A Handy Greeting Card Guide

May 18th, 2009 by Solange

If you have been inspired by our articles and would like to start making you own greeting cards, you will soon find that you are joining an increasingly popular hobby.

Creating your own cards makes financial sense, the up-front investment is minimal. Your cards will be even more special to their recipients because they are not mass-produced  and this way you will be able to express your sentiment in a personal manner.

People will comment on your cards and it will encourage you to make more or to send your personalized greetings using free e-cards.

Although there are hundreds of card-making techniques, none is better than the other. Some are more appropriate when it comes to special occasions, for example we looked at quilling (filigree) and parchment (lace effect) which produce delicate timeless beauty, perfect for Weddings but will not be out of place for a Thank You cards either.

All you need are ideas and basic essentials.

There is no ideas factory, you’ll have to create you own! Get yourself a box and start collecting: cards you like, little items which crop up in the most unexpected of places. The other day, on my way back home, my eye got caught by a sweet pink object on the pavement, it was the tiniest garland of flowers probably from a child hair-pin, it made a fabulous embellishment. Then you need to record what you like, your ideas: keep a scrap book fill it colors, torn out samples from magazines and of course a record of your own cards.

Basic essentials:
You don’t need a lot of expensive tools. To start, arm yourself with this handy guide and you’ll be busy creating great cards in no time:

Card and paper: stock up on plain cards to begin with, treat yourself to a few different textured and decorative papers to really brighten your designs. Save wrapping paper, old cards etc…
I find envelops to be the most expensive buys, so I am always on the look-out for bargains.

Scalpel and scissors:
Use a scalpel for detailed cutting. Buy two pairs of scissors a small pair and a large pair and keep them exclusively for your card-making.

Paper trimmer also called paper guillotine: it cuts card and paper to the size you want, you might prefer a self-healing cutting mat and a metal ruler.

Glue and sticky tapes are essential but start with one and you will soon build up your collection. Same goes for embellishments, there is a huge variety of charms, beads, paper effects, buttons letters, peel-off and much more. A whole wide world to explore so get started straight away.

How to: Parchment Craft Cards

April 25th, 2009 by Solange

With spring come weddings and this year, I am going to…..no, I am not going to get married, I am going to try a new craft for my greeting cards. The other day, I saw this ever so romantic looking card, it looked like paper-lace on translucent embossed paper. When I enquired to how this ever so lovely effect has been achieved, I was told that it was “parchment craft”.

With a bit of research I found that traditionally parchment craft designs were all white on translucent paper and mostly used for religious celebrations such as communions. Nowadays, white monochrome has been joined by multicolored parchment papers, inks have followed suit, and parchment craft is use for all occasions.

Despite the fact that parchment craft has been used for centuries to enhance greeting card designs it remain a “niche” craft as it was re-introduced in Europe only recently.
Historians trace this ancient craft to the Catholic communities in Europe during the 14th century. For centuries to follow, South American people were introduced to this craft by missionaries. In the 19th century, the French, eternal romantic, used the technique to embosse cherubs and garlands of flowers for their “billets doux”.

Then, it disappeared from Europe without ever reaching the US, what follows is a fascinating modern success story:
In 1986, a Columbian woman, Martha Ospina, introduced it back to Holland.  Since then, she has written a number of books on the subject and open her company the Pergamano craft which sells materials, trainings etc…. Pergamano is compound word: Pergamum and Mano. Pergamano became so popular that people refer to parchment craft as Pergamano craft.
By the way, Pergamum is the name of a Turkish town where parchment  was  developed. Today Pergamano craft has spread throughout the 5 continents.

