I apologize in advance that I don't have pictures for all steps; I was making this as a surprise for my husband for Christmas, so it was complicated trying to get things done only when he wasn't home--and cleaning up quickly to leave no trace! Adding in taking pictures would have been nearly impossible! Perhaps after Christmas I can update with more pictures (maybe even in time for Valentine's Day).
- Deck of regular playing cards (preferably with Jokers included)
- 2 Book Rings (mine are 1" but it's a tight fit)
- Hole punch (adjustable 3-hole is good, but single works fine, too)
- Pen or Marker OR Computer & Printer (with template if desired)
- 54 Labels, Business Cards, or Paper cut to fit
If not using self-adhesive labels, you will also need the following:
- Mod Podge, Glue, or other appropriate adhesive
- paint brush or sponge (for applying adhesive)
- waxed paper
- heavy books or boards (to keep cards pressed flat while drying)
- a flat surface where cards can be pressed and dry for an hour or so without being disturbed
Step 1: The List and Labels
Write (or type) out a list of 52 things you love about the recipient. Include a variety of compliments, from physical appearance ("Your gorgeous blue eyes"), to their talents and skills ("How creative you are. You always come up with the best ideas"), personality traits ("Your generous heart"), how they express love to you ("The way you comfort me when I'm upset"), and the things they do ("That you text me every day") and how they do them ("How patiently you put up with my family when they're annoying"). Be specific, and even use examples where you can ("Your gentleness with me. Like when you brush my hair"). These are your "reasons." You may number them if you prefer. As you can see in the pictures, I didn't number mine; I just crossed them off my printed list as I used them so that I could reorder the cards later if I wanted to.
Now copy each "reason" onto the labels, business cards, or paper, either by using a computer and printer, or writing them out by hand with a pen or marker. I printed mine onto the Avery 28371 business cards and trimmed the short sides just a bit, but paper cut to fit would also work. You can also add decorative touches if you like. Keep in mind the size of the cards you have may limit how much text will fit; you will need to leave some room to punch the holes, as well.
Step 2: Gluey, Gluey
Now you will stick the "reasons" to the playing cards.
If you are using self-adhesive labels, this part is relatively easy, and once you have them on all of the cards, you can skip to the next step.
You can choose to stick them to the "faces" (over the numbers and suits), or to the "backs" (over the same design that's on every card). You may want to flip the last card over so that your back cover design matches your front cover and looks more like a "book," but it's not absolutely necessary. I chose to stick my "reasons" to the backs of my playing cards because I found the number/suit sides to be more interesting and fun, and the "back" design on my particular set of cards was somewhat ugly. I would not recommend a combination of faces and backs showing; I think it looks better with some consistency. But, hey, if you like the chaotic look, go for it.
Normally, there would be 52 cards (one for each "reason"), and 2 Jokers (one for a front cover and one for a back cover). However, I found that I had unwittingly purchased "used casino playing cards" that did not contain any Jokers, so there were only 52 cards total. That's not enough for separate front and back cards unless I cut out two of the "reasons" and made it "50 things I love about you." I didn't want to do that, so I chose instead to stick a "reason" on one side, and the front/back cover on the other side of two of the cards, so that the first "reason" was on the inside front cover (shown in the first picture), and the last "reason" on the inside of the back cover.
If you are using business cards or paper (whether pre-printed or not), you will have to use Mod Podge or glue, or some other appropriate adhesive to stick the "reasons" to the cards (note to self et al: hot glue is NOT a good idea for this project, unless you just want burned fingers and frustration. And if so, there are better ways to go about it... like roasting marshmallows. Yum.). You also might want to test that the adhesive doesn't soak through and cause your ink to run or smear.
Because Mod Podge makes the paper business cards want to curl and pull away from the cards (and I suspect the same will happen with glue and/or paper), I did small "batches" of 3 or 4 cards at a time, coating the back of the "reason" and sticking that to the playing card. Then I set them "reason" side DOWN on a piece of waxed paper on my dining room table, leaving just enough space between so that the cards wouldn't touch or overlap each other. Then I covered them with another piece of waxed paper and set books on top to keep them flat. (I found that laying them "reason" side up under the books meant that when a book got bumped, I ended up with the occasional skewed "reason" and had to do some trimming.) Then I left them to dry for about an hour.
Step 3: Two Rings to Bind Them All...
I took my 3-hole punch and adjusted two of the punches together to fit a playing card (see first picture). Punch two holes on the left on the "reasons" side of each card, except the cover cards--the holes should be to the left of the front cover (even if you have a "reason" on the inside front cover), and to the right on the back cover (see second picture). I punched holes in two of the cards at a time to make it faster, but three was too thick for my hole punch. YMMV. Be careful to line the holes up the same way on all cards so that the rings will fit properly and the "pages" will turn smoothly, especially if you are using a single-hole punch.
After punching all the holes, open the book rings, put the cards (in the order you've chosen) on the book rings, and close them back up. If you have small rings like mine, you may have to do half the deck on one side, and half on the other so that you can close the rings up properly. If you don't have book rings, you can string ribbon through the holes and tie it, but don't tighten it too much; leave it loose enough around the "spine" so that you can still turn the pages. Be sure the cards are all facing the right direction in relation to each other. Also make sure none of the pages stick together.
Give the lovely, finished product to your lucky recipient!
Step 4: Bonus Level! Continuing the Love...
I had more than 52 things on my list that I love about my husband (I know, I have a really great guy... and yes, I'm bragging on him now. Feel free to be jealous.). So I printed out several extra "reasons" on some extra business cards. I didn't bother to trim these, since they won't be glued to playing cards. Instead, I plan to leave one every so often where my husband can find it--like little surprise love notes! Maybe one in his coat pocket a few days after Christmas, in his wallet a few days after that, on the car dashboard a week or so later...
Have fun with it!