Making Gift Card Wrappers

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This article is written by Katja Blum 

It took me a while to like gift cards. In my family, gift cards, certificates and all kinds of “pick your own” gift promises were seen as an afterthought, proof that the giver didn’t remember until the last minute or put much thought into your gift. I don’t think that’s true. In my mind, a gift cards says “I think you deserve a treat, please pick exactly what would make you smile right now”. Whereas very sensible and frugal people might use a check or cash to do sensible and frugal things, a gift card is fun. It doesn’t look like “real” money, and it’s perfectly okay to spend it on something entirely frivolous.

Hurray for gift cards – but let’s be honest: Sometimes we do buy them at the last moment. So here are a few ideas for some mixed media flavored presentation ideas for holiday gift cards.

General tip: You shouldn’t glue, staple or otherwise directly attach a gift card to anything, because you might damage the strip on the back. Many cards come with a small envelope anyway.

If you have a day

If you still have a day, anything is possible! How about making a collage or mixed media painting and using the envelope as part of the background? Just affix it to whatever paper or canvas you are using and paint, stencil and decorate right over it. Just make sure you have the flap facing out, so the card can be inserted and removed without ripping the envelope off the painting. And don’t glue the flap shut with gel medium. Or make your own simple card pocket by gluing a piece of paper, card or fabric to the piece on three sides, leaving the top open. While painting, you can slip a piece of freezer paper into the pocket to avoid pasting it shut.

If you have a few hours

I like felt ornaments. They are easy to make – and felt can be decorated with anything. The coffee shop card I’m giving this Christmas is going in a little mug ornament, which I plan to slip on the recipient’s tree, so she can find it later.

Gift Card Wrappers

  1. Cut out the mug shape and oval “coffee”. Use the shape as a template to cut out the mug again, but without the top. This will be the pocket for the gift card. You can do this with any shape. If you want to make a snowman, for instance, just cut out the bottom snow balls. Or you could cut out your ornament and put a rectangular pocket on the back – but I like the card peeking out in the front.
  2. If your ornament is a bit on the big or your felt is on the thin side, you can make it less floppy by gluing a piece of cardstock to the base ornament.
  3. Sew the coffee to the bigger mug shape, also attaching a ribbon loop for hanging, and decorate the front pocket – beads, embroidery, paint, glitter glue … The back of the pocket won’t be visible later, so it doesn’t have to be super neat.
  4. Sew the front pocket to the mug base. If, like me, you are not very good at sewing, thin thread in a similar color and a regular sewing needle works best, as your stitches will not be very visible.
  5. Place the card in the pocket. Give away.

If you have an hour or less

The second item on my art to-do list for 2015 is “Learn origami”. I’m fascinated by the possibilities, especially in combination with fabric. If you are really pressed for time, a simple origami envelope can be folded in minutes. Almost any kind of rectangular paper works for the envelope here – and you can, of course, decorate it as much as time allows. Using a piece of fabric gives an unexpected twist – lightweight to medium fabrics work best, my favorite is quilting cotton.

The fabric needs to be stiffened to hold the creases better. You can spray it with a thin coat of varnish or laundry starch. The one thing I always have in the house is white glue, so I dunked the fabric rectangle in a solution of two parts water and one part white glue. Smooth the fabric out on a sheet of freezer paper or plastic. It will peel off when dry. The fabric is going to be stiff, but can still be decorated with needle and thread, if desired.

I used paper to demonstrate the folding steps – a rectangle of about 8″ x 11.5″ makes an envelope big enough for most cards.

Gift Card Wrappers

Folding instructions:

  1. Fold the paper in half, make a sharp crease and unfold.
  2. Fold the top right and bottom left corners down to the center crease.
  3. Fold the top left and bottom right sides inward so that they meet the vertical triangle edges.
  4. Turn the paper 90° and fold the right side down to meet the bottom edge. Tuck the edge into the flap at the bottom.
  5. Fold the left side to the top edge and tuck it into the flap as well.

Slide the gift card into the slit in the center. The envelope has two layers of folds. Slip the card into the bottom layer, because the short sides are open in the layer above.

Gift Card Wrappers

Enjoy giving a gift card to someone special this holiday season!

(Oh, and just in case this article is giving my family some festive ideas – remember the mantra, guys: books, crafts, coffee!)

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Katja Blum is a writer and translator from Tulsa, OK. As an artist, she started with yarn, fabric and papier mache (rarely together), branching out into collage and other paper arts about ten years ago. Her latest obsession is making soft stuffies and art dolls – to the delight of her toddler. She also likes to find creative solutions for ugly or broken things around the house – to the delight of her husband.

You can see more of her work with fiber, paper and words at www.thewaywardsheep.com

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