Materials:
• Patience, this is a real game of precision and patience but the outcome is just gorgeous.
• Parchment paper which is a very strong paper
• Base mat
• Embossing tool
• Pricking tool
• Mapping tool
• Scissors or craft knife
• Design
• Ink
• Card with aperture

Method:
1. Tracing and embossing are the basic techniques.
2. Choose your design and place parchment paper over it, secure with tape
3. Using the mapping pen and white ink, trace around the design onto the parchment
4. When dry turn over, lay on base mate and with the embossing tool rub over the design,
5. Turn over again, this time with the needle tool prick holes in the part of the design that look like small dots.
6. Trim the parchment design and tape behind the aperture.

The result is a beautiful, intricate pattern.

Going Green With Ecards Part 2

April 15th, 2009 by Solange

Earth day is almost upon us this April and it is my job to convince you to start using ecards and making your own eco friendly papercards. Before I get to that, I hope you all have celebrated Easter Sunday and have filed your taxes. Tax season can be stressful - almost like cramming for a college final. So for the rest of this month, I suggest we all just enjoy the more precious and simple things in life.

One simple thing you can do is send e-cards: they are fast and convenient. No need to go traipsing the shops looking for the right card with the perfect message. From the comfort of your home, you choose via an on-line catalogue. It is simply amazing how one simple ecard can rebuild lost friendships, rekindle shared memories and simply just make someone happy & smile.

Ecards are very versatile since it can be personalized with sound, animation, a message, photo or a video. You specify the recipient’s e-mail and with a few clicks your greetings are send and received. This process allows to send cards in bulk. The e-card concept is seemingly superior to the traditional paper card, but there is something about being able to hold, touch and frame a physical paper card that adds to the etiquette and security over ecards. If it is widely acceptable to send holiday e-greetings to people you know are often on line, it is common sense not to send your best wishes to a person you know to be technophobic. Really no point to do so, a message not open is a good as a message not received.

That brings me to the security aspect, “is it safe?”, there is malice out there and you can’t be blamed for being careful, so make sure that when cards are send the recipient will recognize where it comes from. Moreover some people are mostly on line at work and companies take a dim view at their employees using the computer for their own needs. 

There is no denying that the environmental nature of e-cards is an argument which can’t be beaten by the traditional paper card, however there are situations when sending an e-card, would be a real faux-pas: condolences are not really best acknowledge electronically.

Reliability and cost are 2 other aspects worth considering. Each Christmas, I send cards to all my colleagues and work-partners, sadly that year, I left it far too late, even in a country where the mail is reliable, sometimes too late is, well…. too late. I was extremely glad to find a catalogue which I liked then. The other thing I realised was that the impact on my purse, so much so that a few people who had been omitted in the previous year had the surprise to hear from me, which had an expected consequence: I got to meet up with these friends again.

So for Earth day this month, I really hope you consider trying out ecards. You will be surprised at how simple yet effective it is. If you are still not convinced, stay tuned for my next posts where I share tips and tricks to create your own earth friendly cards!

Going Green With ECards

April 1st, 2009 by Solange

The US market is the largest for greeting cards: there were about 9 billion greeting card units sold in 2007. The amazing phenomenon is that despite the rise of the electronic greeting cards the traditional card market is still going strong. So how green is the greeting card market?

The answer is not very; first there is the sheer bulk of the industry, by 2009 worldwide sales of Christmas/New Year Cards are projected to exceed 7.68 billion units. Then if  you look carefully many of the large companies are not yet using 100% recycled paper for their product. Last but not least there is the environmental impact of the transport, some companies are now thinking to relocate their production line to Europe or the US from China under the consumer’s pressure of the and the raising price of production. Moverover a card is not just a card it is also the package, cellophane is definitely not green at all. Research is being done by smaller companies which will use packages made from soya.

Because the environment counts and without going over board there are a few things we can do, to be greener when using the snail post:

Step 1: Before buying choose recycle and tree-free greeting card; but be aware, the labelling can be confusing. “Recycled” may  mean that a mix of trees and recycled paper has been used. The minimum you want is “recycled paper” that ensure that cards are made from waste which otherwise would have ended up in the landfill these cards  will still have a small percentage of paper rolls.
A better choice is to pick cards that are tree- free, they are made from mix of seed species that will grow in all regions of the US when planted. When a business pays that level of attention to the paper it will also have looked into the ink using vegetable-based ink.

