photo holiday card shopping recommendations


The calendar flip from October to November is a pretty intense one, don't you think? The Halloween candy goes on clearance and then, poof! Everything is red and green. If you're like me, I feel better if I get a jump on all things holiday to ensure I am not left scrambling at the last minute. So this past weekend I poured over holiday card designs online and finally settled on one. At the risk of spoiling the surprise should you be on my mailing list, I'm not going to post *the one* but I do want to share my process in case you are still searching for the perfect design.

1. Choose your favorite photo(s) first and THEN look at the available designs. 
There have been so many times I've fallen in love with a horizontal design but have a favorite vertical image to work with. Frustrating! I personally prefer an image where you can clearly see the faces of the people featured in the image. Sure, a funky angle or far back perspective is cool for your walls or a gift for someone, but I like to keep it simple for the sake of the holiday card tradition. Grandparents and toddlers and everyone in between will be the recipient of our cards and I want to be sure they'll all know who it came from and that they can see how much the kids have changed since last year's mailing.

2. Be aware of this year's trends.
Last year was calligraphy, the year before was foil, the year before was die cut, etc. Right now I'd say brush lettering is the newest trend, but foil is still holding steady (and more widely available). I keep a binder of our holiday cards from years past and love looking through how things have changed over the years. But maybe that's just the paper nerd in me.

3. What's your message?
Each New Year's, we adopt a word as our theme for the year ahead. Hope, joy, peace, prosperity, connection, family, adventure, etc. I like letting that lead our holiday card design as it really helps narrow down our choices. For instance, this year we are enrolled in a year-long parenting course that focuses on appreciating, joy and connection. It's trickled over to our everyday in all areas (a beautiful thing!). My eyes were peeled for those phrases in holiday card designs (and I tend to stay away from a straight-up Merry Christmas anyway as I send to people of all faiths). Fortunately, the text of many card designs is customizable so I could tweak that if needed.

4. Where to shop:
If not going a custom route at your local paper store, our favorite online retailers are (click the name to be taken to the website):

Upload your image and see it previewed in ALL of their designs in their Find It Fast feature. SO helpful for seeing how the graphic will overlay your image, if colors will match, if it's too fun/formal or just right. They even have the ability to include your photographer's name on the back of the card (we love this – wink, wink). Even sweeter, they will add a return address and recipient address to your envelopes at no extra charge.

Artifact Uprising
Just featured on Oprah's Favorite Things for 2015, the movement behind this young company is getting images off your digital devices into your life to enjoy. They have an impeccable aesthetic, a host of beautiful paper products (printed on recycled paper with kraft paper envelopes) and an active online community. Want to be inspired? Be sure to follow them on Instagram.

Pinhole Press
Under the umbrella of Mohawk Paper, we've been fans of this company since their arrival in the consumer space. Their simple designs and easy ordering interface make this a no-fuss option for online shopping (and photo books for the grands, too!).

Paper Culture
Paper Culture's cards are made from post-consumer recycled products AND they plant a tree for every order (which you get to dedicate!). They will add your photographer's name and return and recipient addresses to your (kraft paper) envelopes as well. I was smitten with their social media designs. Sign of the times, right?

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