mindful living, effortless style

This is going to save me so much money this year!

How to Make Designer Holiday Cards at Home

I am head over heels in love with the gorgeous holiday stationery offerings by fabulous companies like minted. The problem is I send out a lot of holiday cards. A lot, as in over 100. Is that crazy? Am I normal? I’m not sure, but I do know that it adds up quickly, especially when you factor in postage.

Despite the cost, what really holds me back is the commitment to one design. I like to tailor my messages and photos to groups of people. Close friends, for example, are likely to receive a more informal, light hearted card than, say, my husband’s co-workers.

For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, it’s also nice to have a “Holidays” or “New Years” message to spread. And, although I love them to bits, I know not everybody needs nor wants a photo of my furry little dachshunds.

The selection of cards I wanted added up, so it only made sense to go down the DIY route. There are a number of ways to design and create your own holiday cards, but the easiest route I found was using an app on my iPhone called Red Stamp. If you haven’t downloaded it yet, I highly recommend you do. (I have absolutely no affiliation with Red Stamp, I just really love the app.)

You can create beautiful, free cards in mere moments, and send them via email or text to any recipient. It also saves a copy to your Camera Roll, which gave me the idea to upload the app-generated photo cards to my local photo shop (I use Walmart Photo Centre, where prints are just 20 cents a piece, versus the $1 a piece they charge for their own photo cards).

I’ve also used the app Phonto to add text to photos on my iPhone, and I’m sure there are others that could be used for the same purpose. The best part is, you can mix and match as you aren’t tied down to any specific card design – use as many options and/or photos as you like!

For the Red Stamp version, you will need to trim around the card once printed, as it’s been formatted for a digital medium. I used a corner punch to round the edges as well which definitely adds a welcome touch of whimsy.

The resolution is not comparable to those of design studios, so don’t expect to replace high quality, professional holiday cards. They do, however, do the trick for me and make great cards on their own, or taped inside the cover of store bought cards. They are a nice, middle ground between the sometimes-cheesy photo cards offered by local photo shops and the custom cards we all wish we could get our hands on.

If you’ve got some photo-editing skills, you can skip the apps and just add your own text and graphics on your computer and convert to .jpg for uploading. I used this technique to give Max and Sadie a little “Elf” makeover in this family photo of us from last month. This photo card printed in a higher resolution because it wasn’t optimized for web, and I uploaded it as a photo straight from my computer instead of using an app.

It was nice to be able to print out one of each of my 10 designs to get a feel for which ones I liked best. I even printed some for my cousins, four of the cutest kids you will ever find (they are the Smiths gracing the first photo).

In the name of beautiful correspondance, I think a great recipe I will follow in years to come is to combine both professionally printed custom cards and my new DIY version. Let’s be honest here, Uncle Joe isn’t likely to appreciate the professional card in the same way your ever trendy best friend would. So why not have a few lists and send different cards to different people?



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Jen puts her passion for organizing to work creating functional household labels for the home she shares with her husband and two mini-dachsunds. You can find her sharing her love of home decor and organizing, as well as designing labels, at The Social Home.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Robyn November 29, 2012 at 8:42 am

These are great! I don’t know if they have these apps for andriod. Still looking! Thanks so much!


julia [lifeonchurchill] November 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

great ideas! I haven’t bought my cards yet for this exact reason. It adds up so fast..


Kristin November 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm

These are really cute! Moo.com is also a great option for cheap high-quality cards. Plus you can put a different image on each card, so you can have as many designs as you want.


Ashley November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm

What program do you use on your computer?


Erin November 30, 2012 at 12:35 am

Ashley, I make my own cards every year…i go to tinyprints.com, pick out the design i like and then recreate something similar with Microsoft Publisher and dafont.com (different fonts make such a huge difference and this site has a ton of free ones). I have even found fonts that you can use as a background design. After i create it i save them as a jpg file and buy a vistaprint groupon. I buy 60 cards each year for about $30 ($17 for the groupon and about $8 for the postage from Vistaprint). This year i even had enough vistaprint credit to get some seals for the envelopes! It does take a lot of time and you have to be familiar with the software program(s) but it makes me happy :) Good luck!


