Feb 142014

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of my readers, wherever you may be! My day began with a lovely bouquet of flowers from John, which is looking as good today as it ever will, given my history of botanical failures. I take a photo of John’s bouquets as soon as I can so that I can preserve the flowers in their best state.

Valentine's Day 2014 Flowers

In return, I sent John a dancing JibJab card. For $18 a year, you can have a lot of fun, uploading your photos and inserting them into ridiculous cards and videos that you can share via email, Facebook or—if you pay an extra fee—that you can download to your computer or upload to YouTube. Click on the image below to view one of two cards I sent John.

Brazilian Samba Valentine

Whether you have a special someone with whom to share Valentine’s Day or not, it appears that everyone can enjoy a Valentine’s Day gift, courtesy of the Internet. Take note of the following offers:

1. Download a free sewing pattern from Craftsy to make a cute Be Mine Tote designed by Melissa Stramel of Lilac Lane. Easy enough for a beginning sewer to assemble, the finished tote bag measures 10 inches x 19 inches x 4 1/2 inches.

2. Television sewing celebrity Nancy Zieman offers an adorable paper-pieced Fabric Valentine pattern you can download. Transform it into a special handmade card, incorporate it into a tote bag design, stitch a mini pillow, or add it to an apron or bib pattern. Use your imagination! And by the way, Nancy just published her autobiography, Seams Unlikely, which is a fascinating read. You can purchase the paperback version or the Kindle edition on Amazon. I purchased the digital version for $5.99 and am reading it via my Kindle app. If you have an Android device, you can download the book for $4.61 via Google Play.

3. Scrapbookers will appreciate Deena Boese’s journaling cards and border that appear in the February issue of Paper Crafts & Scrapbooking.

DSCN81634. In the same issue, you’ll find Jaimee Kaiser of Just Jaimee’s journaling cards. These are perfect for gift bags, scrapbooking or handmade cards.


5. Need a gift or candy box? The designers of We Love to Illustrate for Children have five too-cute-for-words gift boxes for you to download, print and assemble.

DSCN81626. Other Valentine projects to download include:

Hopefully at least one of the above projects will appeal to you, but if not, here’s one last “dancing card” for you to enjoy. If you have trouble imagining John and me as flower children of the sixties, rest assured that you are not alone. Click on the photo below to view the video.

John and I were in grade school when Sonny and Cher sang the song in this video.

John and I were in grade school when Sonny and Cher sang the song in this video.

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Jan 062014

“Yeah, sure,” you tell me. “Haven’t you looked at the calendar lately? Christmas is 12 months away!”

Yes, I know that. But today is January 6th, Epiphany, officially the last day of the Christmas season, the day when all of my holiday decorations will be taken down. We’re experiencing a polar vortex according to national news services (or -11 degrees, with a wind chill factor of -36 degrees), and somehow it seems appropriate to close this season with some holiday gift tags that can be used next Christmas. Besides, a few weeks before Christmas 2014, I will be doing jumping jacks because I had the foresight to get all of my tags made early!

In that spirit, I combed the Web for 12 appealing gift tags that you can download and print. Some of the designs were released in 2013 and others are older ones, but all of them are great accents for your holiday packages. The small round ones, of course, can also be used as cupcake toppers. You can even decorate a tree, window or mirror with them, make a fluttery mobile, or hang a paper garland made of gift tags on your tree or over a mantle. Click on the photos to download the digital file(s). Please note that photos do not show every tag design included in the digital file.

1. Free Printable Set of Christmas Tags you will LOVE, by The Cottage Market


2. Christmas Cupcake Toppers Free Printable and Cupcake Recipes, by The Cottage Market


3. Free Shabby Cottage Style Retro Tags and a Junkin Joe update, by The Cottage Market


4. Free Printable Download – Christmas Kraft II Gift Tags, by Vintage Glam Studio


5. Christmas Chalkboard Labels {free printable}, by How to Nest for Less


6. Printable Christmas Labels for Your Edible Gifts, by Lia Griffith

DSCN81317. Woodland Christmas Gift Tags & Labels, by Lia Griffith, with matching paper HERE


8. Chalkboard Christmas Gift Tags & Labels, by Lia Griffith, with matching paper HERE and HEREDSCN8127

9. Hand Illustrated Holiday Labels by Emily McDowell

DSCN812610. {Freebie} Christmas Gift Tags! by Claire of Fellow Fellow, with matching paper HERE


11. Primitive Christmas Tags, by Off the Beaten Path DesignsDSCN8120

12. Free Printable: Holiday Tags in Three Color Choices, by Creature ComfortsDSCN8121

Need more gift-wrapping ideas? Visit one of my past posts:

For even more gift-wrapping inspiration, you can find more than 100 free gift box templates and tutorials, along with overlays and digital papers, free tags, DIY flowers, 3-D houses, and much more, at Mel McCarthy’s blog, Mel Stampz. When I don’t know where else to look for a box shape, her blog is my number one resource.

