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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?

P.S. If you’re really looking to have the holidays in the bag this year, we’ve got two ways to help. First get the holiday shopping out of the way with all 10 of our 2013 Gift Guides here

Over 250 of the most engaging educational toys out there - the only gift guide you'll need this year! (love the detailed descriptions and age recommendations)

Second, check out our new eBook, Hands-On Holidays, packed with low-prep and low-stress ideas for make memories crafting, cooking, reading and adventuring with the kids!



P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?

MPMK's Famous Toy Gift Guides


Special holiday offer!


POYEL ebook and printables


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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.

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