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Best Holiday Family photo cards

By Melissa Summers

I know you’ve already gotten the perfect shot of your children, ordered your holiday cards, addressed them and then lovingly licked each of them. You’re my mother aren’t you?
I, on the other hand, have been stuck at step one: attempting to get a nice shot of my children. Also I have not bought my cards and so I have not addressed them either. I have only attempted to get a nice photo of my children and extensively browsed my card choices.
Each year I start the saga of the holiday picture in October, thinking it will give me plenty of time to get a good shot. The process has been aided immensely by the digital camera, at least now I know right away when I haven’t gotten the shot I wanted instead of finding out in Costco that the 8 rolls of film I just developed for $75 haven’t yielded even one usable shot.
I wish I could give you advice on how to get a great shot to use in your holiday cards. But I’m over here begging the children to smile. “Please smile! Please smile at the same time and keep your eyes open. Can you smile with a little less tooth?” I’m going to have to bring in professional models eventually, so I’m not the one to give you advice.
However, Tracey at Picture This has some wonderful advice for those of us seeking a beautiful shot of our kids to share with family and friends this year. I suggest you start here and then follow the links to each consecutive post. Tracey shares the rules (be flexible with your vision, don’t mention a photo shoot to the kids) and suggests what to wear, among many other gems. She goes on to give advice on poses and props, suggesting you get your toddler to lay down next to your baby by telling him Santa can only hear what he would like for Christmas when he’s laying down. Then, to make your picture even more adorable, ask your toddler to whisper what he’d like in the baby’s ear.
Tracey, I rarely resort to caps because I am a soft spoken woman but: WHERE WERE YOU WHEN MY BABIES WERE LITTLE? This is genius and it’s only one great tip among many, you must go read.
Once you use all of Tracey’s fabulous advice to get a great picture which shows all your favorite family and friends how very adorable your babies are, you’ll need cards and I have choices for you.
iomoi.gifIomoi has several simple photo cards available or you can skip the photo debacle and just order a regular card (wimp). I like the Parrot Cay-Red version although, there are two men and two women in that picture and the card wishes you a Happy Holiday from Jack, Sarah, Jane and Olivia. I know I’m just a midwesterner, but if you wacky people on the coast are naming your sons Jane, I don’t want to know about it. PS: If you purchase this version, will you please customize it to read, “Arrr. We be the Smith Family.” Please? It looks like you have plenty of time to order, but you should probably hurry. Production takes between 7 and 14 days and tack on time for shipping of your order back to you.
tinyprints.jpgTiny Prints has a lovely collection of cards, how did they know I love that exact shade of green and red with chocolate brown? Four pages of great choices and until 12/6 (hurry) they’re offering 10% off your order (use code: HAPPYHOLIDAYS). If I had to pick my favorite cards in the collection, I couldn’t. Unless you told me my life depended on it then I’d say this snow scene (I have a thing for the silouhettes this year) and this one with red and blue snowflake appeals to me for some reason, maybe it’s the fact that their picture is complete already. I wonder if I could just pretend those kids are Maddie and Max?
paperedtogether.jpgPapered Together does not offer photo cards, which is good news if you have ugly children you don’t want to show to the world. They do offer beautiful printed cards perfect for your sharing your holiday cheer. I’m also sorry to tell you, I still include pictures of my kids in regular cards, I just tuck them inside or use a little photo adhesive to stick the photo inside the card. Following along with my obsession with silhouettes I like this one and following my obsession with things which are cute, I like this red sled version as well. Krista from Papered Together let me know she can get most orders out within a day of ordering (depending on the size of the order) and that she ships via the USPS so refer to their guidelines when planning your order.
marthastewart.gifDid you know Kodak EasyShare Gallery has a line of Martha Stewart holiday cards? They do. I know, she’s taking over the world. Guess who made my shower curtain, the paint in my dining room and the towels in my bathroom? Now holiday cards too? Is there anything Martha isn’t crafting up there in Connecticut? I like the simplicity of these dialogue bubbles and I like the vintage wallpaper look of these. I like the look of these (silouhette!) but at around $3 a card I’d have to either love my friends and family a lot more or hate them so much I decided not to send cards to very many people this year. I also got a good laugh at the accordian fold cards, which fit 3-5 pictures. I am a very mentally fragile woman Martha! Do not suggest I get 3-5 card-worthy shots of my children okay?
collageshutterfly.jpgMaybe you’re a show off and you have a very photogenic child who just sits and smiles and poses in a delightful non-pose everytime you pull out the camera. You have just so many pictures of your child looking absolutely perfect you’re sitting at your kitchen table asking how on earth you’ll be able to choose just one shot. Two things: maybe I can just use your pictures for my cards and also you might want to look at the new collage greeting card offerings at Shutterfly. Most of the styles will hold at least three images and some have room for up to six. Just so you know, I will eat my shoe if I ever have enough good pictures of my children to fill 6 spots on a greeting card. It looks like you’ve got just over a week to get your cards delivered via standard shipping and Shutterfly is also offering a 20% discount for a limited time.
target.jpgI know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “Melissa, I thought you said you were cheap?” It’s true, I am. So I often buy my cards at Exposures after the holiday on clearance for the next year (avoid year specific designs if you do this). Even cheaper? I buy at Target, sometimes even on after-christmas clearance, which is so cheap I couldn’t write “Happy Holidays” on a piece of notebook paper and save any more cash. The key when choosing cheap cards is to steer clear of a lot of ornamentation. It’s just too easy to go wrong with a fussy design, simple is always easier to fake. These red photo cards from Target don’t scream, “Hey! Check me out! I’m a great card!” Instead they say, “I am a simple card and I am here to wish you a happy holiday and highlight this image of my sender’s adorable children.” Yes, it says all that in a set of 25 for $9.99.
It’s already December 5th, so I don’t know what you’re doing sitting around reading this. You’ve got cards to mail.
Related Content:
2006 Melissa’s Anti-Gift Guide
2007 Melissa’s Anti-Gift Guide
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Kids’ Digital Cameras Reviews
Best Children’s Holiday Craft Ideas
Handmade Holiday Gifts To Make With Kids
Best Children’s Crafts Websites and Resources
Best Personalized and DIY Gifts
Dear Santa Letter Week: children’s stationery & resources
The Best Handmade Holiday Cards For Kids
The Holiday Open House: Five Easy Steps for Hosting
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Complete Resource for the Best Advent Calendars

