Friday, December 16, 2016

Mass Producing Christmas Cards

Today I am back with the next installment of my Christmas card series, Mass Producing Christmas Cards. Sorry for the delay, but I had a good reason. We closed on our house today! Yipee! We will not actually be moving in until January because we have to do some work on it first, but it is all ours now! Hubby and I are super excited!!!

But back to Christmas cards...

I don't know about you, but I make a TON of Christmas cards each year (like almost 300). A little less than 200 typically go to a charity and then the rest get sent out to friends and family. With all of those cards to make, I just do not have the time to make each and every one of those cards unique. To make the process a bit more simple for myself and a bit more practical to fit into my time constraints, I usually assembly line as much of the process as I am able to. While I try not to make more than 5 or 6 of the cards identical, there are certain things that can be done up front and all at once. Below are some of my tips and tricks to making large batches of cards as quickly (and painlessly) as possible! (Warning - this post is a bit text heavy, but I wanted to share my process as completely as possible so it would be easy to repeat!)

Tips and Tricks

1. The first thing I do when I sit down and have all of my supplies stacked beside me is to score and cut down my card bases. I usually score half of my 8 1/2 x 11 inch card stock down the middle with the paper laid vertically on my paper trimmer at 4 1/4 inches and then flip the cardstock so that it is laying horizontally and cut it down the middle at 5 1/2 inches. the other half of the cardstock I score at 5 1/2 inches with the paper laying horizontally and cut at 4 1/4 inches with the cardstock laying vertically on the paper trimmer. I usually do these 50 sheets at a time, which make 100 card bases, so that when you go to sit down and make cards you can just grab a pre-cut and folded card base to decorate. I would do them all at once, but I simply don't have the space on my desk. After I get through the first batch of card bases, I repeat the process all over again.  

2. After I am done cutting down the card bases, I go through my Christmas themed paper and pick out those I want to use for card backgrounds and trim them using a paper trimmer (at 4 1/4 x 5 1/2 for A2 sized cards) or, using a border die, cut them down using my Cuttlebug. When I use dies, I use the largest die that will fit onto the front of an A2 sized card. I cut down the same number of card backgrounds as card bases so that I can whip the cards together by batches without having to stop and find more papers to cut down. You can always trim down additional paper for the individual elements as you go, but you know that you are going to need at least as many pieces of patterned paper for card backgrounds as you have card bases. 

3. Don't just pull paper from your Christmas paper stash for your cards, look through your existing paper stash (6x6 and 12x12 papers) to see what you can use. You'll be amazed at how much paper you have that will work for your Christmas cards.

4a. Go back through your Christmas paper and pull out all of the papers that have cut apart elements - anything with Christmas sentiments or images that you can cut down to be the focal point of a card. Cut down each of these elements so that when you start making your cards, you have a nice supply of already completed elements that you simply need to attach to your card fronts with adhesive.

4b. Go through any Christmas-related embellishment packs to see if there are any that would make a good focal image or sentiment on a Christmas card.

5a. Get out all of your Christmas stamps and inks (I usually stick to black and brown nicks to make this step a bit faster than bouncing back and forth between a bunch of different ink colors) and stamp all of your Christmas images and sentiments out at one time. This way you have a bunch of images that you can color while doing something like watching tv.

5b. Color your images in all in one step (not necessarily one time, but before moving on to fussy cutting/die cutting out your images and/or sentiments and putting your cards together).

5c. Fussy cut/die cut all of your images and/or sentiments down in one step. This way you do not have to keep pulling out your paper trimmer and/or die cutting machine and dies over and over again while you are trying to make your cards. 

6. Give yourself a stack of die cut panels, whether circles, rectangles, ovals, or other shapes, to add interest to your cards. By cutting a bunch at once, you have a nice variety to choose from without having to stop in the middle of making a card and go through all of your paper pads to find a specific piece of paper that you then have to put through your die cut machine before getting back to your card.

7. After each step is complete, I typically take all of the pre-cut or pre-made elements and put them each into plastic baggies - I usually use the quart sized ones and put all of the card bases in one or two baggies, all of the bases in another baggies, etc. This keeps all of the elements separated and safely stored away when I am not crafting and makes all of the elements easy to find and go through when I am ready to sit down and work on the cards.

8. It's time to put your cards together! With all of the hard work already complete, you should be able to make your cards in record time!

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