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Trading Card Ideas

Make Your Own Trading Cards

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Trading cards aren't just for sports figures. Anyone or anything can be on a trading card. They make great gifts but your can also use the trading card format for other purposes too. Check your desktop publishing software for trading card templates or create your own. You can even purchase specialty papers specifically for trading cards. Trading cards can take the place of greeting cards and a collection of them creates a photo album or scrapbook of memories.

Trade some of these ideas.

Trading Card Size and Format

Baseball Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki
Baseball Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki

Standard size for a trading card is 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches. You could make them any size you want, but if you use a standard size then you can purchase and use standard trading card pocket pages for your cards. Trading cards can be portrait or landscape orientation. Typically, the front side of the trading card is a photo of the person (or thing) that is the subject of the card. You can also use drawings or other artwork. The back of the trading card contains vital statistics. For non-sports cards this could be information such as the name of the subject, birthday, time and location of the photo, lists of hobbies or interests, favorite quotes, or detailed description of the event or object depicted.

Trading Card Display and Storage

Trading Cards in Pocket Page - Creative Commons License me and the sysop
Trading Cards in Pocket Page - Creative Commons License me and the sysop

Create your own trading card scrapbook or photo album using pocket pages. They come in many sizes and hold 4 to 9 standard size trading cards. It's a great alternative for those who don't feel crafty enough to do traditional scrapbooks. Put the pages in a binder for safekeeping. You can also purchase boxes sized for trading cards or get acrylic holders that will display your card like a photo but still allow you to easily see the stats on back.

Family Trading Cards

Batman Movie Trading Card - Creative Common License Thomas Duchnicki
Batman Movie Trading Card - Creative Common License Thomas Duchnicki

As a holiday or special occasion gift to friends and family, create sets of trading cards -- one card per family member. On the back of the card include a personalized message from each family member. Make it an annual event and be sure to keep a set of cards for yourself to create a family album. 

Birth and Milestone Trading Cards

Trading Card - Creative Commons License Lainey's Repertoire
Trading Card - Creative Commons License Lainey's Repertoire

From birth announcement to college graduation, share a child's life with family and friends by creating a new trading card for each birthday, graduation, summer vacation, and other momentous occasions. Send out cards over the years but keep a complete set and give them to the child at some appropriate time in the future. 

Couples Trading Cards

Twilight Movie Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki
Twilight Movie Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki

Similar to gift coupons ("good for one backrub"), make up a set of trading cards for couples to trade with each other from time to time. Spend time embellishing the cards with sentimental quotes, love poems, and drawings. Each card can represent an activity (foot massage, breakfast in bed, midnight trip to the corner store, movie night), or just contain a favorite memory or a sentiment you want to share at that moment. Give a boxed set (one for you, one for your partner) for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, or any other special time. 

Family Pets Trading Cards

Dog Trading Card Front & Back - Creative Commons License grantlairdjr
Dog Trading Card Front & Back - Creative Commons License grantlairdjr

Create a special memory book for past, present, and future pets. On the back of the cards include the pet's name (including how the animal got its name), birthday, lineage or other information about your pet, and perhaps a funny or favorite story about that pet.

Club or Organization Trading Cards

Trading Cards - Creative Commons License Rail Life
Trading Cards - Creative Commons License Rail Life

Do you belong to a book club, sewing circle, running club, or other group? Make trading cards for the members. Vital stats for the back of the trading card could including books read or a list of favorite authors, awards won or races run that year. In addition to or instead of individual portraits the front could be group photos, a collage of images, photos from club events, completed projects, or other objects representative of the club or a specific member. Create a trading card album for the club and create sets of cards to give to all members.

Valuables and Collections Trading Cards

Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki
Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki

Make trading cards of your valuables or pieces that you collect such as books, artwork, or collectible toys. The cards could be for personal use, for insurance purposes, or for showing to potential buyers. On the back of the trading card list the date and place acquired, cost, appraisal value, detailed description, storage location, and any special notes including sentimental attachments. 

Artist Trading Cards

Artist Trading Cards based on computer-generated artwork
ATC & Photo © Jacci Howard Bear

The same size as traditional trading cards (2.5 x 3.5), artists trading cards (ATC) are an artform designed specifically for trading. The trading cards you create as gifts could be your own form of ATC -- use your own photos or other artwork and embellish however you see fit. An ATC is often handmade using traditional art supplies but it can also be done on the computer -- or a combination. Some ATCs do not fit neatly into standard pocket pages (due to thickness/embellishments) but can be stored in decorative boxes or put on display on shelves or in shadow boxes.

Visual To Do List Trading Cards

Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki
Trading Card - Creative Commons License Thomas Duchnicki

Snap pictures a pile of dirty dishes or dirty clothes, the mop, the screendoor that needs repair, the lawnmower, the family car with "Wash Me" etched in the dust. Put them on a trading card. On the back of the cards include details such as washer settings for clothes, location of cleaning supplies, how much time a task should take, etc. Color code the cards based on age -- mowing the lawn might not be an age-appropriate task for a 5 year old but they can help with dusting or watering the plants. Make a game of drawing cards, trading cards, and, of course, accomplishing the task on the card. Once a job is complete, return the card to its pocket page or other storage place until next time. 

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