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Making your own Christmas cards is a fantastic way to save money and make something meaningful. Vintage illustrations give a homey air to your Christmas cards, and you can add to them with glitter, ribbons, and other craft supplies to make them unique. Vintage cards are generally public domain, making them free and legal to use, so here are some of the top places to find them.
- Many libraries and galleries have a digital collection for public use without restrictions.
- Use public domain clip art and illustrations to embellish your designs.
- Users often upload their vintage collections on free media sites, so new work is constantly available.
- Use the highest quality download to ensure the best printing quality.
- You can print the cards as they are onto sturdy card stock or use an image program to design your cards, gift tags, and wrapping paper.
- Once you have printed your cards, use glitter glue, ribbons, and dried flowers to embellish them.
- Always ensure that the work is public domain or has no restrictions before use, especially if you plan to make items for resale.
- Sites such as Rawpixel and Pixabay have illustrations you can incorporate into your designs.
- Use apps like Canva, Photoshop, Gimp, and other graphic design software to recolor, alter and create patterns from your images.
Free Vintage Christmas Cards & Images
Use legal public domain work for creating gift tags, Christmas cards, and wrapping paper as a great way to make your Christmas special. If the work is public domain, you don’t have to worry that you will run into trouble using these images. The huge range means you have loads of choices.
Vintage Christmas images and art can be spiritual, cute, and sometimes quite odd. You can take the images and use an app or photo program to add your text. I’ll give you some resources for free sites where you can design your cards using public domain images.
1. NYPL Digital Collection
The New York Public Library has curated and uploaded a massive online collection of digital public domain content. By checking out their available resources using ‘Christmas’ as a search term, you will find loads of seasonal greeting cards and art that you can use free of charge.
Download and print images onto quality card stock to make your own Christmas cards, or use the images to make a repeated motif for gift wrap. There are no restrictions on using most of these images, and I recommend printing them at their full original resolution for best results.
2. Public Domain Pictures
Public Domain Pictures hosts stock photos and images that have fallen into the public domain. Users upload these images, and while smaller files are free to download, you will have to pay a small amount to download a premium full-sized image.
Small vintage images will be perfect for scrapbooking and making gift tags, but you may want to pay for the higher-quality images if you plan on making Christmas cards. Premium membership costs only a few dollars to download 100 images, so this may be an option if you see a Christmas card you love.
3. The Graphics Fairy
The Graphics Fairy is a resource site for crafters with a massive range of graphics and illustrations for your crafting. Their terms say that all the content can be used on work you make for yourself or for resale, but there are some limitations, so check their Terms and Copyright page.
They have helpfully categorized their over 700 Christmas images by theme, so whether you’re looking for angel pictures, nativity scenes, or 1950s retro, you will find it all without a problem. You have loads of images to choose from with photos, illustrations, and ephemera.
Rawpixel is a design resource that hosts art, PNG elements, fonts, and both premium and public domain work. While you will need to pay for premium images, you can find public domain vintage Christmas images in their archive.
You’ll need a membership to download the images, but you can select the free membership tier if you only want to use their public domain images. Sign-up is simple – a name and email address are all you need. Once you enter the code they email you; you can download vintage Christmas images.
Pixabay allows you to search for downloadable photos, vector graphics, illustrations, videos, and music. The Pixabay design community has uploaded all their stock, which is free to use.
You need to sign up to download, but registration costs nothing and allows you access to all their high-quality images and media. They currently have 733 free Vintage Christmas images, including backgrounds, banners, borders, and cards.
Flickr is a well-known photo upload site, but some collections are available free to download. By searching for ‘vintage Christmas cards,’ you can narrow down the selection for work that has been uploaded. Download images in their original size to ensure they print in high quality.
Click on settings on the upper right-hand side, then on the left, under license restrictions, select either ‘All Creative Commons’ or ‘No known copyright restrictions,’ which should bring up a selection of works in the public domain.
7. Public Domain Vectors
If you’re looking for vintage Christmas clipart and vectors to add to your designs, Public Domain Vectors has a range of black and white line art that you can download and use. While the range is more limited, you can find some surprising images that you can repurpose.
By searching for ‘vintage Christmas,’ you will find several pages of vector illustrations, though you will still need to go through these for suitably vintage images. I found some useful Christmas greeting banners and wreaths to use for updating my cards.
8. A Modern Homestead
A Modern Homestead blog has six free vintage Christmas printables to make cute gift tags to use. The Modern Homesteader blog is about a return to thrifty ideas, and they use brown paper to wrap gifts, with butcher’s twine and stamps to create gifts straight from Santa’s workshop.
You can do similar and print out their vintage gift tags to add a bright touch to these ‘elf-inspected’ gifts. Their free ‘vintage Christmas stamps‘ are available at the end of their gift wrap post, which walks you through the project step-by-step.
