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Need Help With Your Holiday Photo Cards? We’re Here for You

By Melissa Summers

I swear I don’t ever mean to wait until the last minute to order my holiday cards. 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 of my kids. This part of the process has been made infinitely easier by the advent of the digital camera — at least now I know right away that my kids look like lunatics in every single shot, instead of finding this out after I have paid $75 to develop eight rolls of film. So that’s progress.

Great Cards Start With Great Photos

I wish I could give you advice on how to get your kids to take the Perfect Holiday Card Photo. Instead, I’m over here begging my children to smile. “Please smile! Please keep your eyes open while you smile. Please smile with a little less tooth. Great! Now can you both do that at the same time? No? Are you sure???” Sigh. I’m going to have to bring in professional models eventually and pretend they are my kids, so I’m not the one to give you photo advice.

Fortunately, Shutterfly and ClickinMoms have teamed up to create a basic how-to for family photos with some really good, easy-to-follow tips on location, lighting and poses. They also talk through the pros and cons of hiring a professional vs. taking your own photos. A big con for me is that professional photographers can be expensive and I am cheap, but maybe a photographer will cost less than hiring fake kids. Hmm.

In the meantime, I have been researching where you can get great cards. You know, once you have the perfect photo. Here’s what I’ve found.

Where to Find the Best Holiday Cards

Maybe you’re a show off and you have a very photogenic child who just sits and smiles and poses in a delightful non-pose every time you pull out the camera. You have just so many pictures of your child looking absolutely perfect that now you’re sitting at your kitchen table asking how on earth you’ll be able to choose just one shot. Shutterfly to the rescue: Their holiday photo cards can be customized with multiple photos, in some cases up to six pictures per card. Just so you know, I will eat my shoe if I ever have enough good pictures of my children to fill six spots on a greeting card. But if you have a half dozen great pictures of your kids from this past year, this is the option for you.

Tiny Prints
Tiny Prints has a lovely collection of cards — so many, in fact, that if I had to pick my favorite cards in the collection, I couldn’t. They also have a nifty tool that lets you see how the card of your choice would look with your photos on it, which prevents me from wanting to just give up and ask for them to send my cards with the models on it instead of my own kids. Because those kids are smiling and happy. And so far, mine are not.

I 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). Sometimes I get deals so cheap I couldn’t write “Happy Holidays” on a piece of notebook paper and save any more cash. Of course, this means I have to opt for a photo mount card (the kind where you slide your picture into the little slots in the card) but hey, I’m saving money! 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.

It’s already December, though, so I don’t know what you’re doing sitting around reading this. You’ve got cards to mail.

More From AlphaMom

Last-Minute Gift: Festive Homemade Peppermint Bark
DIY Holiday Cards: The Abstract Snowscape
Make This Simple Gingerbread House Holiday Photo Card
Our Favorite DIY Advent Calendars

Published December 4, 2006. Last updated July 26, 2018.
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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  • Mrs. CPA

    December 5, 2006 at 10:17 am

    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.

  • Woman with Kids

    December 5, 2006 at 10:34 am

    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?

  • Wendy Mac

    December 5, 2006 at 12:01 pm

    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…

  • kate

    December 5, 2006 at 12:58 pm

    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!

  • melissaS

    December 5, 2006 at 12:59 pm

    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

    December 5, 2006 at 1:13 pm

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

  • melissaS

    December 5, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    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.

  • pixie sticks

    December 5, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    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.

  • tracey

    December 5, 2006 at 4:16 pm

    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?

  • pixie sticks

    December 5, 2006 at 4:37 pm

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

  • Amy

    December 5, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    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

    December 5, 2006 at 8:31 pm

    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.

  • Stacy

    December 7, 2006 at 10:26 am

    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! 😉

  • Melod

    December 7, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Great links! Thanks.

  • LadyBug

    December 7, 2006 at 12:56 pm

    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!

  • gorillabuns

    December 8, 2006 at 12:08 am

    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?

  • Leta

    December 10, 2006 at 7:30 pm

    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.