by Tracy Evans
Unless you’re Martha Stewart, getting ready for the holidays can give even the jolliest of souls a pounding headache. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa – or simply skip right on over to New Year’s – there are presents to buy and cards to send out. Picking out just the right thing ain’t so easy. Especially if you’re determined to send out the perfect holiday photo card. Who hasn’t agonized over shiny faces, out-of-place hairs and fluorescent red eyes?
Perfectionism is just one of the hang-ups that can get in the way of you, photo cards and the mailbox. Procrastination is the other. Every year I say I’m going to send out photo cards and then I don’t. But now that I’m a mom I no longer feel like a Grinch. My daughter just turned two and is obsessed with saying cheese and seeing her snot-nosed face on camera so I have promised to get my act together. And you can too as long as you plan ahead.
- Digital cameras have made picture taking easier than ever. But despite great technology either you have a knack for taking great pictures or you don’t. If you’re in the latter category don’t worry. Honestly, most recipients on your mailing list aren’t going to examine your photo under a magnifying glass looking for every clogged pore in your face. Nope, most people like photo cards and if they don’t well, they really shouldn’t be on your mailing list in the first place. Just send them a regular old card.
- I think the best photos are far from perfect. And that’s what makes them great. The kid with a sourpuss face while the rest of the clan beams in front of the fireplace. Grandpa sound asleep in his chair wearing a Santa Hat. A close-up of your messy toddler hugging the dog. Think about it. What cards do you remember? The unusual ones, right?
- If you insist on taking a traditional cheery photo - keep it simple. Be as real as possible. People can tell when you’re wearing a holiday sweater because your spouse gave you an ultimatum or your smile is as fake as a beauty pageant contestant.
Once you snap a mailbox worthy photo it’s time to make the card. Sure, you can head to the nearest photo store but online photo services are the most convenient. I’m relying on my good old friends at Snapfish to help end my procrastination. But there are lots of other sites to choose from.
QUICK, EASY AND AFFORDABLE
- Snapfish : Once you log onto Snapfish check out the holiday selections. There are two pages of options. Once you decide on a “keeper”- select the size, either 4”x8” or 5” x 7”. Then upload your photo. The design you pick dictates how many photos will be displayed on the card. Simpletons like me prefer just one photo. But if you want to go all out – you can choose up to six photos on your card. Pick a glossy or matte finish. And whether you want the card printed on photo or stationary paper. Photos are automatically sized for best fit. Prices vary but you can purchase a 20 card set with envelopes for as low as $5.79. Good deal: once you register for the first time with Snapfish you are eligible for twenty free prints. Not the holiday card sets but regular prints.
- Shutterfly : This is the number one online photo site. Lots of card designs to choose from. Scan thru them all or save time and answer these online questions. When you were a kid what was your favorite holiday gift? What kind of photo do you plan to use in your card? Based on your answers the site will match you up with several design styles. Flat or folded cards. Photo paper or card stock. Use one photo or up to nine photos in a collage. Most designs are sold in sets but some styles can be purchased as individual photos. Individual photos as low as 45-cents. Sets as low as $9.99. Shutterfly special: fifty “4” x “6” prints and free shipping with your first order. This does not apply to holiday card orders. Also, you can have cards delivered to you or pick them up at participating Target stores.
COSTS MORE - BUT WORTH THE WAIT
- Mango Ink : This husband and wife owned company is downright fabulous. After checking out their site I may very well break out of my routine and order my cards from here instead of Snapfish. But I will have to shell out more cash to do so. But the design quality is worth the money. Mango Ink offers 77 holiday card templates. Square and “5” x “7” layouts. My only complaint with this site is you have to click on a tiny thumbnail to get to the enlarged photo of each creative design. Also, you cannot upload your photos to this site. After ordering, simply e-mail the photo/s to the company and then they will mail the proofs to you. Once the proofs are approved your order will ship out a few days later. Photos are hand-mounted and printed on high-quality eco-friendly card stock. Rectangular cards are 8 for $16.80. Square cards are 8 for $21.80. Must purchase a minimum of two sets.
- Groovy Paper : Just add a few personal notes on a card or drop in a picture of you and your bunch. Lots of groovy styles. I especially like the two-sided cards. Pre-printed holiday design on one side – your personal photo on the flip side. E-mail photo order to site by December 3rd to ensure holiday delivery. They cannot retouch photos once they get them so make sure you send a high resolution digital image in the first place. Prices vary greatly on this site. Read the details before you place an order.
- tiny*prints : Offers a long list of hip and happening cards. Mostly “5’ x “7” in size. Flat or folded cards. This custom site does allow you to upload photos on the spot. They can also change color photos to black-and-white or sepia tone for free. Prices vary depending on style. Typically about 25 photo cards for about $50. Great perk: can pre-ship envelopes to you so you can get a head start filling in all those addresses. Currently offering free shipping on orders over $99. Use code MTD10 and save 10% off your order.
- Fabulous Stationary : If you’ve decided to bag the holiday photo this site is for you. They do not make photo cards. But you can personalize a holiday card. Each set consists of 25 note cards and 25 envelopes. Prices start at $45. Choose either standard envelopes or supply your two-line address and the site will print it on the back of the card and put it on the envelopes for you. Lot of other extras to choose from. Add inside text, upgrade to premium paper or add a matching notebook. Since these features are extra it will cost you some bucks. Production takes about 5 to 7 working days.
If I haven’t convinced you to cross “holiday photo cards” off your “to do” list maybe you’ll listen to the PR team at Shutterfly, “Holiday cards in October? It won’t sound so silly come December.” Good point!