Yeah, I realize it’s almost February. But, our New Year’s cards landed on doorsteps last week and now I can share without ruining the surprise. The first year we were married I really wanted to do a holiday card. Being freshly married babies in a new city the budget for that year’s card for tiny. I mean next to nothing. If you asked Xan he would have said there was no budget for it, but it was really important to me so we compromised on something in the middle.
I searched all the websites and saw some really beautiful holiday cards that got me excited. However, those were incredibly expensive and it just wasn’t in the cards (get it!). I ultimately ordered some from Snapfish for a reasonable price. They weren’t foiled-laced and letter-pressed like I dreamed, but they had a nice font and I felt pretty good about it. Until they showed up. The quality was terrible. My heart sank because I knew immediately there was no way I could send them out and they weren’t worth the reasonable price I paid for them. That was it, I was sure of it. We’d just lost two weeks of time waiting for them. There was no way we would have the time or money to order more and get them out on time.
When I showed them to Xan he agreed the quality was junk, but being the problem solver he is (one of the many reasons I married him), he came up with an alternate solution. A friend at work had a business account with a printing company and would let us use it to place to the order. This meant two things: 1) we could design it ourselves and 2) it was unbelievably more affordable. For what we paid we would have gotten a quarter of the cards at any of the mainstream retailers. Which was a huge plus. It was really important to me to send out cards because we had gotten married in a small ceremony a couple months earlier and then promptly moved 3,000 miles away. We weren’t able to share the photos with the many inquiring friends and family. This was our chance to share a couple wedding pictures with everyone we loved.
The reception to our first card was overwhelming. People really loved it and loved that it came during January. It was that last little trickle of special holiday mail to feed the stream that had slowed. This year we sent our card to almost 80 people and we add more every year. I now see the card almost as an event. A way to connect with all the people we can’t see or talk to over the year, but that we know and care about. Our signature seems to have been sealed by the non-traditional way of doing it that was forced upon us that first year, but luckily enough, has turned into to something really wonderful.
If you want to try printing holiday cards of your own here are a few tips:
1. Find a printer. We use someone based in LA and they print for designers everywhere. Because Xan’s an architect he was able to create a business account, which gives us even better deals. I think most of these places have a pretty loose definition of “designer” and you could probably create an account easily.
2. Choose your photo. This is probably the hardest part for us. It’s a reminder every year to take more photos! A few things to think about when choosing a photo: negative space – that’s likely where your design will go so you want to be sure there’s some available; when it was taken – to me it’s important to have something moderately recent to watch the evolution of ourselves; quality – make sure the quality of the picture(s) will lend itself to being printed in a larger format.
3. Think about your timeline. It takes time for the printer to actually get the cards printed and then there’s the shipping time. Don’t forget the time it takes to address, stamp, and stuff. Lastly, the mailing time. Start with the day you want your cards to arrive and work backward from there to figure out when you need to start designing.
4. Collect addresses. We keep the addresses of everyone in a Google doc that can easily be updated by either Xan or I. Close to the time of mailing we go through it and see if there’s anyone we think may have moved and if so we reach out to them and get an updated address.
I have very limited skills in the adobe creative suite. Luckily, Xan is pretty adept with it. So, I usually hand draw some ideas, talk through them with Xan, and then he translates them to the computer. We’re limited by the boundaries of our own skills. However, for us, the price, quality, and control we get over the cards far outweighs the design we could get if we went with something pre-made.
Long story short, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. The way everyone else is doing something may not be the best way for you!
Our very first card! Front and then back.
2015 card, front and back.
Our most recent card, front and then back.