Step 2 : make sure that we re-use our greeting cards, after a big holiday or a big family celebration, I take time to separate my cards into 2 categories. The first will go direct to the recycling bin, the second I will reuse by cutting and pasting the whole card of part of them so that old becomes new.

However the greenest way to send your sentiment is definitely e cards.

ECard Message Help – Rhyme Tips

March 22nd, 2009 by Solange

I once went to an 80th birthday party, the 80th Birthday card message was a poem, written by an “old friend” of the celebrated new octogenarian. It rhymed with 20 and add that very personal touch, it was witty and funny.

You can add your own poem to your e-card, but where do you start? It all seems very easy when you see cards in the shop, and think “I can do that” but a very different ball game when contemplating the blank space where you words should be.

It sounds obvious but think of the person you are sending the card to. Then quickly make a mental review of what define your relationship with the recipient of your chosen words.
• What does this person means to you?
• What does he or she does/did for you?
• Why are you sending this card?

You will also need to think of a short list of words that define the person. Scribble all this down, now you are ready, you can start.

For example : you would like creating an ode for your best friend’s birthday card whom you have known for a long time; shared a lot of the good times and bad times with, he/she has always been there for you. The One you  have shared secrets with, if fact he/she is a bit like your confessor. This person is dependable  and very …nice which by the way that rhymes with… advice.
So what about :
 To my best friend,
“my one confessor
I trust your advice
I thank you for
being reliable and nice”

Of course it may not be as good as Emily Dickson or Shakespeare’s but it is yours and it rhymes and it comes from the heart so that what counts, really it does. Think about all the cards you have received, and the presents, these that first spring to mind are these that had a special touch, which were hand made or put together with you in mind. In lots of ways when you send a card you aim at achieving the same effect.

My dad was really touched with my “Number one Dad” poem last year,  The greeting card was printed and it hangs on his wall, though I suspect my mum has put it there!

And don’t forget with Mother’s & Father’s Days coming up soon, you could send a card to your friends who had their first baby to wish them love and luck in the future.

Easter Greeting Cards

March 12th, 2009 by Solange

Bright sunny yellows, fresh greens, sweet Camaeiu of blues, milky cream background,  Easter greeting cards colors celebrate the joys of spring and revival.

 

Easter postcards were first sent to friends and relatives at the end of the 19th century. Back then, most of the pictures represented decorated eggs. Poor Easter bunnies, symbol new life which can be traced to the 16th century had almost disappeared from the pictures. The pairing of the 2 : Bunny & egg was a marketing ploy hatch in the 1900′s to boost sales.

 

I don’t remember ever receiving many Easter cards, they are certainly on the declin which make vintage cards rather collectable as they are not easy to come across. The most impressive Easter cards were stamped in silver and gold.

 

Nowadays When sending a Easter card you can choose a religious theme and/ or incorporate the history of Easter:

  • The most sacred festival in the Christian calendar, Easter commemorates the Resurrection of Christ.
  • In pagan times a festival was held in honour of Eostre, goddess of dawn, hence its name Easter.
  • Easter is a moveable feast which takes place on the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the 21st of March.
  • Passover, the historic Exodus of Jewish people was for a while celebrated during the same period,  as  it was during Passover that Jesus was crucified.

 

If you decide on a more modern and secular twist, you could rely on new symbols such as basket full of goodies and chocolate, cards with lively flowers such as the white lily symbol of purity.

 

The white Bermuda lily is the accepted symbol for Easter and is the most popular flower for Easter decorations today.

 

There is a large choice of e-cards for Easter, free e-cards are easy to send. Religious or  secular, it is about time we bring the tradition back to its former glory don’t you think? So make a list of people to send your “Best Easter Wishes” to on:

 

2009 April 12

2010 April 4

2011 April 24

 

Say It With Ecards – Part 2

March 6th, 2009 by Solange

Say it with cards- part 2-

 

If our cards sending habits have been modified  by the advances of the internet, the messages and the occasions have evolved too, they have moved on with the times.

