Creativity at Christmas: Making Christmas Cards – My lessons learned

by Matthew Worwood

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Holidays and consider it my duty to make it a magical experience for my two boys. At first merging family traditions with my wife was sometimes a challenge, but for the most part it’s been a fun experience and we’ve now been able to choose the best of both worlds, and more importantly establish some of our own along the way.

SEE ALSO: Five ways to engage Creativity at Christmas

One of my new favorites (which started last year) is the painting of a ‘festive’ picture for our family Christmas card, which also provides an opportunity for Creativity because it involves children in the making of a new and useful product that will be shared with friends and family.


The picture for last year’s Christmas card. It shows our tree and fireplace.

Last year Arthur was three years old so I took the lead in sketching the picture with a pencil and gave him direction color selection and areas to paint. With the Christmas tunes playing in the background it was an enjoyable and extremely festive experience. I was pleased with the final outcome and wanted this year to be an even better experience, with Arthur taking more of a lead in the creation of the picture. However, because I wanted it better than last year, I unintentionally limited some of the opportunities for creativity because I had a predetermined vision of what the card should look like. This differed the experience from the spontaneity and ambiguity that existed last year.

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‘No let me do it’… Arthur said as I began to take the lead in sketching out the picture. Reluctantly I gave in, but told him to sketch the Christmas tree like a big triangle. He followed these instructions and the sketch wasn’t too bad. He then added some presents under the tree (all his he said), and an angel at the very top. Things had started off reasonably well, and he did a good job painting the tree with the green paint I had mixed. Feeling a little more confident I decided to offer suggestions as opposed to specific direction – this was when things started to go a little pear shaped. He took a BIG paintbrush and attempted to add some round ornaments, but the first was almost as big as the top of the tree. I showed him a little technique with the end of a pencil, which went ok at first, but then he got bored and wanted to paint snowflakes – WITH RED PAINT!!! No I said – Snowflakes aren’t Red. He said he liked the red, so I suggested he paint the presents red – he seemed ‘ok’ with this suggestion, but shortly afterwards realized we forgot the fireplace (which was in last year’s picture).

One of the few times Arthur was engaged. This year wasn't the fun and magical experience I remember from last year.

One of the few times Arthur was engaged. You can see how we had to add a second piece of paper to accommodate the fireplace.

‘Arthur we don’t need a fireplace in the picture this year, we can just have our tree’… ‘No we ‘need’ the fireplace’ he said. This was where I started to feel a little torn – I recognized that I wasn’t providing the type of freedom that he wanted, but at the same time I had my desire to produce a different and better picture from last year. My wants began to negatively impact the activity, and reluctantly I added an additional sheet of paper so Arthur could add the fireplace.

I forget to mention there was an additional element as well – Little Raymond, now 19 months caused a little more of a problem this year. By the time I had returned with the additional paper he was much covered in paint and I had to strip him down. This obviously changed the experience for me and I became tense and felt the pressure of time. Now having to distract Raymond, meant Arthur had less ‘suggestion’ and he had grabbed the BIG paintbrush again and started painting the flames for the fireplace – BIG FLAMES – bigger than the tree. Once finished he said ‘Daddy I’m done’ and walked away. I tried to get him back in engaged, but I knew that my input and direction had killed the activity and probably his creativity – I finished the card alone. Lessons Learned.

Man what a difference a year can make!

How to Make a Family Christmas Card

  1. Paint or draw the picture*
  2. Capture and crop finished picture using your smart phone
  3. Visit online printing company (I use Vista Print)
  4. Select a customized card option that best fits the size of your picture*
  5. Upload image and be sure to preview sample
  6. Confirm order

*it’s advisable to know in advance what size card you’re making the picture for

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Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, simply comment below and we’ll follow up with a link and password.



Matthew Worwood
Matthew Worwood is an educator, Creative Studies scholar-practitioner, and co-host of the Fueling Creativity in Education podcast. He is a professor of Digital Media Design at the University of Connecticut and a husband and proud father to three young boys.

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