9. Vintage Country Style
Vintage Country Style is a great resource for crafts, shopping, and free downloads if you’re looking for vintage style ideas and where to buy the look you crave.
They have a free die-cut Vintage Christmas Image Pack for download. All you will have to do is right-click and save the image you want to use. These charming Christmas scenes feature children caroling, sleighing, and enjoying the snow – perfect to use in cards and gift tags.
10. American Greetings
With loads of Christmas printables and decoration ideas, American Greetings is a fabulous resource for decorating and planning your Christmas. You can download a small collection of vintage Christmas Cards from their blog.
Each image only needs to be right-clicked and saved before you use it to print yourself a range of adorable and beautiful cards and tags. My favorite is the vintage bonsai Christmas tree image, which is both charming and different.
11. Atomic Redhead
Every year, Atomic Redhead posts their vintage Christmas card and postcard collection, and they have a range of excellent cards available in each of its Annual Vintage Christmas Card posts. Especially fun and different are their Vintage California Christmas cards.
This Californian blogger has loads of information on amusement parks and places to explore and gives tips, guides and reviews. They decorated their home in classic 1954 retro style and chose their vintage cards to match.
Justin and Casy are two DIY enthusiasts obsessed with remodeling projects, and their Remodelaholic blog is full of DIY ideas you can use as inspiration for your home projects. While they list loads of upcycling and decor projects, they also have many crafting ideas.
A post with links to their favorite vintage Christmas card designs is among their curated printables collection. They also share many clever ideas for using the free printables in Christmas craft projects around the home, from ornaments and banners to canvas and wooden blocks.
13. House of Hawthornes
Looking for more old-fashioned Christmas cards – then DIY and crafts project blogger House of Hawthornes has some downloadables for you. They have a small collection of vintage Christmas cards you can download and print.
I love animal-themed cards the best, so my favorites are the sledding dogs and the kittens with a pipe-smoking cat.
14. Wikimedia Commons
A massive collection of public domain media, Wikimedia Commons collections range from illustrations, photos, videos, and reference files. A search for ‘Christmas Cards‘ brings up several images not found on other Public Domain sites.
The images are not curated, so you must search for suitable cards. Before downloading any image, set the rights to ‘no restrictions’ to ensure you have the right to use the images in your projects.
15. Wings of Whimsy
Wings of Whimsy has loads of printables for craft projects, but I loved this vintage Christmas gift tag with a robin. They have set it up so that you only have to download and print the tag collections, then cut the tags out—no need to worry about resizing the images to use.
Their blog is well worth a scroll as they have loads of project ideas and links to free digital vintage ephemera to download.
16. Antique Images
Another blog jam-packed with wonderful antique and vintage illustrations, Antique Images is full of images you can use for scrapbooking, crafting, and card making.
They have many free Christmas downloads, from Christmas greeting cards to gift tags, decorations, wallpaper, and labels. Look through the works tagged ‘Christmas‘ to find all kinds of downloadable vintage designs for your Christmas crafts.
How Do I Design Christmas Cards with Public Domain Images?
While some of the designs you download will be perfect to use as is, you may want to get creative and use the public domain images to create special, unique cards or tags. I am a massive fan of using Canva to create printable designs.
Upload your images, and use their templates and fonts to design the cards to suit. They have premade designs available, but you can use a blank template to add your images. I like using the postcard setting to create Christmas postcards.
Add text banners to your image to personalize your Christmas greetings.
How Do I Make Free Seamless Christmas Gift Wrap?
You can make your own seamless, repeating design to use as gift wrap with your Christmas images. Again, Canva is an excellent free tool that you can use to do this.
Printables and Inspirations have a simple step-by-step tutorial showing how to make a repeating pattern with a single image using Canva. Canva has snapping guides that will make it easy for you to place your images to create a seamless pattern correctly.
You can make your unique Christmas gift wrap by following this project with one of the free Christmas images you have downloaded.
As you practice, you’ll become more comfortable with the pattern technique, and you can create more complicated images. Print your Christmas wrapping paper at home for small gifts, or head to a print shop to print larger wrapping paper rolls.
How Do I Decorate Free Vintage Christmas Cards?
Once you’ve printed your free public domain designs onto suitable card stock, you can make them even better with added touches.
Use colored glitter to make parts of your card stand out, or add sparkling lines with glitter glue. This technique can be particularly effective on baubles, to outline stars or candy canes.
Use rubber craft stamps to ink designs over your cards, stamp Christmas Greetings on the inside, and add ribbon or felt.
You can cut the edges of your cards with pinking shears or other craft scissors to create a zigzag or scalloped edge.
By printing several of the same designs, you can cut and glue to create cards with a 3-d effect using decoupage.