By Rachel Paxton
Do you hate throwing your Christmas cards away every year as much as I do? This year I decided to try to come up with some way to preserve our Christmas cards, as well as find a way to organize all the Christmas letters I've been faithfully filing away for the past six years. I decided to make an album for our Christmas letters using decoupage to decorate the covers with this year's Christmas cards.
I love decoupage. It's so easy to do and so versatile. It's really hard to get it wrong. I started by finding something to paste the Christmas cards on. I had some dark red card stock (next to the paper at the office supply store) that seemed heavy enough to withstand all the gluing. Next I cut our Christmas cards into all different shapes and sizes. I cut out little characters, scenes, holiday greetings, and even signatures of loved ones who had sent the cards. I next arranged the cutouts, overlapping one another, on the card stock, and started applying them one by one with the decoupage finish.
There are several kinds of decoupage finish available. You can find a variety at your local craft store. I have two different kinds: Plaid Royal Coat Antique Decoupage Finish, and Mod Podge Gloss-Lustre. The first one gives an antique-like appearance. The paste yellows when it dries, making your collage look aged. The more you apply, the yellower it gets. The Mod Podge dries clear. I used the antique finish and was quite happy with the result. You use the finish to actually glue the individual pieces on with a paintbrush, and then when you're finished (adding scraps here and there to fill in the blank spots), you brush a coat over the entire page. After it dries for about 10 minutes, you can apply another coat. I found that adding several coats made the pages sturdier–more like a album cover, like I wanted. I had just enough Christmas card cutouts to cover two pages, one for the front cover, and one for the back cover.
After the pages were dry, I used a three-hole punch to punch holes in the covers. I decided I would use wide fabric holiday ribbon to tie the covers together. That way every year I could untie the bows and add new letters to my album. I used 2 1/2 -inch-wide wire satin ribbon (dark red). I liked the wire ribbon. It was easier to adjust the bows and looked really nice. It was also leftover from my holiday gift making this year, so I didn't have to buy any extra.
When the covers were ready, I arranged our Christmas letters from oldest to most recent, and punched holes in all of them. I then placed them between the covers and inserted the ribbon through the holes and tied big red bows to hold them together. I chose not to string ribbon through all three holes–just the top and the bottom.
I was really happy with how my keepsake Christmas album turned out. It was easy, took only about two hours to make, and I didn't have to buy anything extra to make it. After you buy the decoupage finish (about $5 a bottle), the uses for it are almost limitless. You can apply it to almost any surface, giving you the opportunity to create timeless keepsakes in a variety of ways.
Originally published at Suite 101.
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