This Veteran’s Day, to honor the brave men and women who have and are currently serving our country and defending our freedom, the boys and I will be working on our Holiday Mail for Heroes cards.
Every year the Red Cross-sponsored Holiday Mail for Heroes collects cards between October and early December and then distributes them at military installations, veteran’s hospitals, and other locations. Therefore, as we are doing our Family Full of Thankfulness series and our Thankfulness Trees throughout the month of November, I thought this craft would serve as a great way to honor and thank our service men and women.
What you’ll need:
Cardstock for the star cutout
2 colors of paint (one color for the tree and another for the ornaments)
Adhesive (glue, glue stick, scrapbook adhesive or double-sided tape)
Sponge dauber (optional)
In trying to go with both a patriotic and Christmas theme, I chose to use light green cardstock for the card, red paint for the handprint Christmas tree, white paint for the ornaments, and a blue star for the tree top.
Step 1: Print
Since we are doing 50+ cards, I did not want to handwrite the greeting we include inside the card. So I designed our half-page printable message and printed them. (If you chose to print your message, do so BEFORE you do any painting. This way you can fold the card and know your sizing and so that the paint doesn’t mess up your printer.)
Step 2: Fold
Fold all the cards in half BEFORE doing any painting. You won’t want to worry about folding cards when you have wet paint around and probably on you too! Plus, this keeps the hand printing production running quickly and smoothly!
Step 3: Hand print the card
It sounds silly to say this, but before you start stamping your child’s hand on the cards, have the cards oriented the correct way for stamping.
Use the sponge brush to heavily cover your child’s hand with paint. (I realized that a heavy coat of paint on the hands meant we could stamp 2 cards before we needed to re-paint the child’s hand.)
Have the child close their fingers. Help them line up their hand to stamp the paper, stamp their hand together, then hold down the paper while they unstick their hand from the paper.
Step 4: Add “ornaments”
We chose to use a round sponge dauber to stamp our white paint onto the handprint tree for ornaments. Other ideas include:
- have your child fingerpaint the ornaments on
- glue on sequins
- glue on paper-punched dots
- I took the boys’ dauber and rolled it across the handprint to resemble the stripes of the flag
(NOTE: glitter is not allowed for the soldiers’ health.) Since we are sending so many, I didn’t want anything raised to mail off. You could however do mini pompoms or foam stickers.
Step 5: Add star
My mother has a Cricket cutting machine (a scrapbook cutting machine). I asked if she would cut us 50 stars from navy blue paper. However, you can cut out and glue on individual stars, paint a star using a 3rd color of paint, or add a star sticker.
(Tip: I chose to have the boys do ornaments first before the star just in case their ornament painting got a little crazy, they didn’t get any paint on the star.)
Step 6: Add tree trunk
I used a brown marker to quickly scribble (yes, it is not neatly colored on so that it matches the look of the handprint & ornaments) on a small tree trunk. Other alternatives to using marker: paint a trunk on or cut one from brown construction paper and glue on.
We stamped ALL of our handprint Christmas trees at once. We basically treated it like a mini production line. I worked with one child at a time, painted their hand heavy enough we could get 2 cards stamped before having to reapply paint. My husband took our stamped cards and laid them out on the table to dry. My older two boys each hand stamped 25 cards which took about 10 minutes each once we got our rhythm down.
If you are doing several cards, by the time you finish doing the handprints, the first cards should be dry enough to add ornaments on.
For details and letter guidelines for the Holiday Mail for Heroes program, visit http://www.redcross.org/support/get-involved/holiday-mail-for-heroes