Tips and Tricks to Make your own Christmas Card

This is a sponsored post and giveaway in partnership with Nakturnal.

Every year I make our own Christmas Card with family pictures. For the past two years I have been entrusted with doing the same for my parents’ Christmas Card (pressure, I know). Sometimes I use our own pictures taken throughout the year, and this has mixed results. It certainly does the trick, but I recently came across a few sites that give me some new ideas to make your own Christmas Card. I’ll have to implement some of these ideas for next year!

Plan your Outfits

I am starting with the clothes because of our Christmas card picture from last year. It looks nice, right? My talented sister in law took pictures for us and did a nice job.

Go Mama O 2015 pic.png

2016 Christmas Card picture: Daddy O., Big Sister, Mama O., Little Brother.

But THEN a family member pointed out that it looked like my legs really belonged to Daddy O., and I can see that since the color of my pants match his sweater. Oops. I guess that it does look a bit weird.  Maybe I should have used a black and white image instead. All in all, everyone is smiling, so I am okay with it. For next time, I will plan outfits a bit better!

One year I really want to have matching outfits or pajamas with my entire family. Daddy O. is not yet convinced of this plan. Maybe we could go with some family ugly sweaters, like I saw from Target on Pinterest. With a Star Wars theme, I may be able to talk my entire family into it.

Ugly Sweater from Target.com

Family Star Wars Ugly Sweaters, what could be better attire for a Christmas card?

Brush up on Photography Skills

We haven’t planned well enough in advance to have professional photos taken, but I always drool over the professional pictures that are featured on the beautiful holiday card sites. How cute is this picture below? I also love the gold foil.

confetti-branches-kate-spade-christmas-card-Paperless Post

I love the adorable grin and nose wrinkle in this photo card.

signs-of-joy-pei-design Christmas Card Paperless Post

If you’re a DIY photographer, check out this post on Making Lemonade called “Tips for Amazing Holiday Photos.” I definitely pinned it, as it has so many links and ideas to try.

This infographic from Skyes Cottages reminds me a lot of my high school photography classes and is another excellent resource.

Tell a Story

While we went with pictures from this past year, I found a card that told a story that fit a “Year in Review” theme.   I included the pictures below from our family trip to Arizona and Big Sister’s big accomplishment: riding her bike without training wheels!

I love these two pictures from this year, as they tell a story about fun things that we did together as a family. Pictures like this are ideal for holiday cards. A year in review card, like this one below, is a great way to combine a family photo with more text than other photo cards, which is a nice hybrid between just a greeting and a full fledged newsletter.

Year in Review holiday photo-card -Paperless Post

I also like this Calm and Bright Card for something that I could have done with a picture from vacation.

calm-and-bright-card-the-indigo-bunting photo card Paperless Post

I think this is another nice choice for a vacation photo that you have on hand, but just set to black and white. It looks very glam with the gold foil!

konfetti-gold-card-kelly-wearstler Photo Card Paperless Post

How to Save or Display Holiday Cards

With all of the work that goes into making Christmas cards, you should find a nice way to display them during the holidays. Currently I place the cards that we receive in a festive looking basket, but I am thinking of trying a new way to display cards after finding this pin on Pinterest from Hip2Save.

how-to-display-holiday-cards-hip2save

She has covered canvas with ribbon to display cards in her picture above and shares a lot of other cool ideas from around the blogosphere – hanging them from a banister, attaching ribbons to kitchen cabinets and clipping cards on with a clothespin, and more.

I really like the idea of hole punching all of your photo cards from each year, and putting them on binder rings, as blogger Oh Louise does. Aren’t they cute?

oh-louise-how-to-make-christmas-card-books

She gives step by step instructions on her blog post.

Now that we’ve talked about outfit planning, photo composition and selection tips, shared some great holiday card options, and gave a few display ideas, it’s your turn:

What are YOUR Favorite Ideas for Making your own Christmas Cards?

What did you think of these tips and ideas for making your own Christmas cards? What will you try for sure? Your comments on this post will enter you in my giveaway!

