A Father’s Day Gift Idea: Making Dad a Meaningful Card

I’ve never been a huge fan of greeting cards. Sure, over the years, three or four have given me a good chuckle. And, I’ve gotten a little teary reading through others, when trying to find a way to say I’m sorry…for someone’s loss, or for blowing up at my husband during my time of the month. Mostly though, I have a hard time giving store-bought cards to people—especially the ones with lots of words. I think it’s the implying “this is exactly how I feel about you” when it’s a stranger at some stationary company who came up with the message. I guess I’m just not okay with borrowing someone else’s lines to communicate how I feel. (Although, I’m not criticizing the rest of the world who supports the greeting card industry…hey, whatever works for you.)

I also admit that I’m not a good gift giver. It’s a bit of the perfectionist in me—I don’t like buying just any old thing. Yes, I’ve presented a few ties, wallets, and tool sets to Dad through the years, but usually, it’s all or nothing for me in the gift-giving department. It has to be…the…perfect…thing. And, realistically, how often do I find that? Not often enough. In fact, for my husband’s 36th birthday last month, I got him the first birthday present I’ve bought him in about five years. As he opened it, I even said, “hopefully, this gift is awesome enough to cover the last five years or so.” I got him a guitar that he’s been pining for probably since the last birthday I actually got him a gift. (It’s a really, really cool one that is acoustic but also hooks up to an amplifier). He even used it in a voice recital with one of his students last week. Check out the clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivukqhotU98. You can see the cool guitar, but also note the amazing pre-rockstar that my husband gives voice lessons to.

Anyway, in spite of my dislike for greeting cards and my non-gift-giving ways, I’m actually pretty diligent about cards. In fact, given my slight aversion to buying cards, I have a habit of putting a good amount of time into making my own cards for people…especially my husband. It’s been a while though.

With Father’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d share my card-making tactics with the world. I figure there may be someone else out there who doesn’t want something quite so contrived as a Hallmark message…but who needs a little help getting the wheels turning. Here we go…

How to Make Dad a Father’s Day Card He’ll Treasure


  • Paper (any really: white, colored, newspaper, gift wrap, craft paper, card stock, etc.)
  • Writing utensils (pens, markers, crayons, paints, etc.)
  • Pictures (photos OR old magazines to cut up OR a way to print pictures of the internet)
  • Scissors
  • Glue (I like glue sticks)
  • Packing tape OR self-laminating sheets OR a ride to a copy shop that will laminate for you


Step 1: Decide who the card is for. Is this for your husband? Your own father? Your grandfather? Your son or boss who is a dad? You get the idea. This particular card is not your average card and won’t be a one-size-fits-all deal. You can make ten cards—one for each dad in your life, but the idea with this card is that it’s individualized—all about the dad who it’s for.

Step 2: Decide who the car is from. Is this from just you? Is it from you and your kids? Is it from you, your husband, and the kids (this makes sense if the card is to your own father or father-in-law)? Or maybe you and your own siblings (for your father or stepfather)?

Step 3: Select a piece of paper for the foundation of the card. It’s up to you how creative you get here. There are some really interesting types of paper with colorful prints at craft stores. However, simple construction paper or even plain, old white printer paper works, if that’s all you have around. Newspaper or a scene from a page in a magazine will work too. If you choose one of these, you may need to paste white paper on the spots where there will be writing (rather than writing directly on the pictures, which may be hard to see.) Also, you may need to glue any pieces of very thin or flimsy paper to another piece of paper so it’s sturdy enough to work with.

Step 4: Design the cover. Although the cover can really be anything, here are a few ideas that make the card unique and personalized:

  • A photograph. Find (or take—you still have some time before Father’s Day!) a picture of Dad just being Dad. Use (or take) a picture of Dad talking to, playing with, carryiing, holding hands with, or interacting in some way with his kids. A digital picture (from a camera or even a cell phone) printed on paper will work just fine.
  • A collage of magazine cut-outs or pictures from the internet. Dig through some old magazines (or some websites) and cut out (or print) objects and scenes that represent what Dad is all about. Does he have a favorite food? Sport? Hobby? Skill? Interest? What are some of the things you think about when you think about Dad? Cut them out and paste them on the front of the card.
  • Draw or have someone draw, color, or paint something on the front. If you have multiple people contributing, you could give everyone a small piece of paper that they can fill with a picture and that can be pasted with the others on the front of the card.
  • Write “Happy Dad’s Day” or “To Dad” or something else in a fun font with colors, stencils, or pictures.

Step 5: Create your message for the inside. Put some thought into this one. Here are several questions you might consider answering (or have answered by the kids or whomever else the card is from) when crafting your message. Again, if there are multiple people contributing, consider giving each person his/her own slip of paper to write on that can be pasted into the card.

  • Why is Dad special? What makes Dad unique and wonderful?
  • What are some of the things Dad has done that make you proud?
  • How has Dad shaped some of the positive attributes in you or others?
  • What has Dad taught you or others (skills, lessons about life, etc.)?
  • When has Dad made you laugh? When has he helped you through a hard time?
  • How does Dad help you or others? What does Dad make easier for you?
  • What haven’t you thanked Dad for? What could you thank him for again?
  • What are some fun, funny, special, meaningful, or memorable moments you’ve shared with Dad?

If you’re still drawing a blank, here are some sample sentences to get you started:

  • I feel lucky you are my dad/husband because __________.
  • I’m proud that you are my dad/husband because __________.
  • You have made me a better person by __________.
  • You make a difference in the world with your __________.
  • You have taught [me, the kids, etc.] to __________.
  • Thank you for the time(s) when __________.
  • I will never forget the way you __________.
  • You are so special to me/us because __________.

Step 6: Make it last. My husband keeps all the cards and other gifts that my stepson and I have made him in a box in his drawer. It’s nice to know that the cards we put a lot of time into making will be around for a while. There are three simple options I use to make a paper project into something more permanent. Choose the one that makes sense for you:

  • Clear, packing tape. This is the one I’ve used since I was a kid—before I could drive to a copy shop or craft store. You basically just align strips of tape parallel to each other over the surface of the card and trim them down so they fold over at the edges until the whole card is covered.
  • Use self-laminating sheets. (Basically, these are clear sheets with adhesive on one side. You can buy these at most craft stores.) It’s as simple as sticking the sheet over each side of the card and trimming it down to fit.
  • Take your masterpiece to your local copy/print shop (Kinko’s, etc.) and have them laminate it.

Let me know if you have any questions about the process. Also, let me know how it goes if you try it out! I’ll post a picture of mine when it’s done. Happy card making!!


Posted on June 8, 2011, in Parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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