ValentinesDo you resent paying £2.75 for a piece of shiny, red card that doesn’t even have an apostrophe in “Valentine’s”?  Depending on how many lovers you have, this saccharine festival of singleton-shaming can get pricey. But hoorah! Charlotte’s here to show the skint among you how to make a nice card for pennies; and to offer all you romantics a little it’s-the-thought-that-counts inspiration.

In card shops (alright Tesco’s) I’m drawn to the tactile, minimalist cards that look sort of artisan – a bit homemade. But, what with the endless barrage of birthdays and new babies, not to mention Valentine’s Day and Mothers’ Day coming up, I can easily spend £10 or £12 on just a handful of cards.

So here’s how to save yourself some money. Stock up on a few basic supplies that will last you all year and make sure you don’t throw away pretty scraps of wrapping paper and you can make a card for about 15p. Of course it’s easy to spend loads more than that if you get carried away in a craft shop. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

This won’t save you time – there’s always a place for buying cards – but if you didn’t plan ahead and you’re rushing for the post, it might work out quicker than going out specially just to buy one card.

But of course the real point of making cards isn’t about time or money – it’s about doing something fun and creative. If you enjoy crafty projects then these little cards are cheap and quick – both to make and clear up afterwards. You really can do them in about twenty minutes. Or if you want to make a job lot and stockpile them then you’ll work even faster.

I’m going to show you how to make a Valentine’s Day card because I’m often unimpressed by what I find in the shops. And I don’t really want someone else to write messages to my lover on my behalf… But this is a simple idea that’s easily adapted to any kind of card.

Here’s what you need:

  • a printer
  • A4 paper
  • a blank card and envelope – worth buying in bulk: try these or these
  • scissors
  • a pencil
  • glue

If you want to include lettering in your design, you’ll also need either a die cutting machine (mine’s a Sizzix Big Shot) and a set of alphabet dies  or some lettering stickers like these or these – way cheaper in the short term.

Here’s how you do it.

1) Think of what you want to say to your beloved. This is how you make things personal. I went for the lyrics to the song we had our first dance to on our wedding night (Into my Arms by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. You can’t dance to it. We looked ridiculous.) But you could go for a poem, a little message – like in my 5th birthday card – or just a string of adjectives (see my Mothers’ Day card). The good thing about this is that it works no matter where you and your lover fall on the soppy-versus-cynical spectrum. You can throw insults if you like. Or go for a private joke. If you’re really struggling, why not just repeat your lover’s name again and again like you’re worried you might forget it?

2) Open a Microsoft Word document and type out or paste in your text. Choose a font you like and play around as much as you like with mixing up the sizing and colours. (I wouldn’t go much above 12 points because you need a small pattern on the page.) Once you’re happy with it, you can fill in the whole page with copy and paste. (You might have to do a bit of drag and drop faffing if your text doesn’t look random enough.) When you’re ready, print it.

3) Then cut out whatever shape you want from your printed sheet and stick it onto your blank card. I was in a rush. I had a deadline for another job. So I went for a heart. (You can have that idea for free.) I didn’t even print out a template; I just folded a scrap of paper in half to make it symmetrical and drew one freehand. I did print a template for the number 5 on the birthday card though. (For my template I just typed a ‘5’ into a Word doc – mine was 500 points; Iowan Old Style Black; in bold. And I changed the colour to the lightest grey so I wouldn’t waste ink.)

That’s it really. For my Mothers’ Day card I just ripped a square of purple wrapping paper and stuck it onto my blank card because I wanted a darker background for my butterflies. And for that one I used a punch to cut out the butterflies – but with a slightly simpler design (just missing out the antennae) you could print a template and cut the butterflies out with scissors.

There you go. Happy card-making; happy Valentine’s Day; and, if you do have a go at making any of these, please send us your pictures of what you made!

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