Get Those Christmas Cards DONE!

If you’re like me, you probably have a long list of “to-dos” or at least “want-to-dos” for the holiday season.  Along with that, you want to be able to relax, enjoy your family and friends, and spend time reflecting on the real meaning of the holiday season. 
I’m going to help you here to get one big task crossed off your to-do list…and you can get this one DONE before December even starts. 
It’s those photo Christmas cards.  I love checking the mail in December.   Christmas cards make me so happy!  I’m sure you love them too.
Let’s get to the work.  I’m going to recommend you get your cards done in three short sessions.   In session one, you’ll choose the photo.  In session two, you’ll order your cards.  In session three, you’ll get them into the mail.  For each, I recommend you write the time on your calendar.  It shouldn’t take more than an hour each time (less if you’re good at making decisions).  Pick three days on the calendar and mark them “Christmas Cards!”

Session 1-Choose Your Photo

In my mind, there are three ways you can go with the Christmas card photo:

  1. A family portrait.  The fall is the time of year when many families go to the professional photographer. If you already got professional photos taken, yay for you!  Pick your favorite shot and you already have session one done!

For those of you (like me) who weren’t on top of family portraits this year, I recommend you move on to one of the other picture choices.  It’s really hard to take a full family shot with you in it(There’s nothing like attempting to look happy together to make everyone grumpy).  Your expectations will be high, people won’t cooperate…it’s just hard.  Move on…

  1. A photo of just the kids and or pets.  Lots of cards I receive will have a posed photo of just the kids in the family.  I love these.  If you already have a photo from the past year you like of your kiddos, use it!  (Maybe it’s from Halloween, the first day of school, or a random Saturday).  This doesn’t have to be a perfect photo, just one that captures the little people in your life.

If you don’t already have a photo to use, this is one you can try and take yourself.  Just be sure to have realistic expectations.  First, be sure to choose a time of day when everyone is well rested and well fed.  Get the scene and the setting ready before you introduce any other people.  Think about LIGHT.  Maybe you want to use golden hour light (the last hour before sunset is called golden hour and produces really amazing, warm light).  Or, maybe you have a room in your house that brings in really beautiful afternoon light.  Take the photos there.  Thinking about light will make a big difference.  If you have little kids, ask for help from another grownup.  Have your helper do something to keep your kids entertained and happy.  And be fast!  Don’t worry about matching outfits (I love seeing kids in the clothes they picked themselves).  Get it done and don’t worry too much about perfection.
This is what we did last year.  Here’s the photo I used for our card.  And an outtake to show what was really happening!

  1. One or a collection of candid photos.  This can be fun too.  I personally much prefer taking storytelling photos and I’ve seen fun Christmas cards with either one or a collection of these photographs.  If you are going with this style, look back at your photos from the year and choose some of your favorites (be sure the people in your family are equally represented). 

Do you have your photo/photos selected?  (Don’t think too hard about it!).  You’re ready to move on to session number two.

Session 2: Order Your Cards

  1. Decide how many cards you want to send.  This can be a tough one.  If you’re an organized person and have an address book, just go count the people you want to send a card to.  Or, maybe you know how many you sent last year.  Perhaps you can just look at your Facebook friend list to estimate how many cards to send (don’t forget the grandparents or other Facebook holdouts!)

  2. Order your stamps (do it online).  You can order Christmas stamps right here.(You don’t have to go to the post office!).  Go do it right now and you’ll have this step DONE!

  3. Get addresses for anyone you might be missing from your address book.  Thinking back about the people you want to send cards to this year, has anyone moved? (We’re a military family so the answer is always, “yes, lots of people!”).  Send quick Facebook messages or texts to those people requesting a new address (I like it better when I receive an individual message rather than a big group message but it’s up to you!).  After you’ve sent these messages, be sure to have your address book handy or your excel spreadsheet open so you can change the address as soon as you receive a responses.

  4. Here comes the fun part…actually selecting and ordering the Christmas cards.  Now there are approximately one billion different card designs you could choose from on the web.  I’m going to help you narrow the process a bit by sharing just 10 of my favorite designs (five from MPIX and five from Costco).  If you like one of these, go with it!

I choose Costco and MPIX for a few reasons.  One, I’ve had great experience with them in the past. Two, they are reasonably priced.  (I’m all for paying a little extra money for great prints when those prints will be hung on my walls for years and years.  But, I’m not paying tons of money for holiday cards that will be in the recycling by January).
Costco: You need to be a member of Costco for this (but hopefully you are already because it’s one of my favorite places!).  Cards at Costco cost $34.50 for 50.  (Unfortunately they only come in boxes of 50).  Costco will print your return address on the envelopes…one less thing to think about. 

Here are my five favorite design choices from Costco:
Colorful Joyful Circles
Christmas Lettering
 Sparkling Holidays
Golden Geometric Holiday
Peace, Love, and Light
 MPIX: MPIX is an online printing service.  They are known for their high quality of prints.  They also have Christmas cards!  MPIX cards cost $58 for a set of 50 (but you don’t have to buy 50 at a time like at Costco).   Use the code USPS122015 to get free shipping off your first order (this code is good until the end of the year). 

Here are my favorites from MPIX:
Creative Canvas Red Gold Foil
Charming Snowfall Gold Foil
Shimmering Stars
Christmas Collage
Christmas Glint
If you don’t like one of my favorites, go ahead and select your own (from these sites or the site of your choice).  But here’s the key….don’t obsess over your selection.  Set a timer for 20 minutes and at the end of the 20 minutes, pick one.  Plug in your photos, write a nice message, and ORDER (always doing a Google search for an online coupon code).

Session 3: Mail Your Cards

This session should be easy because you already got the stamps, addresses, and cards.  I like to enlist help for the addressing and mailing.   Gather all the people in your family with legible handwriting, put on some Christmas music, and pour yourself a glass of wine. 
And then stick those puppies in the mail.  You are done.

This originally was part of my November newsletter.  If you are interested in receiving the next newsletter in your inbox, sign up below!