Back To Basics: Simple All-Occasion Cards To Make

back-to-basicsI hope you have made your first bread and scoped out where you are going to build your first raised garden bed!

Today we are talking crafts for Back to Basics Week. But not the kind of craft that makes you feel like all thumbs. No, we’re talking about making cards which easily falls into our “simple, frugal, and fun” criteria.

homemade cards

When it comes to crafts, there are some that are done just for enjoyment like decorative items, and then there are those that provide something we want or need and can’t afford to have done for us. Some of these like sewing, design and painting take some education and skill.

Not so with cards (of course they can, they just don’t have to). With some basic inexpensive tools and materials, anyone can make cards for birthdays, graduations, weddings and thank-yous. We all need a supply of these cards and at $1 to $5 (yes, if you can believe it!) each, making them yourself can amount to a significant savings over the course of a year.

With the explosion of papercrafting and scrapbooking over the last fifteen years, I’m sure there are many of you who make beautiful and elaborate cards. They are truly works of art and are fun to receive as such. However, not all cards need to be works of art- they simply need to get the job done of letting someone know how important they are to you.

For those times (and for people like me who make cards mainly for the savings), here are some easy card ideas to get you started as well as basic materials you will need to get you started. All fall within our criteria of simple, frugal, and fun (really!)…and I might add for this activity- quick. You won’t believe how quick, actually.

Supplies needed to make cards (most of the items can be found at craft stores, but some of the birthday stickers and rub-ons were purchased at the dollar store, of all places):
  • Adhesives. You can buy fancy tape runners, but I mainly use regular 3/$1 glue sticks for cards. 
  • Decorations like quotes, vellum, and stickers
  • Stamps
  • Paper
  • Photos – use color copies to attach to card fronts
  • Calligraphy pen or specialty pen
  • Cards and envelopes. Yes, you can make your own, but that wouldn’t fall into our “simple” goal- that’s complicated (well, the envelopes, anyway). So take your 40% off coupon to a JoAnn’s or Michaels craft store and buy a pack of 25 white or ecru cards and envelopes for $3.29. At about .13 for each card and envelope, we’re talking about saving big bucks, folks. On cards. Who knew?

One of the things I made an investment in years ago were basic rubber stamps: Happy Birthday, Thank you, and Congratulations. These pretty much cover all occasions. They are only a few dollars each (remember sales and coupons!), and pay for themselves in no time.

If I need a card in a hurry, I will just take one of these stamps, stamp it on one of the cards, write my sentiment (heartfelt and meaningful, of course) and call it good. This works in more cases than you’d think and is something everyone can do, taking only a minute to accomplish.

If I want to make it a little more special I simply find two pieces of decorative scrap paper that look good together and cut the first one to fit just inside the top of the card. A paper cutter like this one makes it super easy, but scissors work, too.

Glue paper #1 to the card front.

Cut paper #2 to fit inside paper #1, leaving enough border to show the design. Stamp (or use stickers, etc.) a design on paper #2 and glue it to paper #1.

Ta-da! Fancy-shmancy and it only took about two minutes more. Where else can you get such a return on your time investment?

When I find a look I like and have more of the paper, I will make up some more at the same time because I have all the tools out.

Gotta make good use of our time.

Stickers can be as simple as stamps, too. To me, they just seem like they’d fit in better for a child, so here’s an example of a child’s card using just a card and two types of stickers.

Yeah, I know. Mad card-making skills here.

My sister takes amazing photos and uses them for cards all the time. They are special for grandparents, too- a thank you and a gift in one. It’s always fun to get a card with a surprise photo on it – it’s an immediate memory to laugh and talk about.

My other sister has photocopied her children’s artwork and glued them onto cards for thank yous and even given them tied with a ribbon as note cards. I love these.

Some pretty awesome family, huh?

For this photo card, I wanted to frame the photo in color paper and then attach it to the card front. So I cut the photo about 3/4″ smaller (all around) than the card front and then glue the photo onto the uncut colored paper, aligning it with a corner and leaving a small border. Then cut the remaining two corners to match the other two corners.

Using this method gives a better chance to get the edges even. Sadly, I remember when I learned this technique…some years after I had started scrapbooking and making cards.

Glue the the mounted photo onto the front of the card. You can leave it blank and write your own words, or…

You can use the stamp inside.

Choices, choices.

How much more simple and fun can we get?

Wait, don’t answer that.


This is linked to:
Make it Yours Day @ My Backyard Eden
Show and Tell Wednesday @ Blue Cricket Design


  1. says

    Oh, this looks like fun. I have quite a few scrapbooking supplies that would be great for this!!! I’ve been following the Back to Basics post..I just haven’t posted any comments yet :(…I’m loving this series…for real!!!..and I do love quick and easy!!!

    Hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  2. says

    This is an excellent idea. I have a hard time finding cards that I like, but I have all kinds of pretty leftover gift wrap papper that is sitting in a box that I could maybe use in card making, now that I know how to do it! Thank you for the post.

  3. Olga says

    Wonderful post! Cards are so expensive, so I usually buy mine from dollar stores (2 for $1). But making cards yourself is even a better idea. I will keep an eye on rubber stamps and other supplies, so I can buy them inexpensive for future card making.

  4. JenniferB says

    I love making cards and so do my friends so we do a card swap. Similar to a Holiday cookie swap- each participant makes a dozen cards of the same theme/design. Then we get together and exchange cards so each person ends up with 12 different cards. Sometimes we suggest a theme such as “New Baby” or Christmas- we even did a Halloween themed exchange. Lots of fun and you get some really unique cards!

  5. says

    Heather- I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series.

    Olga- I think you will find you come to enjoy it as well. 😉

    JenniferB- Excellent idea- I love it! Now I have to find enough people who make cards to do this with…

  6. says

    I’m a font addict so I rationalize it by making up my own sayings for the inside, trying out some cute fonts, choosing one and printing it out,then cutting it to fit inside. Much nicer than my in-a-hurry printing!

  7. Nancy says

    I love it!! Not only does this allow you to save some $$$ but it also allows you to use your creativity! It’s a double-whammy……..a crafting fix and a personal (frugal)addition to any special occasion and/or gift! 😀

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