Handmade birthday cards are the perfect addition to any gift or to stand alone as a thoughtful gesture and celebrate. The lost art of pens and paper is not dead in the world of paper crafts. Where most things in life are technology driven, a handmade card will put your personal touch into tangible form and brighten anyone’s day. Handmade DIY birthday cards are easier than you think, especially if you start with a card making kit. Glittered, colored, painted, stained, or left au naturel, however you design your DIY birthday cards, the result will be awesome.
The beauty of a card making kit is that a designer has put their creative juices to work and crafted the individual pieces but let’s you decide on the final outcome. If you start with a blank slate, it can be hard deciding what direction to go. Not to mention if you want to use unique materials or cutting techniques other than scissors or craft knives. You can also hone your design down to the actual types of materials you want to use, such as eco-friendly or sustainable and renewable resources.
We take pride in our Happy Birthday / Let’s Celebrate Card Making Kits as they are crafted from Made in the USA 100% recycled card stock and cherry hardwood (USA grown) veneer. Using recycled materials in our products as well as for shipping is very important to us. Wood choices are also essential to help keep our forests healthy for generations to come. The veneer chosen is also backed with a water based paper product. That means any simple craft glue will work and no harsh or oil based adhesives are needed.
5 Design Techniques
Every time I sit down for greeting card projects, regardless of the occasion, I always come back to five decorating choices. I can never pick just one so I use them all and end up with lots of different choices to send to each person I am thinking of. Since so much thought and care went into choosing the materials for our card making kits, my decorating goal is to never cover up all the natural elements in the materials themselves. There’s lots of beauty in the natural style they hold so I try to preserve as much as I can.
The end decorating result is a combo of birthday wishes splashed with color pops from paint pens, brush tip markers, wood stain, or a little sparkle of glitter. But that’s only four design techniques, and I said there were five. There’s always someone on my birthday list that I leave the cards completely natural, only adding a sealer to the cherry wood veneer to help it last a long time. When you use beautiful materials in your craft projects, you don’t always need to think of wild, bedazzled results as the materials shine on their own just as nature made them.
Before starting any craft project, I first like to gather all my materials. This not only makes things go faster as I won’t be wandering around the studio looking for each item throughout the project, but it also let’s me know up front if I’m missing anything. My five design techniques don’t require a lot of supplies. For handmade cards, my motto is simple is beautiful on the card design, followed by a heartfelt message of how I feel. I’m a person that writes my feelings better than saying them, so DIY birthday cards are the perfect way for me to express how I feel to each person I care about.
In general, you really don’t need many supplies to make amazing handmade cards. That is especially true if you start with a card making kit. For the five design techniques we chose for our happy birthday card ideas, this is our full list of supplies we use in the studio.
- Happy Birthday / Let’s Celebrate Card Making Kit
- Scotch® Spray Adhesive
- Elmer’s Glue Stick
- Sharpie® Brush Tip markers
- Extra Fine Glitter
- Sharpie® Oil Based Paint Pens
- Sharpie® Water Based Paint Pen – White
- Wood stain
- Old rag (for wood stain)
- Gorilla Glue with Brush Applicator
- Spray Clear Coat or Mod Podge (if needed)
- Old newspapers or used paper (to craft on)
Unpack Your Card Making Kit
To kick things off, unpack your Happy Birthday / Let’s Celebrate Card Making Kit and separate out all the pieces. Each kit contains four cards, two Happy Birthday and two Let’s Celebrate. This kit isn’t only good to say Happy Birthday but works for any occasion that deserves a little celebration. The DIY birthday cards kit comes with both light sandstone and brown bag card stock colors. You get to choose if you mix the light and dark top vs. bottom pieces together or choose to keep the layers the same color. All combos are awesome so it’s really up to you. As for the cherry wood embellishments, you get four of them, two of each phrase. To finish the kit off, there’s four unfolded card stock envelopes of which you choose which color you want. A little glue and folding, and you’ll have handmade paper envelopes to accompany your birthday greetings.
We might focus here on the handmade cards, but the envelopes are important too. They are the first thing everyone sees. Learn more on how you can make your own Handmade Paper Envelopes In 3 Simple Steps. The saying that you only make a first impression once counts even in the handmade card realm. Make sure your specially made DIY birthday card really stands out in that mailbox filled with a sea of junk mail and bills.
