The truth is all these fabulous new designs can't help you create the perfect card if you don't start out with a good photo in the first place. But we can help! Here, five common card mistakes to avoid.
Photo flaws: You want to make sure that your picture is a quality shot. This means no red eye, blurriness, or shadows over your child's face.
Background overload: It's hard to focus on your kid in the photo when there's a TV on behind him or groceries scattered on the table next to him. Nothing can clutter up a good picture faster than a busy background. That's why it's important to pick a simple, solid backdrop.
Distance problems: Candid photos of your kids laughing and playing outside often make the best cards. Just make sure that you're not too far away from them. You don't want your child to be a tiny speck surrounded by scenery. On the other hand, you don't want to be too close either. Shots that are right up on her face don't offer any perspective and they are hard to work with when you're trying to crop them to fit the card's design.
Unnatural poses: Don't try to prop your baby up for a shot. If he's uncomfortable, it will come through in the photo. Putting him in a relaxed, natural position, like lying on a blanket, works best.
What's new: If you can't decide which adorable picture of your child to put on your card, then Shutterfly is for you -- it has a variety of chic cards that can hold up to nine photos. Another plus: You can pick modern borders and color schemes in brown or purple if you'd like a change from the traditional red-and-green theme.
Our fave: We love that these folded cards don't look cluttered or too busy even with multiple photos. For example, the front of your card can feature three different photos in separate boxes or ornaments.
Cost: Starts at $1.49 each.
What's new: One of the most innovative sites we've seen, PhotoWorks offers cool cards that come with a little something extra. One design has a "Naughty or Nice?" check box next to your child's photo on the cover; inside, you can write a short bio of him, his wish list, or something else.
Our fave: We went crazy for this neat card that has a photo ornament on the front. It actually detaches from the cover so you can hang the holiday picture on the tree.
Cost: Starts at $2.77 each.
What's new: If you're a fan of one-sided photo cards, Snapfish has revamped the same old format to give them more depth and style. You can now add multiple photos or even make a collage card. On top of that, the borders are much more appealing -- and the cards come in a vertical or horizontal format. Bottom line: Flat photo cards aren't so flat anymore.
Our fave: Like the other sites, Snapfish also has new folding-card designs. The quality is really good, and you can play around with the layout to put the photos in a circular pattern or add multiple shots.
Cost: Starts at $1.99 each.
What's new: It's all about Martha Stewart at Kodak this year. The domestic diva puts her touch on some clean, classic holiday designs that look way more expensive than they are. She also gets a little funky: Check out the accordion-style cards that hold several photos. But you'll find more than Martha here; Kodak has its own great line of original templates and designs.
Our fave: Martha's accordion cards are a great idea. But we also like the Kodak designs that put the photos on the inside instead of on the cover -- which makes the card look a little more upscale.
Cost: Starts at $1.49 each; the accordion style starts at $2.85 each.
Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the December 2007 issue of Parents magazine.