DIY Gouache Holiday Cards

Tomorrow we're heading up to Carmel with Odo to meet Chris's dad for Thanksgiving, but before we go, I have a quick post about a little holiday DIY project we finished today...

For some reason, Chris and I decided to get into the Christmas card game this year.  I guess now that we're married I feel like we should do all those grown-up things, plus it seemed like the perfect chance for another DIY Christmas project, one of my favorite things at this time of year!

Here's what I came up with!  We're looking forward to sending out these cards to our friends and family soon, and I may even list them on Etsy if we have extra.  I know lots of people go with more personalized photo cards these days, but I'm a fan of the classic holiday card, and we'll probably print a wedding photo to include anyway.

I started by using my new gouache paints to make the illustration, which is on the left in this photo.  At first I was planning to just play with some pretty script, but then the idea came to me to paint one of my little cacti and adorn it with Christmas lights.  I like how it's topical to our new location in Southern California, plus there's actually a similar cactus on our street that is wrapped in red lights (weirdly creepy, I have to say, but I think mine is the cheerful version of that).  When I went to figure out the text, I decided that I liked a simpler all caps font, and even though I didn't get it all perfect in one go I was able to replace the "O" I didn't like in Photoshop with an extra one I painted on the side, once I scanned the images into the computer.  I scanned at 400 dpi, so I had some extra wiggle room with size, and then I messed around with the arrangement of the cactus and the words until I came up with a nice simple design I liked, and then I was ready to print!

We were going to print the design on the same watercolor paper we used for our wedding invitations, but then we remembered that we had this awesome set of blank cards and envelopes by Crane & Co. lying around that would be perfect.

Once I had the design figured out in Photoshop, we simply printed it onto the blank cards with our inkjet printer.  Easy peasy.

The simple white matching envelopes are a nice touch.

At the last minute I remembered to add a note on the back with our "brand."  We're planning to open an "alivingspace art" shop on Etsy, and I figured these cards would better fit into that category.  I rather like how professional the little note makes my cards look.

The cards have the same great watercolor-y look as the original painting.  I love how easy and successful this little foray into card-making turned out to be!

What do think of our holiday cards?  Do you send out Christmas cards?  When did you start?  Have you ever made your own?  How did you do it?

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!


  1. Love how you are embracing your new location and the native plants. Really shows your sense of place. Of course they are also well designed and pretty. Thanks for the process.

  2. these cards are just wonderful! I love the cacti twist on the classic pine tree!


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