Handmade Valentine Cards with Pop Open Cards

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

This post is sponsored by Compendium, all opinions are my own.

Today we’re going to talk about (some of) this year’s Valentine’s Day cards. It always amazes me that I find the energy to do this right after the Christmas rush, but Valentine’s Day is one of those days that I really enjoying telling some of the ladies in my life how much they mean to me.

We’re going to take a look at the real process of making these cards today. Guess what? You can’t make 30 cards all during daylight hours on really pretty tables, it’s just impossible. Sometimes you need to do it while watching Girl Meets World in front of your computer on your far-too-tiny desk. So we’re taking a look at all of that today.

Also, I’ve been giving myself a hard time recently for making such repetitive cards. It’s so easy to make a rectangular card that has a piece of construction paper on the front with a smaller rectangle popping out from it stating the message (for example, this year’s Christmas cards). So this time I told myself I had to be more creative.

First, I chose the colors. I stuck to muted colors. Partially because they remind me more of Valentine’s Day and partially because I think Sarah needs all of my bright-colored card stock for The Blog Connect.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Then I started folding. You might not be able to tell from the photo below, but those cards are actually folded in thirds, not halves.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

And then came the fun part. The cuts. Two diagonal cuts in the middle of my rectangle. That ought to spice it up.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

I tried making a few of them and then chose one as a template and repeated making it two dozen times.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Sooner than later, I had finished all of the card bases.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Then I decided I wanted to use my scrap paper form the original cuts to add alternate colors to the cards. It looked a lot like this:

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Step one:

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Step two:

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Then the sun went down. Girl Meets World went on. And then my life started to look like this. (Yes, those tissues were absolutely necessary. Did you people even watch the last two episodes of Girl Meets World.?)

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel

Once I finished the adding pops of color to the fronts of all the cards I had to figure out where to write Happy Valentine’s Day. Which was SO much harder than I thought it was going to be. First I thought it would be good to write it on a rectangle at the top of the card, but with so many diagonal lines my rectangle looked super awkward. (I probably should have tested this out before cutting thirty purple rectangles.)

Then I tried writing Tory’s name at the top on a sheet of white paper to hold it over the top of the card to see if I liked something like that any better.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel
Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel

It looked better, but the shape was still wrong. Then I finally succumbed to the fact that I was going to need to cut a weird shape for the top piece as well. Just to you know, keep it asymmetrical. (I think I knew the answer the whole time, but I was trying to avoid it because I knew how much work it was going to be. Note to self: Don’t waste time, just do it in the first place.)

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel
Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel

Then I added a Chrystina-usual: dotted dashes. I wrote everyone’s name on the top of the card, signed my name on the back, addressed all of the envelopes, and stamped all of the envelopes so that the next time I jumped into this project all I would have to do was write in the cards.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel
Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards - Workshop via Chrystina Noel

Also. Sometimes you send cards overseas and get to use a whole bunch of the stamps you have laying around. Which is always really fun.

Here’s a look at what the final product looked like (I waited for sunshine to take these photos.)

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

So. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for being here. If you’ve read my Valentine’s Day posts before you know that I love to try to come up with other things besides cards to send to people. For example, two years ago I put teabags all of my cards. (Last year I sent socks, which was slightly more expensive than I had anticipated. Oops.)

Also around a year-and-a-half ago I received a card from a friend that had this little bite-sized pop-open card in it. And I loved it. I loved it so much that I added it to my display/work shelves so I could look at it all the time.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

What, you can’t find it in that hot mess? (Ha.) Let me help you out:

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

There it is, right there! The rainbow-polka dot colored thing. It’s an adorable little card that you pop open (get it?) and there’s a happy little message. For example:

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

They’re sold by Compendium, a company whose motto is “live inspired,” and they sell so many adorable paper goods: notebooks, greeting cards, stationery, and more. (My kind of place, huh?) And the boxes that they’re sold in are also adorable.

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

So I’m going to be putting pop open cards in each person’s Valentine so they get a tiny little package that looks like this:

Handmade Valentines with Pop Up Cards via Chrystina Noel

I’m super excited about it and I hope my friends enjoy the little moments of inspirations as much as I did. So excited about this year’s cards, now I just need to finish writing in them.

