One day I was looking for a way to use up holiday greeting cards and I must not have had any tape. This prevented me from making interlocking loops and I had to think of something else. I came up with this idea, which I love because since the garland is not taped together it is easy to adjust it to whatever length you need.
So now I have a couple of things that I do each year with the holiday cards I receive. One is throw them into a box as I pack up the ornaments. Some of them are still in their mailing envelopes, because I receive them from people like me who don't get their act together until the holidays are practically over, and they arrive pretty much when I've moved on to the most important birthday season of the year (late January - all hail those born under the sign of Aquarius and at the end of the Chinese Year, especially the Hinoe-uma Fire Horse). But I digress.
By packing the cards away, when eleven months later I get out my Christmas decorations again, the stack of last year's cards represents all the people I will be sending this year's cards to, since I already have their addresses right there.
Secondly, I use last year's cards to add to the holiday garlands I hang in doorways, on the lintel, along the mantel. It is a great way to keepsake any images you are really fond of. And it's not a complicated craft, so the gratification is pretty instantaneous.
Step 1: Put Cards on the Table
In this step, I tear the front part of the card off of the greeting section. I re-read the note from the previous year and admire the handwriting if appropriate. Some cards come with a vellum or cellophane overlay which I usually discard as too flimsy. I don't typically use lightweight holiday letter paper. I also have not used the holiday family photo cards I receive.
Step 2: Draw Circles on the Cards
The idea here is to cut out a lot of circle shapes from the cards that are all the same size. I can't draw, so I trace around the top of a drinking glass or something round that is about the size of an average-sized soup can or jelly jar. Don't try to center images on the card inside your circle. The image is going to be distorted by the next step, so focus instead of a nice arrangement of color and design. This is also why I don't use family photographs, although if someone made a garland completely out of photos I suppose it could turn out alright.
You can use a pen, pencil, or marker to trace around your shape. Keep in mind though, that you might regret scratching or permanently marking the object you are using to trace your circles. (The "goblet" in the picture is plastic).
Step 3: Cut the Circles Out
Caution: sharp objects in use. Cut inside the line if you have used a thick marker to draw your circles.
Step 4: Cut a Paper Clip Shape in One Edge and Then the Other
Okay, this is the slightly tricky part. Using a pair of scissors, cut a U-shaped slit in one side of each circle, and then the other. The slits don't meet in the center of the circle; they only go about 1/3 of the way in from each edge. And they are more upside-down J-shapes than U-shapes. They are, in fact, paper-clip shapes. Cut both slits in the same direction -- if you cut the first slit in a U-bend from right to left (or vice-versa), do the second slit the same way. Resist the urge to cut the second slit in the opposite direction of the first. You will see why in about three seconds.
Cut two U-shaped slits into two circles, then stop cutting slits even if you have more circles ready to go.
Step 5: Hook Your Garland Together
Take the two circles with U-shaped slits you just finished. Work them together just as if you were still in your twenties and you had one of those jobs that I don't need to describe any further but there were always plenty of paper clips. Did it work? Great. Cut a bunch more circles the same way, then link them together. The great thing about this project not using tape is that if you want to change the order of the circles in the garland to re-distribute color or design you can do so easily.
If you didn't cut the slits deep enough, or they are too thick, or in the wrong direction, or you cut the slits too deep and the circle tore, try again. Yes I know it was a pretty card and now it's ruined, just let it go.
Step 6: Admire Your Handiwork
Hang your garland in an available doorway, across the top of a window, bannister, etc., step back and crow. A few tips on hanging. A piece of Scotch tape at each end will work fine for short lengths of garland. But the longer it gets over one strand, the heavier. Stickier tape can make things worse by tearing the garland when you remove it, or ripping a chunk out of your paint surface. Try taping several short swags over the top of a long wall or opening instead of one long length. Or, on each end circle, staple a piece of ribbon or twine, then tie this to a small tack or pin it to the edges of a solid colored curtain. Also, if your garland hangs near a draft or heating vent, the movement of air can move the circles so much that they come apart.
I hope you enjoy playing around with this idea.