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More Ideas for Making Your Own Cards 
Have you ever received a greeting card that someone made especially for you? It might not have been really fancy, maybe the saying didn't rhyme too well, and it might have been printed a little off-center, but you appreciated it nonetheless because someone made it especially for you.

You can make your own greeting cards using either your own greeting card software (such as PrintShop) or a free online card-making software (there are numerous sites that allow you to make free cards by subscribing to their site). You can also make your own unique cards by using a few features of your computer's word processing program (more about this later) or the old tried-and-true kind of handmade cards using construction paper, pictures cut out of magazines, or your own photos pasted to the paper.

You don't have to be a poet and you don't have to be a talented visual artist. All you have to do is know the person for whom you are making the card--and have a reason for making the card (even if it is just to say "Hi! I'm thinking about you today...").

How to Start Making Your Card

If you are using a card-maker program that you have installed on your computer, or you are using a card-making program that you subscribe to, then you simply start at the beginning, following the instructions of that program.

You can either start with a picture (some type of graphic) that you are going to put on the front of the card, or start with a pre-made card that already has pictures and a verse. Don't be afraid to think outside the box! A very serious picture on the front can be turned into something humorous on the inside...and vice versa.

Think about the person who will get the card. Is there a picture that you can put on the front, or is there a card with a picture that is already available, that reminds you of that person? Maybe you see a picture that reminds you of something that you did together.

For birthdays, you simply can't go wrong by choosing a card that has a birthday cake, birthday candle, or balloons on the front! That can be a birthday card for any age, for any type of saying (really funny, friendly, or loving).

For seasonal cards, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, all you need is a scene that ties into the holiday: you can choose scenes of the outdoors in the Fall or Winter or maybe just a turkey or a snowflake on the front. If you are from a warmer climate, then think about using a pumpkin or a Santa Claus hat (something that doesn't necessarily mean "cold weather").

Specific holidays or days of celebration, such as Mother's Day, can really use any picture or image that you like. It doesn't have to be anything that is truly themed to the celebration--if the picture means something special to the person who will get the card, then any type of picture will do! For example, my mother makes quilts and sews outfits for stuffed dolls and Teddy Bears for charity. I can use any type of sewing-themed picture for any card that I want to send to her--for any occasion.

For cards for somber occasions, such as a serious illness or a death, think of something "peaceful" like clouds, or scenes of flowers in a field. You can just include a very personal thought on the inside--it doesn't have to rhyme, just speak from your heart.

The idea here is that the outside of the card should be something that will mean something--either for the person who will receive the card, or something that means something for the occasion.

Writing the Inside of the Card

The hardest part for most people is trying to think of something "catchy" or meaningful to say. Because we have come to expect cards to have a rhyming verse, most people think they have to write a poem. Well, that's just not true. All you need to do is to say what you feel, say whatever it is that you would like to tell the person who will get the card. And if you are making the card for a child, then really, all you have to do is to make sure that you've got the child's name in the saying!

Birthdays can be easy! You can write the simplest little rhyme (nothing beats the "Roses are red" pattern), or none at all--just write a happy saying on the inside.

You can be clever! For my brother's 50th birthday, I made a card that had one birthday candle on the front. On the inside I wrote:

"Don't you wish you only had to blow out one candle...instead of 50???"

For a child, be sure to include his or her name! Nothing excites a child more than seeing his/her name in print! Don't worry about whether it rhymes, just include the name in the saying. If you are giving the child a gift, try to find a picture that matches your gift, and then match your saying in the card:

"Here's a brand new fire truck for you, Jacob! Love, Grandma"

Somber occasions can seem like the very hardest of all, and yet they can be the simplest because you can just write something that speaks from your heart:

"Melanie, I am so sorry about the loss of your mother. She always made me feel like I was her daughter, too."

The real key to "writing" the inside of a greeting card is to write something that comes from you, and is written especially for the person who is going to get the card. You don't have to be a poet, and you don't have to "have a way with words"--you just have to say what you think, and what you feel.

If you can match the saying to the picture, or somehow incorporate the picture with your saying, then that's great! Otherwise, simply speak from your heart, or say something that you would say to that person if you were talking to him or her.

Printing the Card

There are basically two types of cards: quarter-fold and double-fold.

Quarter-fold cards are printed on only one side of the paper, that is, you print the entire card, all at one time. After the card is printed, you fold the card in half, and then you fold it in half again, so that it is one-fourth the size of the piece of paper. Get an illustrated tutorial about making quarter-fold cards, and get the link to a free printable that you can download, print and fold to make an envelope for quarter-fold cards at: Quarter-Fold Cards: What They Are and How to Fold Them.

Double-fold cards are printed on both sides: you print the "outside" of the card and then you have to put the piece of paper back into your printer in order to print the "inside" of the card. This can be a little tricky because you must figure out how to put the paper back into the printer so that the inside prints correctly.

Many card-making programs offer "paper orienting" tips and guidelines for you to use. Often, though, you simply have to experiment by printing the outside and then putting the paper back in and printing the inside. If it isn't right, you just try again until you figure out how to put the paper back in the computer (that is, do you put it in printed side down, printed side up, etc.).

SUGGESTION: If you need to experiment with printing a double-fold card, then I suggest that you set your printer to print in black-and-white only, and on the lowest quality setting possible. This will save your color ink. Once you know how to print the card so that the outside and inside are oriented correctly, then re-set your printer settings for color and for either "normal" print quality (or whatever enhanced print quality you prefer).

Card Stock

You can print cards on plain, white printer paper--or any lightly colored paper. You can purchase "card stock" (which is a heavier paper). Card stock is fairly inexpensive, but it usually comes in reams (packages) of 250 or 500 sheets, and then you have to purchase envelopes separately. You can also purchase card stock that comes "pre-scored" for easy folding, in packages that usually contain matching envelopes. These packages will come in either quarter-fold or double-fold. Stores like Wal-Mart and Target sell packages of cards and envelopes, as well as office supply stores (that usually have a larger selection of types of card stock paper such as glossy, matte, or textured finishes).

If you are going to print your own Christmas cards, or invitations to a party, and you are going to print more than 10-15 cards, then you may want to consider the type of picture you put on the front. Color ink cartridges are very costly for home printers, and printing a card, even at "normal" print quality really uses a lot of color. A simple card, with a simple picture is desirable if you are printing quite a few cards. If you need to print more than 25 cards, then you may want to think about printing one card, at the highest print quality setting, and taking it somewhere to have it color-copied and make as many as you will need (and always print one or two extras!).

Be Creative with Labels!

You can make delightful cards by creating self-stick labels for both the outside and the inside of the card. Printing the labels can be much easier than trying to figure out how to insert what part of the card on which side of the paper. Simple print the labels, fold the paper, and peel and stick the labels in place. Making labels using your computer's word processing program is easier than you think, and you can even insert photos or clipart into the label template. For more about making cards by using labels, go to Making Cards Without Card-Making Software.

It is fun to make and send personalized cards! You don't have to be a poet or an artist and you don't have to know a lot about computers in order to make cards that will be very special to the people who get them!

Jan K., The Proofer is a freelance copyeditor and proofreader. Visit Jan's Portal ( for more information about Jan's free crafts, recipes, tutorials, other resource sites, and free content articles, as well as Jan's freelance proofreading business services. Be sure to visit Mom's Break ( for free printable crafts and projects. © Copyright 2005 to present. All rights reserved.

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