 

Major holidays and traditional messages:

As might be expected Christmas remains the most popular car-sending holiday in the Anglo-Saxon world; though it is New year’s greetings which figure at the top of the list in the rest of Europe. Sales of  Valentine’s Day cards take proud second place  and account for 25% of seasonal card sales. Most people send a least 2 Birthay cards a year.

 

“Everyday non-occasion cards”

But our habits are changing, in the past 5 years we have seen appearing a new genre of cards:

“the everyday non-occasion cards” which are proving to fill up a need as they are fast becoming very popular.

But what on earth is a “non-occasion card”? Cards such as friendship, encouragement, thinking of you  which answer the need of a caring generation,  people who wish to reach-out to their friends and family. Individuals who want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. People whose priorities are centred around others and not so much focused on work or on obligations.

 

Holidays we celebrate with a greeting card

New year’s

Valentine’s Day

Easter

Passover

Mother’s Day

Father’s Day

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Hallowen

Thanksgiving

Hanukkah

Christmas

 

But that is without taking into account the fact that we have a lot to celebrate and that we love celebrating…….about anything and almost everything.

 

Announcement cards and their replies

Among this array of cards there is another category: announcement cards and their replies. We love to send our best wishes to acknowledge a happy event, such as a new home, a new job and among these special events, one of the most special of them a card for a new Baby:

Say It With Ecards – Part 1

February 27th, 2009 by Solange

In the US more than 7 billions greeting cards are bought each year. In the UK, we spend over £1bn per year on cards, sending an average of 55 cards each.  We would be forgiven for thinking that the industry has reached its peak but no, the sector is expanding. Moreover the greeting cards industry is morphing beyond recognition.

 

The last “revolution” was in the early 80′s when a Chicago-based greeting card company (RPG: Recycled Paper Greeting) transformed the sector. How did they do it?

They used a novel material for their card: recycled paper and they accredited their artists on the back of the cards. It was an immediate success, many companies followed suit and it sent the industry flying “rocket high”.

 

But that was the 80′s and, given that the industry is composed of very creative people across the board, it was not going to stop there. In fact the industry embraced the digital revolution with all its might, stepping happily in the 21st century. Behind us are the days when an e-cards was frowned upon. E-cards have now found their individual use and a new etiquette is in place.

 

So what is new?

In the past few years Photo Greeting cards have increased in popularity. On one hand, you can buy card-frames in which you slide your own photo, the same process exist digitally. On the other hand, there is a new process which is “changing the face of cards”. 

Let me explain : at Christmas, I received  for the first time, a new generation of card.   A photo of an artwork (which was itself a painting from a photograph)  printed at very high resolution directly onto the face of the card. Stunning results, imagine you own personal photographic message as if it was a top of the range card.

 

Also new and very popular are  the Musical Greeting Cards. I am a great fan. I love to receive them, I love to send them, I think they are great fun. As often the simplest ideas are the best: you open your card and there it throws at you a few  happy notes. With e-cards, of course, you can personalize your choice of music, even better!.

 

So there we are : new ways of celebrating, acknowledging but what are our messages? To know the answer, read my next post where I will be exploring  the content of the greeting cards.

Kwikecards – Your Resource for Quick Cards

February 20th, 2009 by Solange

There are so many occasions to send cards and so little time. www.kwikecards.com offers you greeting cards which cover every single occasion on your calendar. It is fast and reliable. The choice is large and the customisation unique to you:

One simple customization to your e-cards can make all the difference. When choosing a greeting card to send to someone think about adding the following:

 

  • Music: “when thinking about the person, are you reminded of a song? If so you should add it with the card”.
  • Is the recipient fond of a color? Do you want to enhance your card: then “add a colored border to enhance the card”.
  • ”Try to write a message or choose a poem to include with your card”. Messages are the most important part of the card, few well chosen words will make all the difference
  • Photo cards are all the rage, “make somebody’s day by adding a photo to your card”.

