Thursday, December 5, 2013

To And From

I am not much of a shopper, but I love buying Christmas gifts. I adore the process of searching out the perfect gift and wrapping it up in festive papers and ribbons, but I must say that my favorite part of the package may be the name tag.

Those two simple headings - To: and From: - form a link between another's name and mine. There we are, together on the gift tag as we are in this crazy world, two souls who have come together and now mean something to each other. 

I love the symbolism behind gift tags, and to be honest, I feel a need to make them beautiful.

Over the years, in my mad rush to get my gifts under the tree or out in the post, I have occasionally resorted to some ugly, improvised name tags. Hastily trimmed bits of printer paper with mostly-dried-out red and green markers. Post-It notes and ball point pens. Heck, there were a few dark days when I grabbed a Sharpie and scrawled my loved ones' names across the gift wrap in bold black ink.

But not anymore. I've perfected a simple but sweet strategy for making one-of-a-kind name tags and during the past few days, I've been busting out a fresh crop for this year's gifts.

^ Thin cardboard rectangles + leftover bits of holiday papers + glue sticks = the basic tag.

I tear the papers into strips and layer them onto the cards, covering front and back. Then I tuck these puppies under a stack of heavy books and leave them to dry for the night.

Later, I dig them back out, trim up the edges, and punch a hole in one end. That takes care of the basic mechanics.

The last step is easiest and most fun. I drag out my collection of Christmas stickers, sequins, glitter and glam, and collage one side of the tag with a layer of colorful detail.

^ The other side of the tag is reserved for our names - the special To: and From: connection. Sometimes I write with gold pens on bits of black paper, or colorful markers on a field of white, and then glue the scrap of paper to the decorated name tag. For this batch, I added some store-bought labels because who wouldn't love a name tag with an Eskimo girl wearing snow shoes?!?

While my style clearly favors bright colors and bold, child-like designs, this process can be used with more refined products to result in a very different effect. Imagine gold foil papers, a delicate winter floral, or black and white graphics. Instead of cutesy Santa stickers, visualize tiny mirrors, gilded berries or a little sprig of evergreen. The possibilities are pretty much endless.

So on those days when the mad rush of Christmas is getting you down, and your to-do list for the month is feeling like a materialistic death march toward debt and overspending, take my advice. Bust out a few scraps of paper, decorate them to your heart's content, and then fill in those To: and From: blanks. 

Two names. You and your loved one, linked in love. That, my friends, is what Christmas is all about. 

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Read more about my getting-ready-for-Christmas adventures:

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