Do you send Valentine’s Day cards? What was your process like? Also, no shame in buying boxed Valentines (especially Disney ones) or Fun Dip Valentines (because Fun Dip). I’m also really excited to give out the rest of my Minted Classroom Valentines day cards from last year at the office this year. There is construction equipment on it. Can you say networking at it’s best? So good. So excited. Remember to have fun with it!

(Also. Shhhhhh. No, Ben’s card definitely is no where near done yet. I’ve got 5 whole days left… plenty of time to think of something.)

Small Goals: February 2017

Chrystina Noel Small Goals February 2017

One month of small goals down. What have I learned? I really stink at small goals. Well, that might not be true. I’m great at accomplishing things, but I currently have no system in place to accomplish small goals. To explain further, I wrote this great blog post about all the goals I was going to accomplish, but then didn’t write the goals down anywhere I was going to remember to do them.

That said, I totally just looked around my desk and realize I have 4 started to do lists. So I might just need a new to-do list system. I’m waiting for the day that I put my whole life into Asana, but until then, I’ll just rewrite these 4 post-it notes on one new post-it note.

So let’s check in. Here were last month’s goals:

  1. Go through my closet to get rid of anything I haven’t worn in the past year.
    Success. I still feel like I have too much stuff (most of which is basics or dresses), but at least I went through it again.
  2. I want to make progress on the books & magazines on my night stand.
    Not a chance. I’m listening to too many podcasts right now to read books. And I’m not flying enough to have that non-internet time blocked off already.
  3. Repackage my Christmas Ornaments in an efficient way when we take the tree down.
    Yes. It was a beautiful thing. I bought small little bubble bags for each ornament.
  4. Make progress on the blogging e-courses I’ve signed up for.
    Not a chance again. That said, Jess Lively’s Life With Intention Online has started up again and I’m taking that, so maybe that counts.
  5. Figure out how to close down my Chrystina Noel shop.
    I did this right after I finished the last post. I think that’s the key to getting this done.

(Guys. If any of you have any suggestions for how to make small goals, that would be great. Right now I’m having a very difficult time differentiating between small goals and things already on my to-do list.)

For the next month, here’s what I’m going to try to accomplish:

  1. Make my first king cake.
    I can’t believe I’ve never done this before. Working with dough kind of makes me nervous (what if that yeast thing fails?), but I’m excited to give it a try. Mardi Gras brunch  here I come. (The reason this is still on the list even though the brunch is already planned is because I can totally see myself copping out and just making cinnamon buns.)
  2. Make Ben a nice Valentine’s Day card.
    Last year Ben made me a really nice Valentine’s Day card. I tend to get in a card-making rut and they all start to look the same. I’d like to step outside of my comfort zone on this one this year.
  3. Leave work at the office.
    I’ve been really bad about this recently. I’ve been putting personal stuff in the middle of the day resulting in needing to take work home with me in the evenings. It’s not good for my sanity (or anyone around me). So I’m going to start trying to be more productive during the day so I can leave it behind for a few hours.
  4. Finish the branding for the podcast Jess and I want to start.
    Branding is no joke, man. I’m not even trying to get the perfect branding. I’m very aware that whatever branding we create for our podcast is subject to change in the next few months once we learn more about it, but trying to create a logo is nearly impossible if you ask me. I’m far too left-brained for this. I’m just going to have to set time aside and see what I can do.
  5. Get my heat fixed.
    I’ve been without heat for a good number of weeks this winter. It involves carrying a portable space heater up and down the stairs every time I switch rooms, which is kind of obnoxious. I don’t know how people get anything fixed though. Especially things that you kind of need to try something, wait a few days, see if it fixes it, and try it again. WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS. That said. I’m really sick of being cold. So I’m going to have to figure something out.

And that’s it. Let’s see how I do. I’m linking up with Nicole from Writes Like a Girl about Small Goals today. If you’re looking for some inspiration in life head on over to her page to see what she and a bunch of other cool people are doing.