 

If you choose to send a paper card instead and do not have much time here are 10 crafty-fast ideas.

 

  1. Shape it up: Cut out a paper-shape that you know the recipient will like and decorate it, for example: a hand-bag, flip-flops, a car, an elephant
  2. Use stick-on lettering for your message; you can get packs of ready messages in all sorts of colors, so your message will read clearly.
  3. Use photos: favourite memories involving your friend, type a jolly message underneath, use humour for personal memories, after all you want to bring a smile on your friend’s face.
  4. Use cut out of famous people that have similarities with your friend.
  5. Cut out astrological signs and use them as embellishments
  6. Find an origami pattern and practise it a few time before using it as a card, you could hide your message in the folds
  7. Use sweet-heart candies to tell somebody you love them, find the most appropriate ones and glue them on a card.
  8.  Don’t forget haberdashery and sewing shops: buttons, ribbons, embroidery such as flowers are really cheap to buy. Layer them on card and paper.
  9. Add stitching to your card: use a ruler and pencil to space the points evenly
  10. cut out an hole in a blank card and attach a charm or a small piece of jewellery.

 

Share your comments and ideas with other readers using the comments box.

Invitation cards

February 1st, 2009 by Solange

Today is Super Bowl 43! And most likely, you have sent or have received an invitation to a Super Bowl event. Whether it is to an informal event such as a Super Bowl party or a formal event such as a wedding or bridal shower; invitations and invitation cards are an etiquette minefield. Common questions are should they be sent and replied to by e-mail or not, how to formulate the message, who should I invite, etc… Let’s try to clarify with a few important invitation card tips and tricks.

 

 

It is perfectly acceptable to use email for a invitation (or an reply) to a wedding shower, but I am afraid that it is a big no no when it comes to the wedding invitation self or the acceptance, it  has to be paper. Invitations to anniversary celebrations can be sent in a number of ways. As a general rule, if it is to be a important celebration, invitations should be sent at least 6 weeks in advance. This timeframe also depends on the size and magnitude of the event as well as the timing.  If the party is during a holiday period such as in the Christmas Holidays, you will be well advised to send a “save the date” notelet in advance of the invitation, you can do so up to a year ahead. For an informal event such as a Super Bowl party, it is perfectly acceptable to send them through emails just a few weeks before the event. 

 

Invitations are also the place to clarify the type of celebration, and what your guest are expected to do, bring, wear, etc…But there are ways of doing so, not conforming to the etiquette is a faux-pas, and you don’t want that!

 

Children and “troublesome partners”: you can’t really say “No children please” or invite only one person in a couple; it is commonly understood that only the person(s) named are invited, if you have doubts you might want to speak direct with the people invited to let them know that no children will not be present or an “ex” will be.

 

Formal diners and restaurant meals: if a party is in the evening and the celebration is important, it is understood to be “Black tie”. “Black tie” does not appear in the wording of the invitation but again if you have concerned, use it as a foot-note.

 

If the celebration takes place in a restaurant and the invitees are supposed to pay for their meal, the wording should reflect that : “to share in a lunch” for example, joining the menu with the prices will reinforce the message.

 

For an informal occasion at home such as a house warming party where you will want people to pitch in, simply make it clear on the invitation as to what they could bring. It also gives you the opportunity to co-ordinate. I once went to a 40th birthday party where the invitees were kindly asked to bring local cheeses, it was a fantastic hit, of course a little more difficult to achieve if all live in the same district.

 

Phrasing for formal invitation is always in the 3rd person, no abbreviations everything is spelled out e.g.: “junior” not “jr” nor “j.” since all initials are banned.

 

Responding is important even if you are not going but that can be done via e-reply.

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