Holiday-Card Tips from a Holiday-Card Overachiever

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, which means it’s time to mail off my holiday cards. You think it’s crazy that my cards are ready before December? Ha! I fall behind on a lot of things (cleaning, organizing) but when it comes to holiday cards, I am on it. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years. 

* Get a competent friend to take the family photo outdoors. Once I did hire a professional photographer; amazing, just not sure if was worth the huge cash outlay. What has consistently been cheapest and easiest is a fast photo session in the front or the back of the house, with my cousin or niece doing the snapping. Instruct your amateur photographer to get up close, put your heads close together, and check the results before calling it quits. Ideal conditions are a bright but cloudy sky so there’s no shadows. And pay attention to the background, you want a solid wall or a hedge or a hill or other background that doesn’t call attention to itself.

* Make your cards online. I love Minted because of their insanely great cardstock quality and attention to detail. But this year I used Shutterfly because that site emails crazy-good offers on a regular basis. There was actually one for 40 percent off the price of holiday cards! (And FYI, Shutterfly gobbled up Tiny Prints, so they are part of the same group.) This year I created two cards, one with a ton of photos from the entire year, and one with just a single new family photo. And I ordered one of each. Then I had my husband and kids vote for their favorite. One-photo won unanimously!

* Don’t feel constrained by the sample cards you see. I chose a design that, in the online model, has a last name written across the bottom. But it’s easy enough to change something like that to be a message instead. Also remember that when you pull in your photos, you can edit them…for instance, go tighter so you can see everyone clearly.

* On the other hand, use the online sites for good ideas. I met with a woman from Peartree Greetings who told me that people literally restage photos they see on that site with their own family. At first I thought “That’s weird!” but then I thought, “Or maybe pretty smart…” In fact, I’m tempted to rip off this family-on-their-bellies card that is so freakin’ cute. Maybe next year!

 * Spring for return-address labels. Because writing all your recipients’ adddresses is time-consuming enough. But here’s what I won’t pay extra for: A site to mail my photos for me (if I have to type in all those addresses, what time am I saving?), fancy envelopes (really, who cares?) and express service (because standard service comes faster than they say, usually, and seriously, if the cards don’t get out until 2014, it will be okay).

* Make notes for yourself for next year. I write down how many cards I ultimately send because I know that in October of next year my mind will have erased that information. 

Lastly, I do make the extra trip to stand in line at the post office for holiday stamps. I don’t know, they just make me happy. If a craftier approach is more your style, check out our cards and tags you can make. Enjoy spreading cheer, and happy holidays to you!

Stamped Snowman Card
Stamped Snowman Card
Stamped Snowman Card

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