Writing has come a long way since the days when ancient Egyptian scribes used a stylus to draw on papyrus scrolls. These days, most correspondence seems to happen over e-mail. It's immediate, and you don't have to worry about digging up paper, pen and the ever-elusive postage stamp.
Even so, there's still something magical about a physical letter. A hand-written letter says, "I care enough to take the extra time and effort."
And the holiday season is the perfect time to do just that. Encourage your kids to practice the dying art of letter-writing with these homemade envelopes, which will dress up any letter or card you send. They also make great gifts, especially for grandparents or other relatives who live far away.
1. Gather your supplies. If you are using old magazines, that may mean a trip to the basement. For wallpaper sample books, call local wallpaper or paint stores and ask if they have any old ones-they give these away for free. As an alternative, you can use decorative paper from a craft store.
2. Create an envelope template. You have a couple of options. One is to take a store-bought envelope (any size or shape) and gently pry the flaps loose. Another is to find patterns on the Internet (try www.ruthannzaroff.com/mirkwooddesigns/index.htm), then print and cut them out. Take your printout or store-bought envelope, trace around it on a sheet of poster board. Cut this out. (This thicker template will make tracing your final envelopes easier, especially for younger kids.)
3. Make the envelopes. Lay your poster board template over the wallpaper or magazine page and trace around it. Cut out your envelope and fold the flaps in. If you printed a pattern from the Internet, follow its instructions. With a template created from a store-bought envelope, simply duplicate the way it was originally folded. Then secure the side and bottom flaps with a glue stick (heavy wallpaper may require tacky glue).
4. Use your envelopes. Either write letters and mail them, or wrap a bundle of envelopes as a present. (If your envelope is a dark color or made from glossy paper, use self-stick labels for the mailing and return addresses, rather than writing directly on the envelope.) Either way, you're guaranteed to make someone's day.
Editor's tip: If you want your envelopes to be larger or smaller than your original template, enlarge or reduce the pattern on a photocopier.