L ast year, I had this brilliant idea that every single part of our Christmas card would be handmade and unique. I mean EVERYTHING – from the screen printed, folk-art animal and baby Jesus on the front, to the handmade envelope, to the individually selected vintage stamps, to the handwritten address. They were going to be the most epic Christmas cards ever to hit the gaze of postal workers. EVER.

I was convinced that this is how everyone would feel about our cards:

This plan would have remained brilliant if one of these two things had been true:

A) Bobby and I had existed in a holiday card black hole where that was the only thing we had going on in our lives for two solid weeks.
B) We had started the process in – oh, let’s say, July.

Seeing as neither of those options were our reality, it would have been the wise thing to scale down the dream. But did this extreme crafter do that? Not a chance.

I share this as a sort of cautionary tale – and because, once I post about this year’s Christmas cards, it will be evident that I am slowly but surely learning the value of sanity around the holidays.

For last year’s masterpieces, I thought it would be fun for us to try our hands at screen printing. New Orleans had this amazing community print shop and we had yet to go there. What better time than two weeks before Christmas? (Answer: there would have been LOTS of better times.)

On the night that we went to the print shop, it was one fiasco after another. First, it was uncharacteristically cold on the night that we went. I had anticipated for this to be a cozy little neighborhood print shop with mulled cider and a fire going in the corner so I didn’t think the weather would even be a factor. We’d be inside, obviously.

Nope. The shop was basically an open air affair – it resided inside an old…garage, maybe? In the above picture, you don’t see the front of the space – which was wide open to the humid, night air.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a cool spot and I think the magic of New Orleans is that artistic ventures exist in the most unexpected places. It just wasn’t ideal for the particular night that we went with the temperature hovering around a damp, cold 50 degrees. So we were freezing (stop laughing, people from New York and Minnesota and Canada). Don’t be deceived by our smiles in that above picture, we were just trying our best to put on brave faces.

On top of this, some construction was going on in this neighborhood and when Bobby parked on the side of the street, his tire popped on a nail. So we had to call AAA and Bobby dealt with the tire while I tried to figure out how the print shop worked. He was not a happy camper.

Seeing as it was so close to Christmas, everyone had the great idea to get in some last minute crafting. Since it’s a community run shop, there was only one volunteer and they hadn’t anticipated the demand on the materials and stations…so we had to wait about an hour before we were even able to get started.

A spot finally opened up, though, and we started the process. We transferred my image to a transparency, burned that on to a screen, picked out paint colors, and started to print the cards one by one. This may have been a reasonable task for a small set of 25 cards or so…but our list was hovering around 150. This meant we were shivering over the screen printing station for a good two  to three hours. This may sound dramatic, but trust me when I say it was rather grueling.

Seeing as this printing process was just the beginning of this whole project, these Christmas cards weren’t a sprint, they were a marathon.

Unfortunately for Bobby, he didn’t exactly know he was signing up for 26.2 miles of crafting within a span of a week when I had first mentioned my idea. And being the wonderful, supportive husband that he is, he didn’t want to rain on my parade. By the time we were done with this printing, we were in too deep to look back – next up: handmade envelopes! (If anyone has a time machine and is feeling altruistic, please go back and just gently talk me out of this. Thanks.)

Stay tuned for more insanity in Part II of this series!