MonthMay 2014

Thank You Card – Free Printable

I recently found my card stash a little low. So I dug around in my files to find some of the fun cards I’ve designed in the past. I thought I’d share a thank you card with you. Here is a free printable thank you card for you to use in two different color options, green and blue or black and pink. Use away!


Print on cardstock. Card folds to 5.5” x 4” and fits in an A2 or 5 1/ Baronial envelope.

Download the green and blue version. Download the black and pink version.

My designer takeaway: It’s always a good idea to have a stash of thank you cards on hand.

Creativity Time

These days, I feel very intrigued by ways to promote or enhance creativity, both for myself and for my little budding artist at home. I’ve found some really amazing ideas over the past several months. One of the overarching themes I keep seeing is “Do something different. Do something out of the norm. Break the rules.”

During a weekend getaway, my husband and I stumbled upon an author who has that all figured out. I’m sure this is old news to many, but if you need some guidance in this area, author Keri Smith has you covered.

For Mother’s Day, I received a copy of Keri Smith’s Wreck This Journal, and it has been such a blast! I’ve been doing the various tasks with my almost six-year-old son, and we can’t wait to do more. (Typically we have to take a break to let a page dry.) While I’m mostly letting him fill in the pages, I certainly am testing my creativity to come up with the “how” we should do a page.


For example, one page said to draw a continuous line while riding on something moving. I decided we should put my son in a stroller and drive him around the yard and dirt driveway. He decided to attempt an entire drawing while in motion that way.


Another page said to draw with dirt. We decided to use a squirt gun to make some mud to draw with.


I also really enjoyed the page that was to be covered with tape. We had some awesome Star Wars duct tape that was waiting to be used!


My designer takeaway: Consider getting one of Keri Smith’s books or apps and having some fun alone or with a buddy breaking out of the norm. Keep in mind that it’s about the experience more than the end result.

*I would note that I wouldn’t do the Wreck This Journal with a child too young to understand how books should be treated. Not only would it encourage destructive behavior, but it also would lose some of the enjoyment from breaking the rules.

Hosting a Retirement Party

As I said in a previous post, I recently hosted a party in celebration of my mother’s retirement. Here is a rundown on how we celebrated:

Retirement Party Invitation

Retirement Party Invitation

For the invitations, I wanted something bright and cheery. I went with what I would call a “trendy” design. It’s a one time event — so why not? I used the random polka-dots because it reminded me of confetti. My mother is well-known for always putting confetti in her cards. Once I started playing with the polka-dots in the background, I had lots of fun using that element in my decorations.

Matching the invitations, I made a few large signs saying “she is retired”. One of those went on the front door. I always like an entry sign to confirm I’m in the right place. Then I found some red and white as well as blue and white polka dot plates and napkins. I continued with the polka dots by making these wonderful dot garlands that I hung with streamers over the windows. I loved these! They were super easy to make with a large circle punch, some scrapbook paper in a variety of colors and a sewing machine. I punched a bunch of circles, arranged them in a random order, and then chain stitched them on my sewing machine. They were so cute. To accent those, I had some leftover circles that I scattered on the counter and table because we have to have confetti for my mother!

I reused one of my easy party food ideas: build your own nachos or taco salad. I always try to supply of lots of fun toppings, like meat and beans, two kinds of cheese, tomatoes, olives, lettuce, onions, salsa and sour cream. We also had a crockpot full of spicy tamales. Then I added a kid-friendly option, which was chicken strips. This time, the adults loved them too! We had a big tray of fresh veggies and one of fresh fruit. Beverages ranged from tea and lemonade to beer and wine. I made a happy little star cake with circle sprinkles, which I shared in a previous post with instructions for the paper flags. I also had a bowl of cream puffs, and we made a fruit salsa with cinnamon pita chips. I think all the guests walked away feeling full. Success!

The theme of this party ended up simply being polka dots/confetti circles, but here are a few other ideas we’ve done or seen for retirement parties:

-Oh the Places You’ll Go (for someone who loves to travel – Think maps, shoes/flip-flops, and quotes from the book.)

-Origami Cranes (for good luck – Hold a group folding session and make enough to string, put on sticks for centerpieces or line the tables.)

-Flowers (for the gardener – Buy a bouquet and get some mason jars. Put a single flower in each jar on the tables. Give the guest of honor packets of seeds.)

My designer takeway: At this party, I had a hearty amount and variety of food. I definitely noticed that a good supply of food helps make a party great.

Sending Well Wishes

I am a big fan of sending an actual piece of mail — card, letter, drawing, photo, whatever. (Big surprise from a print designer, huh!)

To me, it says, “I took the time to think about you, plan for this occasion and spent a little time to put this together for you.” I appreciate getting those things in return. As an adult, I’ve even started writing thank yous for the cards I get. As the older generations in my life pass away, I’ve noticed the birthday/holiday mail stack getting slimmer. I think I took their sweet messages for granted a little. So, now I’m adding a few new birthday wishes to my mailing list.

I seem to almost always be able to fill a card with my ramblings (about my kids, of course). But, I’ve watched my family struggle with what to say. To those people (and my stumped self), I’m making a list of message idea site:

All Kinds of Cards
Christmas Cards
Holiday Cards
Wedding Cards
Birthday Cards

My designer takeaway: It’s always worthwhile to spend the time to make someone feel thought/cared about.

A Love of Texture

I enjoy the subtle impact that textures make on a design. From a felt finished stock for an invitation to a printed visual texture, they add something special to a design.

I think this love stemmed from a happy accident in a design studio course in college. We were working on group projects that included packaging design. My group’s product was tattoo ink, and we brought in a printed draft of our ink packaging. The printer we used for our draft was running low on ink, and instead of printing a nice solid black background, it came out randomly striped. Our teacher loved the low ink accident, and then we had to try to recreate it. But, we all fell in love with it too. It added another layer of visual interest to the package design that wasn’t obvious or in your face.

I love using a great paper with a nice textured finish and perhaps even a color for invitations. It can set off a simple design and really elevate it to a more elegant, classy level. I know I’ve shown this invitation before, but the bold yellow, vellum-finished cover-weight stock really took what was a simple design concept and made it stand out. It’s not a paper choice you see everyday.

Another trick I love is to print a fake texture. When you can’t afford to use a fancy laid or linen finish paper, you can always scan it and print it in the background. While you don’t get the physical reaction to the texture, you still get the visual impact. Again, I’ve shown this invitation before, but here is an example where I scanned old book pages to get the visual texture of the paper. It’s not really something you notice on its own, but it certainly sets the stage for the concept that this invitation is a book. This is a great technique to make something look old or formal. I’ve scanned fabrics, textured papers, torn edges, natural objects and more. There are lots of possibilities!

Another idea for texture is a visual pattern. I love to do this for greeting cards I’m making. It can give you a background to make a focal point message pop.

My designer takeaway: Texture is a great subtle addition to create the true feeling you want for a piece. There are many ways to achieve this!

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