Sunday, December 9, 2012


... look like they were made by your kids.


We’ve all been there. Christmas is bearing down on us like a huge snarling beast. And, especially if you live in China, the pressure’s on to send your presents if you’ve any hope of them arriving by about February.

You’re on your way to the post office and suddenly you scream: “THE CARDS!!! THE CUTE LITTLE HANDMADE CARDS THAT SHOW OUR DISTANT RELATIVES THE KIDS ARE THINKING OF THEM!!!”

There’s not a child in sight. The unhelpful little buggers are out, probably at school or something. Never fear. Here’s what you do.

1. Go to your kids' art & crafts box. See if they've made any Christmas cards.

2. None? Then see if they've made anything at all. It's possible to convert most things into Christmas cards, just by adding a few appropriate words and names.

Remember, cards made by kids don't have to come with a
relevant theme ...

... or be too coherent.

3. Voila! You're done. Jam it in the appropriate present, post it and flick on the TV. Another year done.

Of course, kids being kids, they might have really left you in the lurch this time. You're going to have to have a craft session of your own.

1. Paper folding.

Take a piece of paper or cardboard. Fold it. Badly.

In the fashion game I think it's called
"on the bias".

2. Drawing and writing.

Your choice of colours is important. Anything that's hard to read - like yellow on yellow - is good. Do a drawing. If you draw something that is, say, symmetrical, then rip it up and start again.

Words are vital. They shouldn't flow too well. Just splatter
some around that remind you of Christmas. Spelling
matters. For example, we sent a cousin a gift last year
with her name spelled differently on card, gift and
envelope. And it's only got four letters! Also, words
broken with a dash and spread of two lines because
you've unexpectedly run out of space are excell-

3. Writing ugly.

One common pitfall to avoid is that your writing will be too neat. You won't fool anyone. Cousin Tracey in England, or whoever, will open their Christmas gift and immediately get a sour taste in their mouth, a bit like when I opened a book I was given one year which bore the inscription: "To Janet, Hope you enjoy this book." (NB: Watch out for this sort of thing if you buy your presents from second-hand book stores).

There are a few techniques to make sure your writing isn't neat.

Use your less dexterous hand - right hand
if you're left-handed, or left hand if you're

Close your eyes.

Close your eyes and use your left hand.

For another method I was inspired by actor Daniel Day Lewis for his unforgettable role in that film ...

"In The Foot Of The Father"

4. Using household items to make your job more difficult.

Perhaps wear a blindfold for a more
disoriented feel.

And bulky ski gloves can make a felt
pen wonderfully hard to grip.

In fact, you might combine a couple of things from your ski bag ...

5. Writing positions.

As a golfer might change their stance, a card fraudster can experiment with their writing position.

"Under the table"


I call this "The Wild One" - going at it
backwards like how Jerry Lee Lewis,
coincidentally the father of Daniel
Day, used to play the piano at his
addled best.

Or, if you have one lying around, use the real thing.

6. Losing track.

Remember, most kids have an attention span only about as long as the average husband's. Don't be afraid to lose track midway through what you're doing.

"Christmas" is a long word. Some kids will get bored
halfway through it, or go on a tangent. Perhaps images
might get confsed.

Or creepy.

7. Decorations.

All kids love glitter. Except if his first name's Gary.

These days it comes ready-made in
tubes, mixed with a gluey-substance.
Back in my day etc etc ...

It comes out fairly easily. Start with just a little ...

... and then go berserk.

By the end it should look like a fairy has
vomited all over the thing. Stickers also
come in handy. They're everywhere
these days too.

Again, relevance is optional.

There are other forms of decoration. Like a gooey wet glitter mess, these should be as impractical as possible.

Soft things are OK, but will not break, so your relatives
won't have the chance to feel sorry for your poor little
poppet's ruined efforts, which always helps in a good

7. Trimmings.

These days you can buy all sorts of fancy scissors to put curvy or jagged edges onto things.

Go at your card with a pair of fancy scissors. Hard!
Remember, size is irrelevant, as I found last year
with daughter Evie's hand-made paper present
to me.

I thought she was kidding.
Dads and presents, eh?

For best results, use two pairs of scissors.

8. Putting shit all over it.

A child-made card will, in the process of being made, usually end up covered in various inappropriate substances. Perhaps you could even start with a piece of paper which is already sullied.

This should not include coffee rings.
They're a dead giveaway.

Jam is good.

If you're Australian, like me, you might
also use Vegemite, the tasty, distinctive
bread-spread which has kept most of
us healthy from birth. If you can't get
some, simply go to your local brewery,
find a freshly drained brewing vat
and scrape up the salty, yeasty black
tar that's left on the bottom. It's pretty
much the same stuff.

Or use boot polish, though this doesn't taste quite as good.

Or if this Christmas caps a year when you've been doing
some social climbing, you might use caviar.

A few more stick-on eyes for that
absurd feel, and you're almost done.

"I can't believe it's not children!"

So there you have it. Just follow these easy steps and this year "yule" look like the most Christmassy family in your clan!

NEXT WEEK: How to say "Happy New Year" like it really means something.


  1. You had a lot of fun with that post. I have streaming eyes with laughter from reading it.

    I hope your relatives don't read your blog, or that they are in on the joke. :)

    1. Hehe. Thanks Sarah. Maybe I'll play a game with my relatives this year called "Spot the fake".

  2. ahahah
    This is too funny!
    I am sure your kids have too much fun with you.

    I did not realize that you are an Aussie! I used to detest vegemite but started spreading it.
    oi oi oi
    Aussie Aussie Aussie

    1. Oh - so you're a non-Australian Vegemite convert? Or an Aussie raised by dingoes? Sometimes here in Beijing the Vegemite disappears off the shelves for a while. Without any notice. We all run around whispering to each other whether there's a secret stash somewhere in the city. It's great for cuts and burns too. Probably.

  3. Great post, Trevor - We have had a lot of this type of handicraft over the years. Oh and I'm a Marmite girl myself!

  4. You made me weep again - but in a good way. Thank you for making the task of writing my own Christmas cards, which I've been putting off for days, suddenly seem much less of a chore. Off to find the glitter glue...

  5. you are a loon!! Loving it as always. Merry Christmas. Mrs T of Yorkshire