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Coins will be awarded in January, giving you the perfect way to send New Year’s greetings in case you didn’t have time to make your own Christmas card.  There are also many gorgeous other print or online card options from a wide variety of designers. Check them out!

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The winner will be selected December 22, 2016 via Rafflecopter. Additional terms and conditions can be viewed in the entry form. Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received compensation in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

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Choosing our Holiday Card

I wrote about our holiday photo card in a few other posts already. I found a new website with some excellent card options called Minted.  In that first post back in October, I chose a few of my favorite cards….or so I thought.

Later that week I lamented that taking good pictures of my kids is a seemingly impossible feat. You can see my attempts here.

At big sister’s birthday party, we decided to take some more family pictures at a decidedly BAD time – at the end of the party. Here’s what we ended up with:

My kids' idea of a good picture.

This is my kids’ idea of a great picture!

It is kind of funny because it captures the energy and excitement of a three and five year old.  It also looks like I have a tail because I’m sitting on my food.  I don’t strive for perfection in my holiday photo card…just a few fun pictures that show our smiling faces will do fine in sending some holiday cheer to loved ones.

Initially these two card were my clear favorites.

When I spent some time on Minted’s site dropping in images, they just didn’t work well in the different sized fragments of the tree or heart.  When I showed Daddy O., he commented, “Why are you sending a broken heart Christmas card?” Hmm…I hadn’t looked at it that way.  These sample cards use similar pictures, all taken at once. I didn’t have such pictures at my disposal, so I needed a plan B.

In mixing different pictures taken throughout the year, another card format would work better for my family. Several photo slots, interesting font style, and color were some of my requirements. Without further ado, here is our card style:

Minted Holiday Collage Photo Card

A card with multiple pictures may work best for our family.

I ordered the cards and opted to have them delivered faster – without a printed proof.  I already received them and I loved how they were packaged with a handwritten note.

Thanks Tammy! The cards look great!

Thanks Tammy! The cards look great!

Do you have your holiday cards all set for this year? What type of format do you typically use? What other photo gifts do you create for family?  Personally I love creating cards and calendars every year. It gives me a chance to look back through pictures, remember many fun times, and count our many blessings.

Have a great week and lovely Thanksgiving!

Taking Good Pictures of your Kids – An Impossible Feat?

As I mentioned in my post on Monday, I am searching for a good picture of my kids and family to use for our annual holiday photo card.  It was a beautiful fall day with such colorful leaves all around our neighborhood, so I tried snapping a few pictures on a walk with my kids. Here’s how I did with my camera phone:

my photo shoot yesterday

Trying to get two kids smiling at the same time, while looking at the camera is NO small feat.

My daughter is generally more cooperative for taking pictures, but we’ve done so many “funny face” shots that EVERY time I take a picture now, there has to be at least one funny one.

My son was making nearly EVERY picture a funny face one.  And yes, dear 3 year old boy, they are funny.  Maybe, just maybe, a funny face shot will make it into our Christmas card.

Here are some other picture options. Which ones are your favorites?

Someday I would like to have professional pictures taken, but my husband is still a bit put-off by the idea after one bad experience. The photographer took pictures of us in a lovely setting – along the lakefront and in front of some trees. My daughter was almost 3 and my son just turned 1. Here was my own snapshot before the photo shoot started later than our scheduled time thanks to the photographer’s tardiness.

my snapshots before our professional photo shoot

2 years ago – my own snapshots before our professional photography shoot

Brilliant blue sky, aqua blue shimmering lake, sand, we could check every box in the “Ideal Setting” category.  And take pictures our photographer did! We had THOUSANDS of options to review. It was overwhelming and time consuming at his home (aka not the most convenient for us, being parent of two kids under age 3). The family pictures of all four of us were just weird-looking too.  We looked so posed and stiff – not at all our style. None of them were that great.

There were SO many good ones of our daughter.  She was running, holding flowers, smiling….just being her cute, almost three year old self.

Our son was another story. He was just little, and it was dinnertime (though we had snacks before), and we barely got a smile out of him.  We found one picture that we liked of him.

