DIY: Creating a Family Holiday Card

If buying holiday cards strikes you as a missed opportunity to convey your family's unique story, charm and appeal through a do-it-yourself card, today's digital technologies can serve as your personal Santa's Little Helpers. From elaborate masterpieces that combine multiple photos with type and graphics to simple folded cards that include a shot of your entire family group, you can design and create an expression of your holiday cheer and your family spirit.

Creating a Design

Use the image-editing and page-layout software on your home computer, download a template from a site that specializes in DIY cards or use your tablet to visit an online photo editor that produces a completed card design. Whichever method you choose, stick with a traditional holiday color scheme or choose your own eclectic palette to suit your family. Lisa Conquergood, co-founder and chief marketing officer of photo editing website PicMonkey, emphasizes the "Y" in "DIY," urging card creators to create personal expressions of their family joy. "People enjoy receiving cards with more of a personal twist, instead of seeing the same design templates over and over again," she says.

Choosing Photos

Conquergood recommends taking the time to go through the images you've shot with your digital camera or smartphone to find the best image. "The most important thing is to choose a photo that represents you," she says. "People open your card with the anticipation of connecting with you, and that connection is more meaningful if the image is personal. For some, that might mean a collage of photos recapping a year of wild adventures. For others, it might be a professional portrait showing a quiet but thoughtful gaze." You can create a card without a family photo, but showing your togetherness adds meaning and depth to the message you send, giving distant friends and relatives a look at growing kids, new additions and beloved pets.

From Design to Creation

If you use an online service to create your card or build it in the software you already own, the result exists as a digital file, not a stack of colored papers, decorations and ribbon. The cut-and-paste, crafter-made card design offers loving detail and handwork, but it doesn't match up well to the demands of a long recipient list. Conquergood suggests that you choose how you output your cards based on how many you need, using your home printer if you have only a few to print and considering a print service if your list is lengthy.

Sending Your Card

The choice between emailed and mailed cards can boil down to whether you want to incur the cost of stamps to send a keepsake that your recipients can treasure. Conquergood appreciates both digital and tangible cards. "I love receiving cards of all kinds: seeing how the family or couple has changed and hearing about their year. With everyone's busy lives I appreciate any effort, whether it is emailed or mailed." Her favorite cards arrive through the mail. "I have to admit being partial to physical cards, however. This type of correspondence is so rare that it feels that much more special. And with mailed cards, I get to see the photos more because I can display them in my home throughout the season." For the ultimate in customized mailings, create custom postage through an online service that can transform your digital-camera photos into real stamps.

Photo Credits: Shauna Hundeby/Demand Media

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