Candy Canes and Gum Drops Gift Tags and Ornaments by Cindy Mann Vitale

Margaret Riley

Candy Canes and Gum Drops Gift Tags and Ornaments

By Cindy Mann Vitale


While discussing the options for a Christmas design, gift tags came to mind. Even though I love painting on almost any surface, painting on watercolor paper is among one of my favorites. The technique is the same as painting on wood with the added benefit of no surface preparation required.


If I had to describe my feelings about art in one short sentence, it would be to say, “A lifetime obsession to create.” As a very small child, it all began with crayons. Through my years in school, I worked with pencil, charcoal, clay, and oils. As an adult, I continued with oils and experimented with watercolor. In the early 80’s, I happened across bottled acrylics and plunged into the decorative painting industry.

My two daughters, Rachel and Malia, were an invaluable help to me for many years when I began this journey in 1993. For the past sixteen years, my husband, Bob, has been a constant source of support. Now, my grandson and granddaughter are expressing an interest in being involved in this endeavor!



300 lb. cold press watercolor paper (or 140 lb.)

DecoArt Americana® Acrylic
Baby Pink DA031
Berry Red DA019
Cranberry Wine DA112
Grape Juice DA 236
Grey Sky DA111
Hauser Dark Green DA133
Lamp Black DA067
Leaf Green DA051
Pistachio Mint DA253
Purple Cow DA272
Snow White DA01
Spa Blue DA277

Teal Green DA107

Warm White DA 239


Americana® Acrylic Spray Sealer/Finisher Matte DAS13

Royal® and Langnickel ™ Brushes Aqualon Series
Rounds: Series 2250 Nos. 2, 4, 8

Liners: Series 2595 No.1

Miscellaneous Supplies:
Pencil (mechanical pencil is preference) and eraser
Transparent tape
Tracing paper
Transfer paper or graphite
Spatter tool or old toothbrush
Permanent Ink Zig Millennium Pen black ink .005
Scissors: small sharp point scissors to cut tight corners; larger pair for making longer straight cuts
Wire cutters
Small needle nose pliers
Ice pick or punch tool
Rusty wire - Two: 7” lengths to create a wire hanger for the tags
Red twine -
Two: 6” lengths for the gift tag insert
Eight: 4” lengths to assemble the back and front panels
Helpful Tips:

What may be the most important tip of all is to encourage you to accept the fact that perfection is not necessary. Whether you are a seasoned painter, or if this is your first effort, give yourself permission for mistakes and mishaps.

For the inking step, make short broken lines, which are easier and mistakes are not as apparent.


Click >>HERE<< to download the pattern.



Transfer the outlines of the backing panel, the ‘To/From’ gift tag insert, and front panels. Paint on the design details before cutting out the shapes from the larger sheet of paper.

Transferring the Design:

Back Panel and the ‘To/From’ Gift Tag Insert

Transfer the polka dot design at the top of the backing.

Transfer the stripes at the top of the ‘To/From’ gift tag insert.

Gum Drops

Transfer the three gum drops. Do not transfer the snowflakes.

Candy Canes

Transfer the candy canes including the stripes. Do not transfer the highlights, the pine needle greenery, or the berries.


      Photo 2                                                 Photo 3


      Photo 4                                                 Photo 5



Backing Panel:

Paint in the polka dots with Baby Pink. Shade with Berry Red. Deepen to add contrast with a 50-50 mixture of Berry Red and Cranberry Wine.

Front Design Panels:
Background Shading:

Shade around transferred outlines of gum drops and candy canes with diluted Spa Blue leaving edges of panels white. Create a mixture of 75% Spa Blue and 25% Teal Green to deepen the area. (Refer to Photo 4.)

Green Gum Drop:

Base coat with a 50-50 mixture of Pistachio Mint and Warm White. Begin shading on right side of gum drop with diluted Leaf Green. Make a shading mixture of 75% Leaf Green and 25% Hauser Dark Green. Add a third layer of shading to add more contrast at bottom right corner.