We had “won” the gift certificate for the photographer’s services as part of our church’s silent auction.  Somehow, according to his crazy pricing, we did not receive much in way of print-credit.  He had this complex pricing matrix and wanted us to join his family plan, so there would be numerous photo sessions through the years. Given that we hated the family pictures, it was NOT for us.  We finally ended up buying two 8×10 portraits, one of each child, and paid a hundred+ for them. They are now hanging in our living room, where they shall be forever & ever. Amen.

Whenever I mention the idea of getting professional pictures taken to Daddy O., he bristles in reply, thinking of our bad experience. I guess I have to resort to my photo archives or quick snap my own pictures for this year’s card anyway.  Hopefully these photo card options can make my pictures look good!

Have you ever been disappointed by professional photographers? How do you take  pictures for holiday cards?

My Weapon Against Holiday Busyness – Advance Planning!

As I have mentioned before, I am type-A leaning, so I value efficiency, organization, and planning. With my daughter in 4 year old kindergarten, our lives have certainly adopted a quicker pace week in and week out.  To stay ahead and not get overwhelmed, I always try to think ahead. I’m that person buying Christmas presents in July, picking up birthday party favors weeks in advance, and recording important dates and to-do’s in my planner.

My weapon against holiday busyness IS simple – Advance Planning!

As many of you have noticed, the holidays are ALREADY upon us. I’ve seen a mix of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in stores lately.  YIKES! I do have a few gifts in hand, so I don’t expect to have a hectic, last-minute shopping season, which is SO not my style. Daddy O., on the other hand, is a different story, but that’s his deal!

Similarly, I often start looking at holiday card options this time of year.  I enjoy trying to find a good family picture to share in our annual holiday card. I love the old-fashioned tradition of sending and receiving cards.  It’s something that social media just can’t replace.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a new holiday card source this year.  It’s a site called Minted. What I love is that it is an independent design community, so think small, talented, independent designers who have their works voted on and sold through Minted. This means my card won’t be like every other one I receive.  It will be unique!

This quick video is a cool intro to Minted.  Many moms (either working or staying at home) are also designers, pursuing their passion and submitting their work to the design challenges on Minted.  This community of designers (similar to the blogosphere) delivers beautiful, award winning design.

Moms pursuing their passions – hmm…sounds familiar. And yes, I’d like to support that community!  I bought my daughter’s Halloween costume from Etsy (an Elsa dress), and it seems that Minted is a sort of Etsy of cards, art, and decor.

The number of choices is a bit overwhelming, but I managed to find a few favorites.

Minted Watercolor Bunting Holiday Card

Love this Watercolor Bunting at the top of the card! There is also a gold foil, shiny option.

Being a proud Sconnie, or Wisconsin native, I like the idea of this card, but I don’t like that Wisconsin was covered up.  Daddy O. and I did, however, once call Pittsburgh home.  This COULD have been our card then when it was just the two of us! There is also a West Coast version of this card, but I think Wisconsin was covered up in that one too.  Bummer – this option is not for us.

Minted Holiday Map Holiday Card

Fun way to show off where you live in a holiday card.

I was drawn to the fun lettering on these cards.

I am not sure what family pictures I have to include in this year’s card, so I may have to get creative with multiple photos on one card.  Here were some multiple photo options that caught my eye:

Minted Holiday Collage Photo Card

A card with multiple pictures may work best for our family.

My family isn’t too big on super heros, but I someday we may be.  When that is the case, we’ll use a card like this:

Minted Comic Book Holiday Card

You could really have fun with this card’s comic book style!

Certainly professional photographers’ pictures are far superior to my own snapshots, and I’m having a little picture envy just looking at all these lovely cards used on the site.  In the spirit of advance planning, here are some tips on how to get a great family picture for holiday cards by Heather Lee on Julep. She recommends having pictures taken now and having a photo card in mind, so the photographer can compose the shot correctly.  Good tips!

For our own card, I’ll try my best to snap some good pictures within the next few weeks or use what we have.  I think these two cards are my top holiday card contenders:

Next step – playing on Minted with some of these cards and my pictures.  Stay tuned to see which pictures and what card I choose!

This was a sponsored post, but the opinions expressed were my own. Photography by Minted.