Enter the real world, a job, some babies, and enough moves to give us Christmas card recipients in most of the lower 48 and my handcrafting days are over.
But digital photography and online card options have vastly improved since my school days—and I figure the extended fam would rather see pics of my kids than a hand-painted manger scene–so I’ve come to appreciate the photo card.
And, with some strategery, I’ve found it possible to say Mele Kalikimaka via mail without stress or breaking the bank.
Stress-Free and Budget-Friendly Christmas Cards
As in, buy your stamps and get your family pics done in October. Or September. This both avoids the holiday rush and spreads out the dent in the budget.
I realize it’s now early November. So just bookmark that thought for next year, ‘kay?
Keep Family Pics Simple
If you want photo cards but hiring a professional photographer isn’t in the budget, ask a photo-literate friend to snap a few. We’ve done this most years and have always been pleased with the results.
Do you enjoy thick cardstock and great graphics? Or are you content with a nice pic on photo paper?
Do you have a long list of recipients or do you mostly just send to family and close friends? Is high-quality photography important or will you forgo a picture this year?
Make a Budget
Prioritizing helps with the budget; if you’re not picky about trimmings, you can afford to send more cards. If you prefer heavyweight stationary and great design, you’ll probably need to shorten your list.
Incidentally, this year I (belatedly) realized that 5”x5” cards/envelopes require extra postage. Sigh.
Consider List Length
Would I love to send cards to tons of people? Yes. Would Hubs fall over at the bill for that? Yes.
And frankly, because I’m a closet stationary snob and want the pretty cards, I can’t afford/justify the cost of sending a ton either. So, my own rule is that I don’t send cards to local friends–who know what my kids look like and to whom I can say Merry Christmas in person.
Maybe when I let go of my stationary standards and go back to photo paper, you’ll get a card. ‘Tis the season for such priorities, right?
Send ‘Em Early
Like, right after Thanksgiving early. That way you’re done and have one less thing to worry about in the weeks before the holidays.
Too soon for your taste? Then just stamp and address them over Thanksgiving and send whenever you feel is best.
My Favorite Photo Card Sites
- Mpix: A great balance of affordability and selection. I got last year’s cards from Mpix and was really happy with them. Budget notes: Pick the smaller card size for a better price and sign up to receive coupons.
- Mixbook: This year’s choice because their promotions were better than Mpix’s. I loved their options. Budget notes: Beware the oddly-shaped, additional-postage-requiring cards.
- Shutterfly: My old standby, they often have 40% off sales. Budget notes: Photo paper cards can be a steal here, especially with coupons. Their stationary cards are not a steal.
Other Simple Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer
- Send a family photo printed on thicker paper as a postcard. Cheaper postage, no envelope needed.
- Write a short family newsletter on pretty paper and include a pic.
- Forgo paper altogether and send a card online via Paperless Post. They’ve got great designs and it’s more budget-friendly than paying postage.
Do you send cards for the holidays?
All cards via Mpix