So how did I display my Christmas cards after converting my usual display area to our new art wall? Like this!
I am very happy with how my display turned out, but it wasn't easy getting there. I had a few failed attempts before ending up with what you see above.
My first idea was to hang a piece of green cord with three Command hooks (affiliate link here and throughout the post) in the shape of a Christmas tree. I added little sprigs of holly to hide the two lower hooks and planned to add a yellow star to hide the top hook. I used mini clothespins to attach the cards to the cord. As Christmas cards started arriving, my display worked beautifully... for the first 8 cards or so. As the cords got wider apart, it was increasingly difficult to attach the cards to each other and have any level of stability. By the time we had received 13 cards, I abandoned the idea entirely.
The size and location were good, but I needed a better design.
I started brainstorming ways to add crossbars to the cord so that I could hang the cards from those instead of from the sides and each other. And then I had a (brilliant, if I do say so myself) idea: why not use picture rail?! We had a random 8 foot long piece in the garage. I'd cut it into five pieces, each longer than the next. I did some quick calculations. Yes! My design would be just about right to hold the number of cards we normally receive.
Of course, I didn't want to permanently attach a picture rail in the shape of a Christmas tree in my dining room, nor did I want to have to deal with putting up 10 Command hooks in the exact right place to have level shelves every year. There's no way I'd get them straight without a bunch of attempts. I needed something that would be easy to hang with a single hook or two, would keep the shelves level, and would fold up easily for storage. A tall order, but I had a plan.
I took the picture rail across the street and asked my neighbor to cut it for me. (Thanks, Curt!) I returned with five pieces: 0.5', 1.0', 1.5', 2.0', and 2.5', with half a foot left over. My parents were in town visiting, so I asked my dad, Woodworking Extraordinaire, to help. After doing some tests with the spare piece, he made a jig and used the drill press to drill holes exactly a quarter inch from each end of each piece using the skinniest drill bit we had.
I used multiple coats of spray paint to make the picture rails green. When they were completely dry, I brought them inside. I threaded a single piece of silver 18 gauge jewelry wire up through the left end of each piece, then down through the right ends. Then I experimented with different ways to lock each piece on the wire in the correct location so that they would be evenly spaced and hang straight. I tried crimp beads, clips, washi tape, and a bunch of other things that didn't work. Aargh.
Dad came up with the idea of using clear drinking straws. We took apart the tree, added a straw between each picture rail, and restrung it, looping the wire through twice on the bottom shelf to secure it. A brilliant man, my dad! It worked like a charm. The straws kept each shelf level and prevented movement without any measuring necessary. Here's a closer look:
I used a single Command hook to hang the tree, then we used the level to adjust one shelf. Total cost: $0! Every single item we used was something I had on hand. (Good thing I'm a craft hoarder! LOL!)
The display isn't flawless; for whatever reason, the lower picture rails want to fold up toward the wall. It's not a big deal; it still holds the cards. Next year, I'm going to get a bit of that blue poster stuff and put a dab behind the rails to hold them flat. I didn't have any on hand for this year.
Another change I'm going to make next year - longer straws. Standard straws, the ones I had on hand, are 7.75". Many of the cards we received are 7" tall or higher, which made for a tight squeeze. I'm going to buy some 10" straws and restring it so the cards have a little more breathing room.
My tree came down so quickly and easy. Just as I hoped, it folded up nicely for storage (2.5 feet long, 7.75" wide (the length of the straws), and about 2" tall). It fit easily in the tub that holds our shrinking stuffed snowman.
What do you think? Fabulous, right?!