next December when you go to wrap your gifts, you’ll love that you thought ahead.


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