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Easy, Affordable Photo Holiday Card Options


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Looking for easy, affordable photo holiday card options? You’re in the right place! I don’t have enough time or money to devote to our annual cards so I’ve tried all the choices to find the pros and cons of each to find the best options.

feet wearing socks on a wood floor in front of a pile of presents under the Christmas tree with title text reading Affordable Options for Holiday Cards

I envy people who are natural social butterflies. They effortlessly float from one group of friends to the next, spending just enough time to stay involved with and informed about all the meaningful people in their lives without sacrificing all of their time and energy in the endeavor.

Me? I can lose an entire morning on the phone with one friend. And heaven forbid that I have to attend two social events in one weekend!

I need to get plenty of rest the week leading up to it just to make sure I can handle all that activity, not to mention the schedule gymnastics it usually entails to ensure all of the kids are taken care of while I’m out fostering relationships with other people.

This is the reason that I am: 1) a Facebook fanatic — I can easily keep track of every semi-important people in my life with a few random minutes scanning my news feed, and 2) a giddy sender and recipient of holiday cards — a streamlined process for staying connected to all of your friends and family in a socially acceptable mass mailing and an entire month of finding out what your friends and family have been up to and marveling over how all the kids are growing up so quickly.

Before digital photos, holiday cards were actually a labor-intensive endeavor. All that blank white space on the inside of the card called for a lengthy personal message to fill it up.

Now, you simply have to upload some of your favorite photos, choose a template that reflects your personality, and personalize it with your name and message. What used to take hours can now be accomplished with a few clicks of the mouse. Scrawl a quick note on the microscopic blank space on the front of the card or insert  a copy of your family newsletter and you’re done!

For me, the most difficult part of creating our annual family holiday card is choosing how I am going to get them printed. Here are all of the methods available to you and the pros and cons of each.

Affordable Photo Holiday Card Options

Print At Home

I did this once. Conceptually, it seemed like a great idea. That was until I ran out of (very expensive!) ink halfway through and then, when I finally changed the ink, ended up with strange lines down the page because apparently my heads needed cleaning which meant something significant to my computer and printer but was just a bunch of mumbo jumbo to me.

After finally figuring out how to clean my printer heads and successfully printing the rest of my cards, I then had to fold and trim them all. Much like moving ourselves, this was something that I had to do once to convince myself that I would never do it again since there are companies that do it better and cheaper.

Pros:

  • You control the timeline
  • You can customize as much as you want
  • Easy to print a few more if you underestimate how many you need

Cons:

  • Requires a high quality printer
  • Depending on the cost of your ink and the paper you choose, can be very expensive
  • Labor-intensive (relative to the other options)

Photo Gift Website

I created our family’s very first holiday photo cards at Snapfish. Since I was already in the habit of uploading my digital pictures to their site, I had plenty to choose from when I decided to create our card.

I absolutely LOVE Snapfish, not only because they make everything photo-related easy to do, but also because their customer service rocks. One year my sister-in-law, who organizes our family photo calendar, inadvertently left one of the family members out.

With over 60 family members, it was an understandable mistake but she insisted on getting it fixed. She called Snapfish to see if she could mail back the calendars to get them fixed, willing to pay for the trouble, and Snapfish instead insisted on reprinting new calendars for free even though the mistake wasn’t theirs.

There are other photo gift websites that also print holiday cards. I know a lot of people use Shutterfly and are happy with them. If you already have an account with one of these sites, it’s easy to pick and choose photos from ones you’ve already uploaded.

Pros:

  • Huge selection of card styles
  • Easy to use templates
  • Can have them shipped to you OR pick them up in-store (at participating Walmart, Walgreens, Meijer and Duane Reade stores)
  • Several customization options are available including matte or glossy finish, preprinted return address on envelopes, and thicker cardstock

Cons:

  • Difficult and costly if you realize you didn’t order enough
  • Pick up in-store isn’t available for all styles or in all locations so you may have to wait for delivery

Superstore

Superstores like Walmart and Target that have their own photo centers on-site usually also offer holiday cards at very reasonable rates. I have used both of them in years past. I’ve also used Staples Copy & Print.

You can design the cards online and then choose to have them shipped to you or printed in store for pickup. If you want to stick with a company you are familiar with, these stores are a great option for holiday cards. One word of caution though, if you can try to go to the store to see samples since the print and paper quality is hard to discern on your computer screen.

Pros:

  • Huge selection of card styles
  • Easy to use templates
  • Can have them shipped to you OR pick them up in-store (at participating Walmart, Walgreens, Meijer and Duane Reade stores)
  • Several customization options are available including matte or glossy finish, preprinted return address on envelopes, and thicker cardstock

Cons:

  • Difficult and costly if you realize you didn’t order enough
  • Pick up in-store isn’t available for all styles or in all locations so you may have to wait for delivery

Warehouse Membership Club

If you are a member at a warehouse club like Sam’s Club or Costco that has a photo center on-site, you can usually order your holiday cards there. I have used Sam’s Club’s holiday card service before and was very happy with the results. Like the other options, you can easily design the card online choosing from a variety of card styles and customize with various options like paper quality and finish.

Pros:

  • Huge selection of card styles
  • Easy to use templates
  • Discount pricing on high quality products

Cons:

  • Must be a member of the club to use the service
  • Must pick up in store

If you opt to forego the preprinted return address, consider designing or ordering holiday return address labels. You can easily create your own and print them at home or order them from a company like Vistaprint or Mabel’s Labels.

Another Option: Stationery Website

For wedding invitations and birth announcements, stationery companies are the first thing I think of. For those special events, I was willing to splurge on stationery because they were important moments in my life and I wanted to reflect it in the quality of the announcements. If your holiday cards fall into this category, check out sites like Minted for beautiful, high-quality cards that are still relatively affordable.

However, with four kids most of my holiday budget goes towards gifts for them and all of their teachers, coaches, etc. I admittedly skimp a little on our holiday cards. So, though they are outside my personal budget, the cards from stationery stores are still quite reasonable.

Pros:

  • Huge selection of card styles
  • Easy to use templates
  • High quality printing and paper
  • Several customization options are available including preprinted return address on envelopes, envelope liners and thicker cardstock

Cons:

  • Higher Cost
  • Must wait for them to be printed and shipped to you

Granted, a stationery website isn’t exactly an affordable photo holiday card option, but for those of you who consider your holiday card an important memento, this is a great option.

3 thoughts on “Easy, Affordable Photo Holiday Card Options”

  1. I guess I never really thought about all of the options you brought up. I usually buy Christmas cards after the holidays thinking I will save money. The problem is, by the time the next year rolls around I forget where I put them and have to go and buy more! I really like the cards with the photos. I am also in awe of the fact that you all have a family calendar!

    Reply

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