Currently Vol. 3

Chrystina Noel Currently Vol. 3

Hi everyone. I’m not even sure I know where to start about this week. I have no idea how I fit so many things in. That said, it does explain why I was so flipping exhausted by Friday. I’m working on cutting back on activities. Now that we have solidified both lunch, a party location, and the speaker line-up (almost) for The Blog Connect, I should be able to sleep better at night. (It’s coming together quite wonderfully, y’all. I seriously hope to see you there if you’re a blogger!) This past week was full of:

Celebrating Ben’s 30th birthday. (The cake above was courtesy of his mother. She did an awesome job.)

Enjoying homemade dinners. This week it was Tara’s turn to cook and she made delicious portabella mushrooms stuffed with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, and goat cheese. Then I made burritos and this taco recipe to get me through the rest of the week.

Dying my hair back to bright red. The cycle is dye it red, let it fade for 2-3 months, dye it again. At least the faded orange-y color still looks pretty good.

Working really hard on The Blog Connect and PHLbloggers. Between the weekly meetings, the 30+ emails a day flying back and forth, smaller group meetings, PR meetings, and fiscal year planning meetings, this has been taking up a lot of my time. I’m so lucky to have such a great team working on this with me. They’re crazy just like I am. In the best way possible.

Being an adult and getting my taxes done.

Learning all of the music for the Broadway Blockbusters performance at the end of February. There are selections from Mamma Mia, Hairspray, Beauty and the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, and more.

Super super sad that Girl Meets World has ended. I don’t know what my new guilty pleasure show is going to be anymore. (The Bachelor will suffice for now, but it’s seasonal.)

Meeting and chatting with some really cool people. Between a networking event at work, scheduled Skype calls, and scheduled coffee dates I must have talked to over a dozen new people this week. I always love getting new ideas and hearing new perspectives.

Trying (and loving) Grateful Plate meals. It’s a Philadelphia-based homemade weekly meal delivery service. We got to try a few of the meals, and every one of them was delicious.

I’m hoping things calm down a little bit this week, I’ll keep y’all posted though. Have a wonderful week!

How To Choose a Party Theme: Party Planning 101

Party Planning 101 - How To Choose A Party Theme via Chrystina Noel

This year I will be doing a series about how to plan a party when you have no idea where to start. I’m super excited to share with all of you some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way on my party planning adventure.

How to choose a party theme might seem like a strange place to start, but I think it’s the most important. Once you choose a party theme, the rest of the decision-making process becomes much simpler.

All parties have a theme, whether it’s “just because” or celebrating a specific holiday. If you choose to have a “just because” party, you may need to be more specific in choosing the feel, colors, or menu for your party. If you are celebrating a specific holiday, a simple Pinterest search will find you all of the things you need. Here are some ideas to choose a party theme that’s right for you:

Step 1: Choose a Basic Concept

Check the calendar

A calendar can give you great ideas for party themes. Each month has its own unique set of holidays, each with its own cause for celebration. For example:

  • New Year’s Eve
  • Chinese New Year
  • Groundhog’s Day
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mardi Gras
  • Patrick’s Day
  • Earth Day
  • Easter
  • Fourth of July
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Yom Kippur
  • Diwali
  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

And if the major holidays aren’t your cup of tea, you can find plenty of smaller “fun” holidays to celebrate like: Pi Day (March 14), Geek Pride Day (May 25), International Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), or National Cupcake Day (December 15).

Think about things you love

This is probably my favorite way to choose a party theme. Things that I love include: chai, bubble tea, romantic comedies, greeting cards, Disney, singing, photography, and buffalo sauce. I assure you that each one of these things can easily be turned into a party theme (or at least menu item). For example:

  • Chai: I once hosted I “find the best chai” party.
  • Bubble Tea: I once hosted a bubble-themed baby shower and served bubble tea.
  • Romantic Comedies: I definitely have hosted at least one movie night in my day.
  • Greeting Cards: I’ve hosted parties at my house where people made Valentine’s Day cards or Christmas Cards for people they love.
  • Disney: I hosted a Disney movie marathon party for my 28th birthday where we watched Mulan and Aladdin back-to-back.
  • Singing: I’ve hosted many a caroling party during the holidays – and am still looking for enough people to host a vocal jazz reunion party form college
  • Photography: I’ve hosted events where I offered free headshots for people.
  • Buffalo sauce: I once had a beer tasting where I made buffalo chicken grilled cheese for everybody to make sure they avoided being completely plastered.

