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December 01, 2008

What a card: Decorating with cards

Creative options to make greeting cards count

Christy Nich

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Stripped of its modern emphasis on overspending, overindulgence, and pressure to get it all done by December 25, Christmas is about bringing glad tidings of love and joy.

And as Santa’s attention is purported to reward a child’s level of “niceness” through the year, could the number of cards you receive be an adult’s indication of your own?

Receiving personalized cards makes us feel appreciated, remembered and important, so it’s appropriate to show off those gloriously decorated cardboard validations. People don’t send or receive as many cards as they did a generation ago, but that can actually be a good thing. It’s easier to make a tasteful display with smaller groups of cards, rather than the walls of string lines common in our suburban bungalows of the 1960s. 

First, take an inventory of the spaces you have to work with, the look or theme you’re shooting for and any unique architectural details that can be used in common areas.

Ceilings over a bay window, bulkheads, arches or transitional spaces all allow for vertical strips or creative horizontal “clothes lines” made of ribbon, garland, wire, or LED strands of lights. Use a hole punch in the corner of the card and thread a narrow ribbon or ornament hook through it, then attach it to your hanger. You have artistic licence to go as simple or as elaborate as fits your style, according to the ribbons you choose or extra ornamentation such as bells, silk flowers, or bows on the hangers. If you’re renting and have inherited ceiling hooks for hanging plants, you’ve already got a perfect place for a cascade of cards. 

Another simple plan for showing off a few cards is to drape a pretty ribbon from a row of vertical floating shelves or a bookcase and affix greeting cards with two-sided tape. The same approach could show off family photos year-round.

Christmas craft fairs can uncover materials to improvise with in your display. Small details such as tiny red, wooden clothes pins meant for a Danish advent calendar make excellent hangers and work well with a hand-made, country theme. Stationary shops are also a great place to find fancy paper clips or other supplies you can adapt. Meanwhile, bulletin or plain foam boards can be covered with festive fabric or wrapping paper and mounted on a wall or door. Two-sided tape also comes in handy on a tree-shaped board and is a quick and easy way to mount cards as soon as you receive them. Add decorations or florist’s moss in between to cover empty spots. 

For the less crafty, store-bought photo display racks can be adapted for smaller cards as well and often sprout up at craft and home accent stores around the holidays. Michaels Stores have a “Holiday Jewels Ornament Frame Tree” that stands about one metre. This round, brass spiral tree comes with small frames that you can use for pictures you get with your cards, but would also allow for cards to be hung. Reids on 17 Avenue S.W. sell two styles of wreaths for holding cards, one in pewter with a Santa theme and the other, ivy in black metal, while Pier 1 has a tree-shaped metal photo rack that also makes a fashionable spot to house a few greeting cards. 

Banisters and Venetian blinds have always been a favourite showcase for larger cards, and if you have a brick fireplace, you can curl the cards between the rows of mortar. 

For flat surfaces, consider putting a few cards in a pretty bowl, basket or vase amidst tinsel, pine cones and branches, or ornaments. The fake candle room deodorizers work well here, or just a a pretty, unlit candle or figurine. And truly ambitious card carriers may opt to give last year’s haul a second chance by making a bowl to display them out of cards. (To learn how, see sidebar.)

Sometimes the best ideas come from the past. Bought about 40 years ago, likely from a craft fair, family members of this writer’s bring out a 3-D evergreen cardholder with slots to hold a splay of cards on all four sides each Christmas. Replicating the displayer is easy if you have a good sharp Exacto knife. (For how-to instructions, see sidebar).

When you catch sight of your card display, you’ll be reminded of the warmth extended to you and yours this holiday season. 

That’s really what it’s all about.


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