Tiffani Miller November 30, 2012 at 1:02 am

These are great ideas…I love the red stamp app! I just did my greeting cards through joyfulcards.blogspot.com, they do a kinda custom card– which is that you choose a base design and then work with a designer to make it yours then they send you the file and they are formatted to Costco photo center size… I got 50 cards, envelopes, and the custom design for 40.00 and since I do 200 cards every year–I know crazy–I got each additional 25 for 5.49 I think it ended up being 55.oo for all 200 cards and the design–I am going out to get red stamp for my digital greetings though…so fun! And wow the website looks awesome!


~Sara~ November 30, 2012 at 9:53 am

http://www.thecardcrate.com also has an inexpensive option if you don’t want to go through the trouble of doing it yourself. Lots of holiday designs, all completely customizable. 24 hour turn around, unlimited proofs and only $10 for a .jpg file that you can print anywhere :) Happy Holidays!


Kathy November 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I always buy my Christmas cards after Christmas when they are 50% or more off. I get mine from DaySprings.com. Usually if you spend over $40, shipping is free. I send out a lot of cards too. I just put a picture of our family on the inside. It’s not a Christmas picture because some our family likes to keep it all year. Just an idea…. :)


Lindsey December 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm

What is the trick for saving the RedStamp file so it isn’t blury. I am using a high res file in the app, but when I save it to camera, then upload to iPhoto, it is super blurry… any ideas? i found one I love and would like to use it for email cards this year. Yours look great above.


Jennifer Opsahl (@thepapersociety) December 11, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Hi Lindsey! Thanks for your question! I found through trial and error that it really depends on the design. I ended up printing about 10 different designs (just one copy of each) to see which turned out best, and certainly some of them looked more clear while others looked less so. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a way to save it in high resolution, but to be able to print photo cards for 8 pennies a piece (Costco has 4 by 6’s for 8 cents right now!), I wasn’t too picky! The “Merry” design above with my two dogs was one of the better ones, as well as ones not pictured above that had a red background with white text “Merry Christmas”. If you don’t want to compromise on clarity, there are lots of great online websites where you can add text and clip art to photos that will save high resolution. This post was by no means suggesting just to use Red Stamp, but to share the idea that you can make your own photo cards for really cheap! I hope you can find an option that works for you! (And truly, I’m not trying to shamelessly plug my etsy shop, but if you do want a high res photocard designed for you, I’m offering it up for just $5 which is steal! http://www.shopthesociety.com)


Lindsey December 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm

perfect! I’m heading over to your Etsy site! Love all the options and $5 is awesome!! thx.


Mia December 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Would love to see the options for the Etsy card offer, went to the link and could not find it, could you help please.
Thank you


Steph (MPMK Founder) December 3, 2013 at 9:24 pm

Hi Mia,

This post was originally written last year so that link seems to have expired.



Jen at the Paper Society December 4, 2013 at 1:02 am

Hi Mia! I wasn’t going to provide them this year but will be accepting a limited number of custom orders so will post back here with a link when I do!


Jen at the Social Home (@thepapersociety) December 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

Hi Mia! I’ve just updated my blog with details on new designs for this year. See it here:


Also, for others interested, the app A Beautiful Mess now creates high resolution images, so it is by far the best option for adding text and designs to photos you would like to print!

Best of luck!


Kandyoh December 12, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I like this idea, but want to print on paperstock. My printer prints terrible colors, but can’t find anyone online that allows you to upload your own design. Have you had any success? Also, what about envelopes? Where do you find envelopes to fit?


ang December 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm



Leslie December 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Martha Stewart has a free scrapbook app for iPad. It comes with a few themes, and you can purchase more for a few dollars. You can create a card, upload it to snapfish, and print for a penny each when they have their penny print sale, otherwise they are 9 cents each. As long as you have decent quality photos, they turn out great!


Clara November 27, 2014 at 4:50 am

Thank you so much for this! I was looking at spending almost £1 per card and scrimping on who would get them, but I’ve done it your way and got 70 for less than £5! Amazing.

I blog at bigtreelittlemoose.blogspot.com and will link to here soon.


Rachelle December 4, 2014 at 5:37 am

This is the most helpful diy I have ever come across, we always do our own x-mas cards, this just made my life soooo much easier and saved me a ton of time! New to your blog, glad I stumbled upon it!


Kari December 8, 2014 at 9:51 am

Awesome blog! I just designed my holiday card at Red Stamp. When you send them to Walgreens, what size prints do you order? What about envelopes? I can’t wait to try this out. Thank you so much for sharing!


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