Rancho Penasquitos, California, is famous for its Christmas Card Lane display, a low tech alternative to the gaudy, power-guzzling Christmas displays found in other communities. There is no need to sell your soul to the local power company with a light display worthy of the Griswolds. Instead of cursing as you untangle sixty or more strings of outdoor lights, you simply paint a sheet of plywood, add some hinges for the stand, and you have a perpetual tribute to Christmas that won't take a bite from your wallet every minute it stays plugged in. Draw your scene freehand, or use a projector to enlarge a Christmas coloring page. Properly sealed, your life-sized Christmas card can be used for years. When you get tired of the scene, just paint a new one over it.
Things You'll Need
- Clear Acrylic Deck Coating
- 6" Laying In Paintbrush
- 2' By 6' Sheet Of Plywood
- Acrylic Paint: Red, Yellow, Blue, Black, White
- Paint Pan
- 6' By 10' Plastic Tarp
- Christmas Coloring Pages
- Power Drill With Countersink Bit
- 24" Piano Hinge
- 2" Edging Paintbrush
- Wood Screws
- One Piece Of 1" By 2" Stock, Two Feet Long
- Transparency Sheets
- 4" Laying In Paintbrush
- 4' By 8' Sheet Of Plywood
Lay a sheet of plywood on a tarp and seal the front surface with two or three coats of professional quality acrylic deck coating. Allow to dry for 24 hours between coats. Turn over when third coat is dry and seal back side and the edges. Be sure to use a large laying in brush and cross hatch rather than painting in up and down strokes to ensure that every crack and crevice is sealed. Prop sealed plywood sheet against a wall, with the longest side of the card as the vertical. Seal all other wooden pieces, including the 2' by 6' sheet of plywood, the same way.
Choose a favorite Christmas coloring page. Pages are available online, or you can purchase a Christmas coloring book. Make a transparency of your coloring page by loading your printer or a copy machine with transparency film instead of paper.
Use an overhead projector to enlarge your chosen coloring page against the plywood sheet. Sketch in the outlines of the page with a piece of charcoal or a carpenter's pencil.
Mix your desired colors. Red, yellow, blue, black and white can be mixed to make all other colors. Mix small amounts of the darker color into the lighter color to get the best results. Make a test swatch by painting a little of your mixed color onto a sheet of cardboard. Remember that colors dry darker than they look when wet.
Use a 6 inch or 4 inch laying in brush to paint the larger colored spaces on your plywood Christmas card. Smaller 2" trim brushes and detail brushes can be used once the largest amounts of color have been applied. Be sure to cross hatch when painting large areas, to ensure good coverage into all the cracks and crevices. Allow to dry for 24 hours between coats.
Attach a piece of 1" by 2" stock wood to the back side of your life sized Christmas card, about a foot from the top. Attach the piano hinge so that the pin edge is facing the top of the card and the open side is hanging down. Attach the 2' by 6' sheet of plywood to the piano hinge so that it makes a brace to stand the card up once it is dry, like the back of a giant picture frame.
Make as many of these as your yard can hold. Start a new tradition in your neighborhood!
Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.