Let’s Go Au Naturel
Cherry wood veneer is a beautiful and unexpected material to find in greeting cards. With being real wood, the natural grain and color of the wood may be just what you want in your DIY birthday cards. An easy, fast decorating technique is to just clear coat the cherry wood veneer cutout. This will preserve the full beauty of the wood itself. The only choice is what sheen do you want. Matte? Satin? High Gloss? I like to add a little sheen so the cherry wood veneer cutout pops a little from the card stock. Options for products is also pretty wide open and you probably have something at home you can use. Mod Podge works and comes in all sheens. You can also give a quick spray of clear coat from lots of companies like Krylon, Miniwax, Zinsser, or Rust-oleum.
Markers Make Magic
Something as simple as Sharpie® Brush Tip markers adds the perfect amount of color to either the veneer wood cutouts or even the card stock itself. Never any overlap lines and smooth coverage, this is the fastest decorating option. I recommend two coats of color, to really deepen the color and make sure you didn’t miss anything. And since it’s a marker, there is no dry time to wait for. It’s pretty much dry as soon as you color it on. If you do decide to color the card stock, try applying a little tape and create color blocks instead of a solid palette. The real fun is experimenting and finding what you like best.
Oil Paint Pens Add Shine
Oil Based Paint Pens are an easy way to not only add color, but also shine. The water based pens will result in a matte finish while the oil based will have a noticeable sheen. In order to get a smooth, consistent color on the wood veneer cutouts, I like to first coat the wood with a similar color of a brush tip marker. It acts like a primer as you now have a base to start from that’s closer to your paint choice. After a quick coat from the marker, apply the oil paint pen, using strokes in the same direction as the wood grain. This will result in a more flawless finish. I like two coats of the oil pens… BUT with these being oil based, you need to ensure the first coat is fully dry before you apply the second. Otherwise, you’ll create stripes and drag marks through your finished color.
A Little Glitter Does It
Sometimes you just need a little sparkle and glitter is a great way to get it. To reduce the amount of glitter needed, just like above for the oil paint pens, I always start with a coat of brush marker that closely resembles my glitter color. That way when I sprinkle on the glitter, if I don’t have 100% coverage, it doesn’t matter because the base color is close enough that you won’t notice. Plus, even with the thickest glitter coat, it still falls or rubs off so that color underneath is important for the long haul. To adhere the glitter, either a light spray glue layer or even a dabbing layer of Elmer’s Glue Stick will do the trick. You don’t need a lot of glue to get glitter to adhere. Immediately after applying the glue, sprinkle a thin later of glitter and then shake off any excess.
What if you want a glitter color that is really light, like white or clear or even silver? The trick for these glitter colors is to base coat the cherry wood veneer with a Sharpie® Water Based Paint Pen in white. I choose the water based paint pen instead of the oil variety here because of dry time and coverage. The water based paint pens dry faster and seem to coat more evenly, in my experience. So since I can tend to be an impatient crafter, I want a fast dry time and full coverage on a single coat so my go-to will always be the water based option.
Let The Stain Show The Grain
Since the veneer cutouts are real wood, using stain is one of my favorite ways to infuse color while preserving everything the cherry wood has to offer. Any stain in any color is a great choice. I have over 25 different stain colors in my studio so there’s always the perfect one ready for use. Follow the instructions on whatever stain you choose for dry time and re-coating. Apply the stain until you get the desired color. If your stain choice is NOT also a sealer, you can choose to seal the wood to either add sheen or to further preserve it. Odds are your card won’t get thrown away so it may be around for awhile, and you won’t want your color fading.
It’s amazing how something as simple as a handmade card written from the heart can be the greatest gift. Gifts are always a bonus but not always needed or make sense for every occasion. But there isn’t really any occasion that’s not worthy of a quality card, thoughtfully made and written by you. Sharing your personal time to make someone a craft, especially DIY birthday cards, will be remembered long after most presents have been forgotten.
Dip your finger into the world of card making kits and start Wowing! everyone you know with your handcrafted, heartfelt words. We have lots more to say about handmade cards in our guide Card Making Kits Deliver A Heartfelt Message. Happy card making to you!