OK, it’s Dec. 1 and the big day is just over three weeks away. Christmas is hardly a slam-dunk for me, but there is one narrow little area where I have a real contribution to make on Santa’s behalf: sports cards as stocking stuffers.
This is something I’ve written about in SCD columns before, but it bears a reminder every year because it’s a cool way to provide youngsters with something fun at Christmas with minimal expense.
All you need is the stuff shown in the photo here: sports cards, Saran Wrap and an iron. I am not a shill for a particular plastic wrap, but the one pictured – Saran Wrap Original – worked best over many years of experimenting. It’s tough to find around my area, with most stores carrying something called Saran Wrap Premium, which ironically isn’t as good as the Original, in my opinion.
The gum, by the way, is optional, and should be included only when you can be certain the enclosed pieces are fresh and still enclosed in the wrapper from Topps. We’ve used them because we get samples of cards here at SCD and the gum doesn’t get chewed with the same efficiency that it might have years ago.
As you can see, the iron in the photo is almost an antique, having been used for packaging and sealing baseball cards for nearly 30 years ... and nothing else. It takes some tinkering to find the correct heat setting, but once you do it should be smooth sailing, er, sealing.
I came up with this system when I was producing the O’Connell & Son Ink Baseball Greats way back when. The idea is you take a piece of Saran Wrap, roughly 8-by-10 inches, and plant a stack of anywhere from 35-100 cards smack dab in the middle of it, face down.
Then you simply wrap from there, starting with the vertical and then overlapping the two end pieces across the back of the bottom card (shown). You then take the iron and “seal” the whole deal, with most of it applied to the back area where the flaps meet, but also on all of the sides and even the top, because that makes for a nice tight seal. If you include gum – with the caveats noted above – it probably works best sticking it right in the middle of the cards, rather than on the back.
Since I don’t bake cookies, the cards are a nice way I can participate in holiday preparations without feeling completely useless. It’s also a great way to put leftover cards to use, though I always urge that as many stars be included as feasible.
Counting the literally thousands of packs we donated to the KidStore program we used to run with our SportsFest show, I would guess that over the last 15 years I’ve made 3,000 or 4,000 packs, though I concede we have a leg up here at SCD in having access to leftover cards that perhaps few would enjoy. But whatever you’ve got, I promise you they will be a hit when a youngster tears through his stocking on Christmas morning.
And if, by chance, you happen to have an eccentric uncle in his late 50’s – and what family doesn’t have at least one of those? – you can even make him up one with some 1959 Topps commons and maybe even a wildly off-center star or two.