Smile! 9 tips for sending the perfect holiday cards this season
It seems to happen year in and year out: You make your holiday shopping lists and check them twice. You bake cookies for the exchange, buy tickets to the Nutcracker and manage to get the decorations up at least in time to enjoy them for a few weeks before you find yourself ringing in the new year. But getting those holiday cards ordered, addressed, stamped and mailed before Dec. 25? Yeah, right.
But, this year, we’re here to help change up your holiday card game and turn you into one of those people (you know who they are) who not only get a beautiful card, but even a letter, too, out before you’ve even finished your Thanksgiving leftovers. (You’ll be in good company: According to Hallmark, Christmas is the United States’ largest card-sending holiday, with some 1.4 billion cards sent each year.)
Here’s the scoop on getting your greetings signed, sealed and delivered long before Rudolph takes to the skies.
Get creative. Christopher Wu, co-founder of Paper Culture, tells ShopBlog consumers are looking for more options when it comes to shapes, sizes, designs, customization and personalization, which means you’ll find more fun and interesting cards. “While there is still a demand for traditional cards, customers are looking for Instagram-like cards, whimsical graphics, modern patterns and so forth,” he says. “Since holiday cards give the opportunity to let faraway friends and family know what you’ve been up to, personalizing cards with a year in review or a special message is very popular. Having additional back of the card options to choose from has made it much easier for customers to find the perfect card because they can add more text or have multiple photo options.”
Plan ahead when it comes to photography. Wu recommends planning a few different image themes for holiday cards, so you have a variety of photos to choose from when it comes time to create your greeting. “We also recommend there is proper lighting when taking the photos, as that will make a big difference,” he adds. “One of the common things we see is low quality photos being used, which can really impact how the card looks. Some websites, such as ours, can detect the low quality image and alert the customer so they can upload a better image. Most importantly, have fun with it. It will put everyone in a festive mood!”
Get inspired. Can’t decide on a photo or theme for your cards? The folks at Snapfish suggest the following:
- Get everyone around the tree in matching footie pajamas
- Line up your family, by age or height, on a staircase
- Photograph your pet in a Christmas hat, stocking or box
- Visit a famous landmark in your city with the family in matching Santa hats
- Have each family member hold a different letter and spell out a holiday greeting, such as JOY, PEACE or SANTA.
Be an early bird. The earlier you order and send your cards, the better. “Traditionally, people send out holiday cards out right after Thanksgiving,” Wu says. “If you are looking to have them arrive before Christmas, we recommend ordering them by the second week of December so you don’t incur rush charges. Of course, you can send them as late as you want and if you are a serial procrastinator, send New Year cards in January.” (Tip, get 25 percent off holiday cards at Paper Culture now through Nov. 10, no code necessary.)
Get the kids involved. Hallmark recommends making your holiday card-sending an activity for the whole family. Let your children sign their names or decorate the back of envelopes with stickers or stamps. If you have older children, they can help address, sign and stamp cards, or, include color photocopies of a child’s artwork, a cute letter written by the kids or a favorite family recipe.
Don’t be afraid to try something different. Each year, card companies are coming up with fun alternatives to traditional holiday cards, such as Paper Culture’s personalized ornaments (above) which also serve as keepsakes that can be hung on a tree or mantle. “You can also get creative and send wall decals, such as our custom photo stickers,” Wu says. “Just divide them up and send them along in your own envelope. Since they are removable and repositionable they can be displayed in many places throughout the house.”
Give good etiquette. Tinyprints says you should use your own handwriting whenever you can, including signatures and envelope addresses, to show you care enough to personalize the card. And if you have time to include a short handwritten note? Even better. Also Tinyprints recommends, be sure to include your return address—not only does it let your recipient know who it’s from right away, but it allows them to capture your current address, so they can send a card back to you.
Be professional with business contacts. According to Tinyprints, send holiday cards to the offices of business associates, unless you have a social relationship. Keep things professional (ie: leave the family photo card for friends and relatives). Mailing cards to co-workers? Send to their homes to avoid any conflict or awkward moments at the office. Hallmark adds to keep these cards secular and brief.
Go green. “There is a lot of waste during the holiday season, so try to scope out a company that is minimizing its footprint by using 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper or giving back in some other way,” Wu says (Paper Culture’s cards are made with all recycled materials, and the company plants a tree with every order). “This way, you can feel good not only about the designs you picked, but because your cards were made without cutting down any new trees and your order resulted in a tree being planted.”