Craft: DIY Orthodox Christmas cards

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download_diy_xmas_cards Download PDF
(High resolution – 58 MB)

Sneak peek:


We love original Byzantine and post-Byzantine art. It is true that our western painting-trained eyes may sometimes find its lack of realism crude or awkward, while the abundance of contemporary Orthodox icons, ever-present in our everyday lives, and in varying degrees of artistic quality, can sometimes make it hard to understand this deeply meaningful art form. We find that appreciating Orthodox iconography requires some effort on the viewer’s part, but it can be extremely rewarding; the more we are exposed to it and the more we study it, the more we realize its beauty and get to feel its deep spiritual meaning. Returning to the old masters, and carefully observing their work, often leaves us with a sense of awe.

In this spirit, working on our Lord’s Nativity icon, both for Sunday School and for an upcoming Orthodox Pebbles post, we were searching the Public Domain for original Byzantine and post-Byzantine examples. We came across quite a few that we found very moving, when we got an idea: Why not use them to create high-quality printable Christmas cards?

So we are very happy to present our free printable Christmas card package! You can use it to easily and quickly create Orthodox greeting cards, choosing among five beautiful original icon designs (details for each icon can be found on the back of every card). We tried it with excellent – almost professional-looking – results.

You will need

  • Our printable PDF file (high-resolution, 58 MB).
  • Any decent color printer.
  • Heavy-weight, matte, letter-sized printer paper (we used Epson Ultra Premium Presentation Matte paper and were extremely pleased with it).
  • Letter-sized colored paper (we used red and green). Plain printer paper works fine, but for a more finished look, a bright-colored paper with a wove finish (such as this option in red or green) would work better.
  • Retractable razor knife.
  • Ruler.
  • Self-healing cutting mat (optional).
  • Tacky glue.

What to do

  • Print a card, making sure to check High Quality on your printer settings and Actual size in the Acrobat print options window. Wait a few minutes for the card to dry, fold it in half and set aside.
  • Fold a colored page in half like the card. Trim about 1/4 inch from one of the short ends (you will be trimming both sides of the page simultaneously). Trim about 1/8 inch from the unfolded long end.
  • Glue the colored paper inside the card, as pictured. Only a few tiny drops of glue right on the fold are enough. Carefully close the card, press on the fold with your hand, and let it dry for a few minutes.
  • Open up your card. You are now ready to write your message.
  • A9 envelopes (8 3/4″ x 5 3/4″) fit these cards well. Red or green ones would have a festive look. We found nice ones at Amazon, both in red and green. A fun idea would be to use red envelopes for green-lined cards and vice versa. Another pretty option would be to use red or golden foil-lined white envelopes, like the ones found here or here.

We hope you will enjoy our cards and we’d love to hear from you if you do get to use them. Also, don’t forget to check out our other Christmas card-related post: Christmas cards for Orthodox prisoners.