Earlier this year, I was shopping for a birthday card for my little sister and was a bit disheartened by the sentimentality in the paper creations available. While we love and adore each other, we are not “best friends to the end” and I shouldn’t be pointing out that she is a year old — since I am the older sibling. find the cookie cutter sentimentality of the cards a bit stressful — outlining how my interactions with my younger sis should be — “closer now than when we shared a closet.”
I left the store without a card but a resolve to invest in my relationships with a year-long experiment and a dash of creativity. In short, I vowed to stay away from the card aisle for 12-months. From thank you cards to celebrating new babies to offers congrats on making the volleyball team, I was going to make each and every card.
According to author Sandra Maqsumer in her book “Living Artfully: Create the Life You Imagine,” art is every “possible medium of human expression.” She says creativity and art is in what you say and how you say it. It is how we express ourselves and feelings while connecting with those around us. She encourages everyone to celebrate the people in their lives through objects and moments one creates.
My decision to create a card or homemade display of affection for everyone in my life for a year was a way of tapping into my creative side — but also of connecting with my loved ones. While some may excel at baking cakes or crafting a cross-stitch design, my creative talents reside in graphics and collages.
Some of my cards are based upon inspiration I find on the Internet, such as a Father’s Day card that resembled a flannel long-sleeved shirt, which my father-in-law wears everyday. Others have been based upon special interests of the recipient — such as an owl hoping the birthday girl’s special day was a “hoot and a half.”
When we moved, I “recycled” the boxes by turning them into “We’ve Moved!” announcements by writing our new addresses on bits of cardboard and mailing them to friends and family.
What I have learned is that organization is key. I use a Google Calendar with everyone’s birthday added to a calendar. I also set up email reminders for two weeks out, which gives me enough time to create and mail the homemade creation.
For things that don’t need a whole lot of customization, such as thank you cards, I have a few pre-made creations. This takes the pressure of needing to create one on demand when a neighbor watches our cat for the weekend or a friend gives us homemade banana bread.
While it has only been a few months, I feel that this is probably something I could commit to as a long-term project. It’s a nice, thoughtful thing I can do for someone else while funneling creative energy. In addition, I have found that I start planning card designs or researching ideas long before the reminder appears in my inbox. That means I am excited about the upcoming creation process.
How can you insert a bit of creativity into your world while making a connection with a loved one?