Happy Ephiphany, and Happy New Year!

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Dec 282013

Do you take advantage of sales by purchasing your holiday wrapping paper, ribbons and tags on or after the 26th? This is a great way to cut costs for next year. However, I must admit I’m not a fan of big crowds, so I generally do not visit stores for after-Christmas sales. Instead, I take stock of my remaining gift wrapping supplies, and do a little upcycling and downloading to prepare for next year. Who says you have to wait 12 months to re-stock?

Begin by organizing the gift wrapping supplies you still have on hand. Our storage system is pretty simple: we stand up paper rolls inside a plastic tub. Once upon a time the tub had a lid where you could also keep ribbons, bows and tags, but it was so small that it was impractical, and some of our rolls were so tall that they exceeded the confines of the lidded tub. It was simply easier to toss the offending lid!


Before I stand up any roll in the tub, I slice off smaller pieces of wrapping paper that don’t run the full length of the roll, and set them aside for later use. Why? They tend to uncurl from the rest of the paper roll, and eventually crumple, crease or tear. Then I cut down the length of a cardboard roll from the bathroom or kitchen, and wrap it around the end of a tube of wrapping paper, “tying” it with a rubber band. If you wrap only a rubber band around your roll of wrapping paper, the paper often tears. The cardboard tube protects your paper and keeps the paper tightly coiled until it’s needed the next time. An alternative to using cardboard tubes and rubber bands is pony tail elastic.


If you like to sew, you can make yourself a wrapping paper organizer like the one designed by Christina of 2 Little Hooligans. All you need is an old kitchen stool, casters you can find at any home improvement store or office supply store, fabric, 2 packages of bias tape or ribbon, and of course some thread. Read Christina’s tutorial, Fat Quarter Friday: Wrapping Paper Organizer, to make an organizer for yourself.


Let’s return, for a moment, to those leftover pieces of wrapping paper I set aside. All year long, I save shopping bags that stores such as Bath & Body Works, Yankee Candle and others use to package your purchases. Often those bags are sturdier than any gift bags you can buy, so I can’t bear to throw them away. At the same time, I don’t want the store logo to be visible if the gift inside the bag doesn’t come from that store.

DSCN8002That’s where the leftover wrapping paper comes in handy. Using gift wrap, colored card stock, scissors, glue and decorative punches, I can give a gift bag a makeover.

DSCN8003Although you can make your gift tags from leftover bits of wrapping paper, I love to make tags from digital files I download from the Internet. Many tag designs are free to download (and that will be a separate post), but the ones I purchased are so reasonably priced that they are worth the cost. I fell in love with chalkboard tags this year, so here are my favorite selections, all found in Etsy shops. You can click on the photos to purchase the downloadable digital files.

Haley of Mooseberry Printables designs printable art, nursery prints and typography quote art. For the affordable price of $6, you get 12 holiday gift tags or cupcake toppers featuring four designs. Of course, you can print these as many times as you like. I backed each two-inch design with a scalloped circle that I punched out from red card stock, but the designs are beautiful all by themselves.


Shirley of For the Love of Design has a shop filled with printable stationery, party decor, and digital media. For $4, you can download nine printable chalkboard Christmas ornaments with unique geometric designs that you can hang from a tree or garland, affix to a mirror or window, or use as intended as holiday gift tags. Just punch a hole in the top after you cut out the designs with scissors. I framed these tags with scalloped circles in brown kraft paper.


Le Paper Café sells a truly prodigious collection of washi tapes, as well as other scrapbooking supplies, in addition to digital designs. Make sure you check out the Facebook page, where you’ll find at least one discount coupon code you can use in the Etsy shop. There is also a Web site where you’ll find many more items. I love these colorful little chalkboard tags that I printed on white card stock and whose edges I brushed with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Black Soot. You can download all eight tags for $3.50.


Getting ready for next year’s holiday wrapping season doesn’t have to feel rushed if you start early. In my next post, I’ll point you to my favorite free holiday gift tag printables. Use them for next year’s gifts, or—if you sell handmade goods online—include them with the holiday packages you ship. Tags are fun evening projects you can complete while watching TV . . . and they keep me, at least, from reaching for a handful of popcorn or a candy bar!

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.