The month of December (wedding month, holiday month, trying-not-going-to-bury-myself-in-debt month) is looming heavily, but the planner in me has been anticipating a wild ride and decided to tackle a bunch of holiday-related projects over the last few weeks in honest anticipation. So ambitious over here, so very ambitious.
Holiday gift tags were on my list of things to do this year – whether or not I could have gone out and bought tags or just written TO: DAD, FROM: EMILY in thick Sharpie directly on the package to save myself time and money is basically a point that I’m not willing to argue at this time – making my own holiday tags for the first year ever was a fun and relaxing experiment, with each tag costing me less than one penny, that’s right, el cheap-a-roo.
When it comes right down to it, you can make some pretty sweet holiday tags out of just paper, and paper is downright inexpensive (if not for free, depending on where you work and how sneaky you are on your lunch break). My thought this year was to use 100# cardstock leftover from our wedding save the dates/invites because despite honest estimating efforts, Pete and I still only ended up using about 60 of our 200 sheets of paper; there’s still a lot to use for future cards/invites/projects. Like, really a lot.
This card stock itself has a kraft papery-like finish and a weight that I knew would be sturdy as a gift hang tag, its only downfall being that it’s a bit too heavy to run through our home printer. When you consider that the paper fell under a different budget, and I used a font that Pete already owned, and only had rely on 40-cent printing fee at good ol’ FedEx Office (10-cents per black and white sheet), it was a pretty inexpensive project overall.
Pete’s a designer (a life-detail that I’m ever-appreciative of since he thoughtfully planned all of our wedding announcements and currently works to customize merrypad 2.0). Another perk of that is that he has some great tools on his disposal that I don’t, so I borrowed his InDesign one evening to create my tag template. Something as basic as a gift tag could be designed in anything from Word to Paint to Gimp or Powerpoint, depending on what you have and how you know how to work it (work it, girl), but Pete has access to some awesome font typefaces, which meant that I wouldn’t need to search around the internets for one that I liked. The winner was Road Movie, a typeface that is a bit rough around the edges, almost like it is hand-detailed.
The finished tag size was determine to be 2.25″ x 4.5″, a proportion that would allow me to fit 12 tags on each sheet of our 8.5″x14″ paper.
Regardless of how you’re tackling your DIY layout, if have access to a printer, it’ll probably be worth your while to check out the printed scale of your tags as you work on the design; I found that my first few efforts looked way wrong (the layout was too big, the fonts were too big or too small, or it was just spaced weirdly) and it took extra trials to get the proportions right. You can tell how the size and alignment shifted over several tag iterations in this next photo, the final design I believe is represented as the very top layer in the lower right.
Just like with the production of our save the dates and shower invites, I found it easy to bring a PDF on a flash drive to FedEx’s higher capacity laserjet printer. For just 10-cents per page for this black and white print job, I was left with four perfectly crisp printouts, with no ink streaking or smudging like what I often experience when trying to use too heavy of paper on our home printer.
The PDF I printed from was set up to be 12-up, which left me with 48 gift tags that I was able to trim down to size right on-site with FedEx’s cutter and guides.
Using the grid, this process was quick and easy.
The fact is, they look pretty good plain, but I wanted to explore using watercolors on top of the paper, because I had a cool set of Loew-Cornell metallics had been calling out to me. Months and months and months ago, I thought metallic watercolors would be great as a holiday accent, and my opinions haven’t changed. A touch of sheen, a bright pop of color, it couldn’t go wrong.
The only wrong thing that could happen is that I don’t know how to watercolor well. It started out a little rough. What are these, you ask? Did a 3-year old make those? Watercoloring pros are amazing.
With a little more trial and error, I started to get a better feel for how much paint and water to be dipping into, I began to just let the watercolors run rapid on my project and do their own thaaaang.. These are some of my favorites.
I didn’t tap into the whole rainbow, and decidedly kept my palette to metallic marcasite, gold, and copper.
Copper was my least favorite of the three, a little more rusty than I was going for, but I really loved how the gold and black worked against the kraft paper, doing their own thing for the most part but occasionally merging in a gold-gray phenomenal way.
The metallic effect, very cool. I can’t wait to try these paints on some real watercoloring paper.
Perfect and ready for the holiday season! They’re long enough to be taped down to peek out from beneath an elaborate bow, or hole punched and strung on a natural sisal rope ribbon.
What’ve you been prepping for your gifts this year?