Sunday, January 14

Tutorial: Decoder Cards

When I was a kid, cereal boxes would sometimes come with a hidden message or secret code on the back. All you need do was fish around amongst the cornflakes to find the "magic" glasses that would reveal all! Today I want to show you a technique that's basically the same idea... and just as much fun!

1. We'll start by creating the decoder window. You'll need a scrap of card stock that's about 21/2" x 5", a little bigger if you want a really large decoder window. Fold the card stock in half.

2. Use a punch or die to cut circles through both layers of card stock. Make sure you have at least a 1/2" border around the cut.

3. Using a larger circle punch or die (mine is 13/4"), line up the smaller hole so that it's in the very centre of the punch. HINT: Flip the punch over so that you can see where you're cutting.

4. Punch the card stock so that you now have two rings.

5. Use some glue or strong tape to sandwich a small piece of red or dark pink cellophane between the two rings. Trim the excess cellophane. 

6. I added an eyelet to the edge of my decoder window and to the top right hand corner of my card blank. I plan to attach the decoder window with a piece of twine.

7. You can decorate the card blank however you like, remembering to plan for a "secret message" somewhere in your design. I started by stamping the main image in the bottom left hand corner so I can add three hidden messages around him.

8. Use the smallest circle punch or die to create a template. You want your secret messages to be the same size or smaller than this window.

9. Using the template, draw a circle or circles in the position you want your secret message to be.

10. Stamp or write the secret message in light blue or green ink - the colour is important as it will show up once the decoder window is placed over the top. I used Tumbled Glass distress ink.

11. I want a garden theme for the front of my card, so I'm going to draw in some petals and leaves to create large, quirky flowers. You can use stamps, stickers or just leave them plain.

12. Using a red pen or red ink and a stamp, add a pattern over the top of each secret message making sure to completely cover them. It doesn't matter what sort of pattern you add, even doodling or scribbling will work.

13. Now finish your card with colours, stamps, embellishments, etc. The secret message will appear once the decoder window is held over the top. The red cellophane cancels out the red stamping or doodling to reveal the blue ink!

14. Finish by attaching the decoder window to your card with a piece of twine or ribbon, but make sure it's long enough to reach the farthest message. 

Aren't these fabulous?! I know a couple of little boys who are just going to love receiving birthday cards with hidden messages. In fact, I know a few "big" boys and girls who would enjoy this too!

Photographs and written instructions are copyright Beccy Muir.
All rights reserved.


  1. What a great idea! I know an 8 year old who would LOVE a card like this. That’s his ninth birthday card sorted! Thanks for the tutorial. xx

  2. Very clever - love it, thanks for the tutorial.

  3. Wow, I never would have thought to do that. This is such a fabulous way to embellish a card

  4. Hi Beccy, a super fun idea for an interactive card, I remember those glasses in the Rice Bubble boxes! Have a fabulous weekend.. Megan

  5. Fabulous tut Beccy, another to try. Love that stamp set too..x [aNNie]

  6. What a great idea!! Not seen this before and love it!

  7. Fun! Thank you for the tutorial!

  8. Oh wow Beccy that is so clever. Thank you for sharing. Take care. Hugs Jackie

  9. Funnest idea EVER! I can think of so many kiddos that will love getting a card with a decoder. Thanks for the great tutorial, Beccy.

  10. So clever, thanks for the tutorial, I can't wait to give it a go.