Purple Gum Drop:

Base coat with a 50-50 mixture of Purple Cow and Warm White. Begin shading left side of gum drop with diluted Purple Cow. Make a mixture of 25% Purple Cow and 75% Grape Juice to add a third application of shading for more contrast at the bottom of the left corner.

Red Gum Drop:

Base coat with a 50-50 mixture of Baby Pink and Warm White. Begin shading right side of gum drop with diluted Berry Red. Make a 50-50 mixture of Berry Red and Cranberry Wine to add a third application of shading for more contrast at bottom of right corner.

Final Touches for all Three Gum Drops:
Tap Snow White onto all of the gum drops using tip of a large round brush to highlight and give appearance of a sugared surface. Transfer or freehand snowflakes. Paint on with Snow White.

Candy Canes:

Base coat white areas with Warm White. Base coat red areas with Baby Pink.

Shade pink areas with diluted Berry Red. Float a little of diluted Berry Red shading mixture over white areas to soften. Shade with a third application to deepen pink areas by creating a 50-50 mixture of Berry Red and Cranberry Wine. Add a shiny highlight with diluted Snow White on left side of candy canes.

Transfer or freehand pine needle greenery. Using a liner brush, create shape of greenery by brushing on first layer of needles with diluted Leaf Green. Add in a few strokes of Hauser Dark Green and highlight with some additional needles of Pistachio Mint. When dry, transfer or freehand berries.

Using tip of a liner brush, paint on berries with Warm White. When dry, float diluted Baby Pink over berries to tint.

Dots in berries are added on later with pen.

To/From’ Gift Tag Insert:

Base coat black stripes with Grey Sky. Shade with diluted Lamp Black. Base coat white stripes with Warm White. Or, for a faster process, simply paint black stripes with Lamp Black, which will give a darker and more solid effect.

For an added tint, base coat bottom of tags with Warm White.

When dry, float on a very thin shading of Spa Blue.


Inking emphasizes design elements and is an easy way to add details that would be difficult with paint and brush. Since this design is painted on watercolor paper, as soon as all the painting steps have been completed, the project is ready for inking. See photos below for final effect of inking and spattering steps.

Outline all of the shapes with pen, add dots on berries, and emphasize pine needles with pen.



For this technique, use a spatter tool or an old toothbrush. If paint seems too thick, dilute very slightly with water.


Dip tip of toothbrush into edge of paint puddle and test on paper to see if consistency of the paint is correct before spattering surface. Spatter all surfaces with Snow White.



Cut out all shapes with scissors.

If an edge of paper gets bent, or there’s a slight marring of paint, simply press back in place and touch up paint again.

To/From’ Tag Insert:

Punch hole at top point, being sure to keep hole centered to avoid tearing edges of paper.

Run 6” length of red twine through hole and tie into a bow. Knot ends to avoid unraveling.

Front and Back Pocket Panels:

Holes must line up correctly. To avoid tearing, do not punch holes too closely to edge of paper.

Lay two panels together, line up edges, and press ice pick (or punch tool) down into paper.

Punch hole from front to back. The tip of ice pick (or punch tool) should go all the way through front panel and mark placement onto back panel.

Take panels apart and complete hole in back panel. Run the 4” lengths of red twine through holes, tie, and knot.


Since paper is so absorbent and cannot be washed or wiped off, spray a final finish with Americana® Acrylic Spray Sealer/Finisher Matte on all surfaces before assembly. Follow manufacturer’s instructions on can.


Final Assembly:

Create hanger by running 7” length of rusty wire through holes in back panel going from back to front. Allow approximately 1-1/2” on each end to coil. Bend coiled ends up and press together to keep hanger in place.

Create an arched shape at the top of hanger.

Fill out ‘To/From’ Gift Tag insert as desired and slide into pocket.


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  • Ruth Green on

    Really cute. I am going to try this! Thanks for sharing!

  • JOYCE on

    oh so cute!!! Thank you

  • Margaret Riley on

    Many ask where the pattern is when they download or print out the instructions and photos. Please read through the instructions to “find” your pattern.

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