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • We used the Martha Stewart cards for a Halloween greeting and the Kodak Gallery is super easy to use. The cards turned out very cute, they were not expensive ($22 for the premium paper and envelopes for 20), and the shipping was really fast.

  • I used holiday cards purchased on …special, slightly after the holiday last year. But they’re cute!
    And cheap! And already in the mail… doesn’t that count for something?

  • Woman with Kids, they’re in the freakin’ mail already? Goodness!
    Uh, I ordered my cards on December 1st. Only because I went “Oops, Christmas is in 24 days”.
    I’ll be lucky to have them in the mail a few days before Christmas…

  • As if Target needs *my* help, but we just got our photo cards from them yesterday. I love the digital age. We took the photo on Sunday, uploaded it and picked a card (classy but modern red Tord design) Monday, I picked them up in-store on my way home from work Monday afternoon. And, cheap. $17.60 for 40 cards & envelopes. As it turns out, I actually got 43 photo cards and 48 envelopes. Score!

  • If you’ve got your cards in the mail already, I don’t care if you sent out slips of junk mail as holiday greetings. You win.

  • bridget

    stamped, nad licked now I just have to address them. I wonder how long I will put that off for?

  • You people who are done….how did you get the picture? I’m going to send out a picture of the kids from like 3 years ago and be done with it.

  • I swear, next year I’m going to go the collage card route using all of the “outtakes” I get from trying to get just one usable picture.

  • Hey, alright! I’m so glad to hear my tips help. That’s pretty much my purpose-to share the good photo word with the mother masses.
    This year I’m using the Shutterfly sample you showed in the post. Super versitile! Perfect for Pixie Sticks idea. Love that one! Can I share it at Picture This?

  • of course! Share away. I would personally love to get
    a card like that. Misery loves company.

  • Amy

    Here’s my cheap photo-card solution: Make a collage in photoshop with nice wintery clip-art background and a holiday greeting, take it to Rite-Aid, get a bunch of 19-cent prints made, and glue them on the front of blank cards. Or just write your message on the back like a postcard.

  • Amy C

    I went the shutterfly route. Dark blue backgound with white snowflakes, 3 pics across. I put one of each girlie by herself on the ends and one of them together in the middle. I had to work for a good solo pic of the big one. The little one had an adorable pic from Halloween I used and the together shot was a total improptu love session on the kitchen counter this past summer. They are all tan and laughing, this year is my favorite card yet. I love the collage option with shutterfly.

  • I saw the cutest idea from a photographer mom where she was having a hard time getting a picture of her kids. She used a picture of them all upset and put the caption as “Merry Freakin’ Christmas!” Not for everyone, but I thought it was cute!
    As for me, I’m a Martha wanna-be. I took the picture, designed the card, ordered them and they were all in the mail…by December 1st. Don’t hate me…I just don’t sleep very much! 😉

  • Great links! Thanks.

  • I had to stop back by here and thank you for inspiring me to get my Christmas cards ordered. I ordered them last night from And I used a family photo – scanned and uploaded to the Snapfish site – we had made earlier in the year. I decided I didn’t really care if the kids were wearing shorts; at least we were all smiling and looking in the same direction. Score!

  • okay, so i got my cards in the mail before christmas but does it really count that i used last year’s found postage stamps and they will all be returned to sender?

  • Cards in the mail?!? HAHAHA I don’t even have a picture yet, nor have I even attempted to get one. And it really helps that my husband is a picky-as-hell graphic designer who will insist on designing the card himself even if it means our cards get mailed in February. I love Pixie’s idea though.