I bet many of you are already on the ball about this year’s holiday cards, but try as I might – I’m a little behind. I’ve been meaning to check out what fun and new designs may be out there. There were so many options it was a bit dizzying, but I noticed some trends – some are oldies but goodies and some look to be newer. I gathered some of my favorites to share with you from some of the photo book companies that also print cards: Mixbook, MyPublisher, Picaboo, Shutterfly, Snapfish, and TinyPrints. I have the cards grouped by company but added notes here and there to point out the trends.
I saw several designs playing off the huge popularity of chalkboards this past year. You may recall the chalkboard freebies I created and posted (which you can still download here), so of course any card design inspired by chalkboards and chalkboard fonts, caught my eye. The style is fun, casual and nostalgic.
The newsletter style allows you to add the past year’s highlights along with photos. You may like this design if you had some notable events in 2012, like a new baby, new house, new job or if you just want to add some lighthearted notes or messages. When I was growing up, an older couple who were my parents’ host family when they were college students would send out a really interesting hand-typed newsletter every holiday. Even though I’d never met them, it was interesting to read about the going ons in their lives – this was all pre-Facebook mind you!
You may or may not know of my obsession with rounded corners. I opted for rounded corners on my wedding invitations and escort cards and most of my printed matter for my big day, even buying a rounded corner punch tool so I could manually round the corners of some of signage and programs I’d printed at home. I guess I’m not the only one who likes rounded corners. Some companies are even offering them as an option for all their cards now. It only adds 10 cents to the cost of each card, so it’s an affordable add-on.
Photo collage cards are always a perennial favorite. You could opt for one big photo in the front and several complementary photos on the back. There are so many different type of collage cards – scrapbook style with unique frames, to freeform collages, to simple clean lined grids. What caught my eye this year were these big trifold cards from Tiny Prints with plenty of space for lots of photos and text. I guess it must be the photo book lover in me that drew me to these grand beauties. While they expand the amount of space you have to add all those lovely photos, they do stretch the wallet a bit too, so it’s not a budget friendly option (at the smallest quantities they run about $4.00, but if you’re getting about 50, the price will drop to a little more than $3.00 each). But, you never know when a deal will pop up and in fact, these tri-fold cards are on sale now.
With the popularity of Instagram, folks have been having lots of fun adding various filters and effects to their photos. You may notice Polaroid color effects, vintage overlays and the like in some of these samples I’ve shown here. While some companies may offer some photo editing as part of their card design tools, “Instagram” like effects are not one of them, but if you want the same look, it’s really easy and free. Check out the free editing tools I’ve surveyed here, you can easily get the same effect and then upload those modified photos. Yea!
It’s all about options right? Many of these designs you see allow for a certain level of customization while some companies allow for complete customization. I’ve noticed that similar to the move towards greater customization in photo book creation, companies are giving those same options when designing cards. It’s a welcome trend for a self-professed control freak like me. With Mixbook and Picaboo, you can move text, move the photo boxes and resize them to suit your photos best – complete control from what I understand. Even where you don’t have complete control over the design, you are given several options, especially on the reverse. You could stick to one photo or even 15 in some cases and choose to have text or no text. Many companies are also offering the same design in several colors so you have lots of options. If you like the design as is, don’t let my love of customization scare you, making your card is very easy. Just upload photos and drag and drop!
In addition to design customization, many companies are also allowing you to choose your paper stock. Photo paper (where your cards are printed on the same paper that prints are developed on) is the most economical option, while premium, extra thick cardstock will run you more. So, it’s nice to have an option for every budget.
Photo Book Girl’s Holiday Photo Card Tips
- With collage cards, selecting photos taken in the same session (or same day with the same clothes), will probably look most cohesive, though it’s not necessary. It just depends on the look you’re going for. A single good photo can also make a beautiful card with lots of impact;
- If you don’t celebrate Christmas, many of the designs focus on the New Year or offer messages of “peace”, “joy” etc. I also saw many beautiful Hanukkah designs a few Kwanzaa designs and cards with Feliz Navidad on them as well. Chinese New Year designs weren’t out yet, but looking forward to seeing those!
- Remember that square cards will cost more postage wise ($.65 vs. $.45). If you want to save the extra mailing cost, check if the company offers modified envelopes (the interior opening is shaped to fit a square, but the exterior is still rectangular). At Tiny Prints for example, these types of envelopes are free;
- Want to save time on addressing? Some companies will print your return address and some will even mail out your cards for you (for an extra fee);
- There are always deals running somewhere – I post them on my deals page along with the photo book deals. Also be on the lookout for FREE shipping deals – that can also save you some bucks.
Cards for Every Budget
There are a lot of options that can affect price, but for the average 5 x 7 flat card (versus folded) for 10 cards, prices ranged from $1.20 to $2.50 per card. If you order more (in some cases 20 to 25 cards and up) the prices drop. For example, for 20 cards the range is $.90 to $2.30 per card. As mentioned above, if you go with cards printed on photo paper versus cardstock, the average was about $.85 cents each. These prices are all regular prices and don’t reflect sales prices if any. Currently there are deals on Shutterfly, TinyPrints and Snapfish cards! Check out my deals page for all the latest!
Well I hope you enjoyed checking out the fun and festive designs as much as I did!
I’d love to hear from you if you have any holiday card tips or comments!