There's a long running joke in my friend group about me showing up to a special occasion with a store-bought card.  This is pretty bad considering I've been involved with the family business of Ecstasy Crafts since I was running around the warehouse as a toddler.

But we all know that card-making and crafting takes time and dedication. We have to find the time in our busy lives to set aside for creativity. Something, I admit, don't do enough of.

So for my fiancée's birthday this year I promised myself I would make a card. I recently proposed to her, a week before her birthday, in fact (saved myself a gift) and I wanted to incorporate that moment into the card. The beach volleyball court at her family's orchard means a lot to us. Every summer we organize a beach volleyball league and help host a big tournament with friends. Amelia and I first bonded while playing beach volleyball on this court almost a decade ago. It's also the place where I asked her to marry me.

The setup

I had a rough idea about how to design the card. I wanted a simple design, bright colours that popped and something to do with volleyball. Of course, it was a birthday card, so it needed some presents and balloons.

For the volleyball net, I improvised a little and modified the Joy! Crafts Billie's background die. All I had to do was trim off the outer edges to make a proper rectangle.

Next up I had to figure out the balloons and actually make the card look somewhat birthday-themed. I just searched "balloons" on the Ecstasy Crafts website and the Dendennis Party Accessories die set caught my eye.

This has got to be one of the most underrated die sets we have. Balloons, cake, candles, presents, banners and streamers - now that's bang for your buck! I really like the style that these dies present, they are very simple and go well with bright colours. The simple shapes mean that they are extremely versatile as well. I used the circle for the volleyball on my card.

The finished product.

I added the Happy Birthday stamp using the LeCrea Stamping Tool. I really like this Happy Birthday stamp and I felt it meshed well with the vibe of the card. Stamping adds that extra little bit of je ne sais quoi and classes up the card nicely. Oh, and it helps that it's dead easy, but makes it look semi-professional.

Lastly, I grabbed the thickest foam tabs I could find and slapped the volleyball front and center. This creates an obvious focal point that leaps off the card.

I was going to add a banner to the top of the card, but thought better of it. Sometimes less is more, and I was afraid of the card getting too cluttered. I like the simplicity and cleanliness of this card and didn't want to take away from that.

I had a lot of fun making this card. I'm not a huge crafter, but I can see how people can get obsessed with it. Our resident pro-crafter, Kat, helped me a lot with brainstorming and showing me how to do the stamping. It's nice to get the creative juices flowing... I think Amelia liked it?

Cheers! - The view from across the volleyball courts

Stay tuned for more cards, instructions and tips & tricks. Let me know in the comments what type of card you want to see next. If you're lucky, I may make it for your next birthday!