If there’s something you love, you should feel absolutely confident about turning it into a party, because there are definitely other people who love it too. Other things that have been on my radar for a while include: Hey Arnold, N64, cereal, nail polish, and PowerPoint. (Don’t ask.)

Consider being more abstract

There’s nothing to say that the theme of the party needs to be a physical, tangible thing. The theme of your party could be love. Or the color silver. Or your favorite song. Or photosynthesis. You really can pick anything as your basic idea.

Step 2: Brainstorm

You might think that brainstorming comes first, but really brainstorming comes second. Once you choose an idea, I recommend making a list of every possible thing that comes to mind about that topic. Google or Pinterest should be able to help you out here if you’re running into a problem.
Here are four examples I put together below:

  • The color purple: grapes, grape jelly, Barney, that book by Alice Walker, purple, eggplant, that big character from McDonalds – Grimace, Purple Rain, paint or draw with only purple, eat only purple food, wear only purple clothes
  • Recycling: environmentally friendly, planting, reusing materials, making outfits out of recycled materials, volunteering, farmers markets, gardening, clothing swap, book trade
  • Sock hop: 1950s music, jukeboxes, Buddy Holly, motown, poodle skirts, making poodle skirts, prom king and queen, Grease, the pink ladies, records, diners, red and white checkered things, malt shakes, trivia games, dance off, hula hoop competition, limbo to la bamba, make root beer floats, burgers and fries
  • Harry Potter: dress up like characters, turn your house into Hogwartz, Harry Potter trivia, watch a Harry Potter movie, act like your favorite Harry Potter character, play Quidditch, turn Harry Potter into a drinking game, have a book discussion

Once you have a bigger list of ideas related to the basic concept, you can choose just one specific theme where you want to spend your time, energy, and money.

Step 3: Reality check

Unfortunately it can’t all be fun and games, we need to start factoring in reality. You don’t need a full idea of what you’re going to do for the party yet, but you want to make sure that you think about approximately how much time, energy, and money you’re going to be spending. And remember not to get discouraged, you can always find a way to make an idea less complicated early in the game or add a little extra fun to a simple idea to pizzazz it up. For example:


Idea Start Small Add Some Pizzazz
Host an Epcot drink-around-the-world party with stations for each country. Host a tasting of a few of your favorite beers. Choose a few beers from different countries.
Host a prom-themed birthday party at an outside venue. Invite friends over to hang out in dresses and dance to music. Only play songs from the 80s.
Host a Murder Mystery Party. Play a game of Clue. Make it a drinking game.
Host a three-course meal. Host a potluck and have everybody make one of the dishes. Drink champagne.
Host a wine tasting. Pair one wine with two different cheeses. Play jazz music in the background for ambiance.

As mentioned before, there are three things you need to consider: time, energy, and money. Here is a closer look at things you should be considering when thinking about your party theme:


How much time do you have to plan the party? If it’s only a few days, you probably want to stick to something simple. If you have a few weeks and the help of a few friends, you can choose something a little more complicated. We will talk more about this later on in the New Hostess series.


While this is a similar discussion to ‘time,’ it’s slightly different because energy takes your mental brain capacity into play. If you’re someone who is already over-committed – or just even somebody with very little patience in general (like myself), you’re probably going to want to choose a relatively simple concept.


This is the biggest one. Your biggest costs are going to be venue, food, and drinks. So, if in your brainstorming you are able to keep those costs down, you will be well on your way to planning a budget-friendly party. Yet again, we will talk more about this later on in the New Hostess series.


If you’re looking for a place to start, you can check out some of the previous parties I have hosted over the years.

My 28th Disney-Themed Birthday Party via Chrystina Noel
Hosting a 22-Ounce Beer Party via Chrystina Noel

That’s the basic 101 of how to choose a party theme. I’d love to hear what party themes you’re considering right now. Let me know in the comments below – or I can help you brainstorm. I’m always down for that.