I wouldn't have seen what a privilege and blessing doing family Christmas cards was had it not been for our families trial of unemployment. I wouldn't have even given it a a second thought that the process of getting coordinating outfits, paying a photographer, and buying the cards and stamps for all our family and friends was such a big spend.
It was just a normal thing you did and I didn't think much of it when we had budget for it.
But then we lost our job and with a big student loan hanging over our heads and a growing family on our hands it was simply not possible. So when Christmas time was rolled around and I began seeing all my friends post their beautifully put together family photo sessions, getting pictures for their holiday cards, I began to feel depressed.
Not having a big Christmas for the kids wasn't actually that hard for me to face. I was wanting to scale things down to what was more important anyway and this was an opportunity to do that. But missing the opportunity to document my family and share it with those I cared about was a big hit. I started hating looking at social media because it would only make me frustrated that we couldn't contribute to the onslaught of holiday greetings.
But after a while as we made our fight back into financial stability I began to figure out a way around the big spend for the Christmas cards and found a few tricks that actually made it doable.
For example one year I got 40 Christmas cards made, stamped and mailed for just $34. Yes you read that right, mailed.
So I am going to share to with you the top tips and tricks to making Holiday cards affordable.
First the family pictures:
While the nice, perfectly coordinated outfits and fancy background pictures are nice - if you can do them great- but if you find that it's not in your budget here are couple of ways around it.
- Use old photos that have similar themes/backgrounds. In today's world of camera phones, chances are you already have some great photos of your family on your phone.
- Use random pictures of meaningful events that you did throughout the year. It is a great way of documenting the year and people love to see what you've been up to.
- Ask a family member or friend to take your picture. This year my wonderfully talented friend Jena took our pictures.
- To avoid the costly new clothes, just pick 3 common colors to coordinate your family that you don't have to go outside of your closet for. Some simple color combos are blue, white and light brown. White shirts with jeans can be easy if your kids don't stain their shirts within one wear like mine.
- Or you can do what my cute friend Tessa did and have each of your kids in a different color and take a head shot so you don't even have to worry about bottoms.
- I think you could even get away with just doing a family selfie if you're really in a pinch.
So now you have the pictures, what about the expensive printing? Here are a few ideas around that:
- My friend Tessa from above has a brilliant idea she's been using for years. She simply designs her own card using Illistrator or you could use Pixlr.com and then sends them to Costco or Walmart to be printed for the same price as a regular printed photo (right now $.09). For the cards she is sending to faraway friends she buys inexpensive envelopes from the store and the rest she hands out as she sees people. And her Christmas card is one I look forward to getting every year.
- Take advantage of online deals. Almost every year since I've been doing Holiday cards there is always discount codes or deals sometime during the year. You just have to catch them.
- Don't be afraid to use discount codes to multiple companies. For example this year Shutterfly.com is offering 10 free cards (use code: 497Z-FGRN-XY62-WV6CD4 at checkout) and mixbook.com has a code for $25 off with no minimum purchase (just use code MIXMAS at checkout). So with those 2 codes I was able to get 35 cards for only $8.