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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....

How to Use Your Mac to Facilitate an Old Fashioned Holiday
November 18th, 1998

Do you think that is a contradiction in terms? It isn't. The special abilities of the Mac to produce graphic based products lends itself to all kinds of holiday items that you can produce much cheaper than you can buy, and at the same time make them unique and personal. Our editor said no, no, no! No holiday columns until after Thanksgiving. However, since he also said he doesn't shop until the last minute we can ignore him. [Editor's Note To Self: Find the time to chastise Nancy about this one] All of these suggestions take time and you may want to get started now.

Holiday Cards-It is easy to make your own holiday cards. You can make them for pennies each up to about a dollar each, depending on how you want to do it. You can purchase special software that makes it easy, but you also can do it using your basic ClarisWorks. For this column I am going to discuss the very basics using Claris Works 5.0. You can choose to make cards using regular 8-1/2 x 11 paper in white or in color and buying matching envelopes. The finished product will most likely be folded into quarters and use 4-3/8 x 5-3/5 envelopes that can be purchased at most office supply stores. You can purchase special card stock that is now available in stores. Avery makes a wide selection and I purchased 15 cards and matching envelopes for about $10. You can get half fold sheets, quarter fold sheets, and photo frame cards. All are made for use with printers and you should choose either ink jet or laser as appropriate. These cards are scored so that they fold neatly. To make a card using Claris Works 5.0 you can go to your assistant options and open cards. There are several pre-designed options available to you, which you can completely redo with a click of the mouse. You can use the Claris Works library to add icons or designs. You can use commercial icons or download free ones from the net. You can use any scanned photo or draw your own designs. Words are added using the text option. How you choose to complete them is up to you. If you don't have a color printer you can still produce a unique card. You might want to use a silhouette design or a black and white photo. The important thing is to experiment and figure out which way the printing and pictures need to face so that the cards can be read when folded. I used half fold cards with a glossy finish. After I designed the outside of my card I ran all the cards through to print the outside. Then I designed the inside, turned the card stock the appropriate direction and ran them all through the printer again to print the insides. Had I chosen to do so, I could have further personalized each card by adding notes, different signatures, etc. to the inside. You can also include a “hallmark” on the back of your card by turning the print the right direction. If your printer allows you to do so, you can then print all the envelopes to match your cards. If you make quarter fold cards you can print all the sides at the same time, but you have to work with them to make sure everything faces the appropriate direction.

Holiday Tags-When it comes to making holiday gift tags, the simplest thing in the world is to print tags on sheets of labels. They are then personalized, unique, and don't fall off packages. I made one set by covering all the background green and putting the information in white print. Another set has individual icons on a white background.

Holiday Gifts-For those stuck finding the perfect gift for someone, you can even use your Mac to make gifts. One of my favorites is personal cards that are similar to business cards. Once when we moved to a new state my then teenage daughter was worried about making friends. We went to a card shop and ordered personal cards with her name, phone number, etc. When she met new people she gave them her card and it did not take her long to become part of a group. ClarisWorks 5.0 has a guide for making business cards. The card stock for making such cards is available in numerous choices of design, color, and quality. The cards come 10 to a page and are perforated for easy disassemble after printing. You can get a package of the pages for as little as a few dollars or choose to spend closer to $20. It depends on what is available in your area. You can design cards with icons, photos, or information. A great addition to personal cards is to include the e-mail address, cell phone number, etc. I have given them, with great success, to an elderly mother who uses them as gift cards, a working mother who makes sure that the parents of her children's friends always know how to reach her, a teenager, and a youngster with a brand new computer and internet address.

Holiday Calendars-Another idea is to make personalized calendars. Using the calendar assistant in Claris Works 5.0 you can print a page for each month, include personal events such as birthdays, and mount them to cardboard with a good stapler. Any photo or specially designed sheet can be mounted above the calendar pages.

Family Trees-A few weeks ago I did a column on making family trees. It is still archived if anyone wants to reference it. You can make a cherished gift by printing pages that demonstrate your family tree. One way to give them is to print the pages on parchment paper and insert the pages into plastic sleeves for protection. You can then create a cover page appropriate to your family and mount the whole thing in a notebook or photo album.

Hot Chocolate-You can enhance other gifts. For instance an inexpensive but well received gift is homemade hot chocolate mix. Anyone can mix it up and package it in plastic sandwich bags. Have you seen the bags that are decorated for Christmas? If you are giving a Christmas gift they work great. You can include the mix in a small basket with a few other items, or package it with a couple of mugs. The recipe is at the end of the column. I don't personally like chocolate, but those who do tell me this mix is to die for. You must include directions for turning the mix into a drink and here is where your Mac comes in. You can design a card to include with your mix that tells the recipient how to mix it. Another option is to create designer jar lids caps to put on the top of canned products, or a jar of chocolate mix, or beans for bean soup, or your own homemade salsa . You can also create stick-on labels to put on the front of a jar simply by printing them up by the page after you have designed them.

Poppers-One last suggestion is to make your own Chinese poppers. They were around when I was a child and now they are available again. I have seen the empty containers in specialty stores and stationary stores. They consist of cylinders wrapped with decorative paper that is twisted at each end. You fill them with candy, small gifts, theater tickets, etc. and the recipient pulls on the twisted ends until the thing breaks open and whatever gifts are inside fall out. I think they would make great table favors for a holiday dinner or party. You could create your own poems, predictions for the future, seasons greetings, or word games to be included. Your Mac would allow you the flexibility of making such enclosures as decorative as you wish and there is a great shareware program called Word Search that is available in both a 68K and PPC version. The shareware cost is only $15 and with this program you can make puzzles with hidden words that your guests can find. (To find this program you can go to and check out a demo.)

I hope you have fun personalizing your own holidays and I would love to include ideas from readers. And, speaking of holidays, I am going to do a column early in December about gifts. What Mac related gifts are you hoping to receive this season and why? Please let me know.

Hot Chocolate Mix
1 - 8 ounce box of powdered milk
1 - 16 ounce jar of Coffee Mate
1 - 2 pound jar of Nestles Quick
1 - 2 pound package of powdered sugar
1 - teaspoon salt

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and portion out as desired.

Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup mix to one cup of boiling water. Stir and top with marshmallows.

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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