Make a New Year’s Spinner Card

I like to make spinner cards, and I find that people like receiving them. They are so fun and game-like.

I thought I’d show you how I made a New Year’s card for a select few friends. It’s a remake of one I made four years ago during another election cycle.

political spinner 2012
The last nightmare.

"Happy" New Year!


I’d thought back then that things couldn’t get any worse. Never say never!

First, I start in Adobe Illustrator. It has a handy polar grid tool that is perfect for making spinner templates. It is found nested under the Line Segment Tool.

Polar Grid Icon

If you double-click on the Polar Grid Tool Icon in the tool bar, it will bring up a dialogue box. For this purpose, 2 concentric dividers and 8 radial dividers are just about right. I skew the concentric divider so that it’s close to the center:

Polar Grid Box

I actually hadn’t put in those measurements on top: 6.66 inches. I just noticed them as I was taking the screenshot. Very interesting . . .

At any rate, once you have your parameters set, draw your template:

Spinner Template


You could, of course, continue to work in Illustrator. But I’m going to be doing the rest with photos and I’m more comfortable in Photoshop. So I close the file in Illustrator and re-open it in Photoshop as a Photoshop file. You also, of course, could just draw it by hand if you don’t use Illustrator.

With your template open in Photoshop, select one of the sections with the magic wand tool and create a new layer.


Then you can find a picture of something you’d like to put in the section. It might be something nice… or it might be something disturbing, as in my example. You can combine images too, of course:

layer one


Keep adding images, working in a new layer for each section. If things overlap, select inside the shape of the section you’re working on, then select inverse and delete to neaten things up. When you are done, you should have a wheel filled with pictures:

2016... UGH!


As you can see, I got rid of the lines in the middle and filled it in with white. This also has a bigger circle in the middle than our original example, because I made it earlier using a different template.

You could then cut it out and glue it to your card. Or you could create a document in your layout program of choice and insert it. I use InDesign.

I created a new InDesign document with three joined pages of equal size. This is going to be a rather small card, since the arrows I will be attaching are small, and I also want to print it out on my wide-format printer, which can handle a page that is up to 13″ wide. Three pages that are 4″ across will fit nicely, so I made each joined page 4″ wide and 6″ long.

I placed the image on the page to the left, and added some text on the page to the right. The middle was left blank. You’ll soon see why.

card layout


I then created a PDF of the document, being sure that it was saved as “spreads” with all of the correct pages lined up together and the pages at 100% scale. It is also helpful to make sure that the crop marks will be included.

PDF of card

I printed it out on matte card stock. I then scored at the appropriate markings and trimmed along the outside, following the crop marks. I then made a mountain fold at the first score line, and a valley fold at the second.

card folded

I then made a hole in the center of the spinner, at the dot in the middle. It should be just big enough to fit a tiny brad. To keep the arrow from scraping on the card, I sandwich a little nylon washer between the arrow and the card.

Spinner parts


To help the arrow spin more freely, I find it helps to stick something thin like a metal spatula underneath each prong as you press down on top of it with a bone folder.

Using spatula

When it was all assembled, I folded in the mountain fold and sealed the card up around the inside edges. You can use glue or double-sided tape. Now you see why the middle page was left blank — when fully assembled, it hides the back of the spinner.

Card Folded Over

Now it’s done! Although… come to think of it, this is so grim I think I’ll lose friends if I actually mail it to anyone.

Spinner Card Front

"Happy" New Year!

Happy New Year! And best of luck in 2016!

16 thoughts on “Make a New Year’s Spinner Card”

  1. Thanks for the the tutorial! The content wants me to put my head in a hole and come back out in four years…ugh. At least there are fabulous people like you who help me to remember that a sense of humor helps :)

    • Grim, isn’t it?! Always good to hear from you, Amy. I hope you have a wonderful 2016… although it might be a good idea to avoid most media until after November… I say, as I clutch my head in pain. ;-)

  2. About things getting worse…and we thought Romney was bad!
    Happy New Year dear friend. Send me an email sometime soon, I’d love to hear from you. Hope things are going okay for you and Victor. xo

    • No kidding, eh? I remember talking to an elderly friend last time around, and he was saying those were the most frightening, crazy politicians he’d seen in his life. He’s since passed away. I can only imagine what he’d be thinking now!

      A very happy New Year to you too! Let’s be in touch soon!

  3. Thank you. When I was younger we made these using a compass and a sharp blade! And my father always had odds n ends in his workshop.
    Here’s to happier, healthier year. Cheers!

  4. Wow.
    You made it sound simple, but I am pretty certain it isn’t. At all.
    And the subject? Halloween is perhaps more appropriate…
    Love the end result though.
    Heres to a better year. A much, much better year.

  5. Must admit I’m pleased we’re not faced with your particular political choices; but our own are bad enough. Great tutorial thanks!

  6. I love, love, LOVE that card. You are so talented. If I knew you in person, I’m sure I’d hate you for all the darling things you make. Well, okay, I’d pretend to like you but secretly loathe you.

    No, that’s not true.

    Yikes. Is it? [working through some complex emotions here…]

    Thanks for the free therapy and the laugh!

    Happy new year!

    • Cranky! I’ve missed you! So good to see you again. (And sorry it’s taken me a while to reply. I’ve probably been following the news too much. It has made me want to crawl into a hole…).

  7. Brilliant Ellen. Very detailed. I don’t have InDesign at the moment but may get it if I have a particular project. Where did hou get the little metal arrow? It looks very nice. Hope you are well. All the best, Angela

    • Angela! So nice to hear from you. Thanks. I love InDesign — it’s one of those things I think I’d panic if I suddenly didn’t have it. The little arrows came from Alpha Stamps. (Although I looked, and it seems their international shipping rates are rather high, alas. Maybe you have an equivalent over there?) For larger arrows, I also sometimes use clock hands, or there are also big plastic ones that snap together and are meant for classroom games (they are available in a few places — you can try searching for “game spinner arrows” or “plastic spinner arrows”).

      • Thanks for looking in to this. I could probably get one Etsy. For some reason all the UK ones seem to be plastic. Sounds like you’ve made a few :-) It might by nice to incorporate it into a book. Have you ever done this?


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