How To Order Photo Christmas Cards

Christmas cards ARE my favorite part of Christmas...besides celebrating the birth of Jesus, of course! i love sending them and i love receiving them! my dear friend Katie got married this year and reached out to me about selecting & designing her Christmas card. she would like to use one of her wedding photos which i think is perfect and exactly what we did for our card last year! she sent me a list of questions she had and i am so happy to answer them!
you need to ask yourself a few questions before you start the process. there is no right or wrong answer to these questions, it's totally your personal preference.
1. do you want to use a professional photographer {more expensive option} or just have a friend snap a photo of the family {less expensive option}?
2. do you want to print the cards using a photo machine at a convenient or grocery store {less expensive option} or would you like to use an online printing company {more expensive option}?

create a budget you might not think you need to create a budget for your Christmas cards but it is a very good idea. decide how much money you are wanting to spend. using the professional photographer & online printing company option can be a lot more expensive & depending on how many cards you need it can get VERY expensive. which brings me to my next point...

 make your list {...and check it twice} compile a list of people you'd like to send your card to. i type my list using an excel spreadsheet. i add everyone i've been in constant contact with throughout the year, new friends i've made, as well as lifelong family friends. these people usually include my parents friends who have watched me grow up & love getting a picture every year. not a lot of time is needed in acquiring peoples addresses. the first year you send your cards will be the most work since you may need to ask for a lot of addresses. a simple facebook message or text to each person letting them know i'd like their address for your Chrismas card list is perfect. you typically will send your cards to the same people each year {plus or minus a few} so once you've got that excel sheet typed up, it's so simple to update for the following year. i normally will send a facebook post asking friends and family who have moved since last year to message me their updated addresses, & again it's super simple to update once in the spreadsheet.

how soon do i take my photos? the entire timeline for your Christmas cards really depends on the answers to the first two questions at the top. i personally prefer to use a professional photographer for our photos, if we can afford it that year. in that case, you will need time to find a photographer you like. i found this years photographer in a local photography facebook group i am a part of. around the holidays, most photographers will run specials or mini sessions for a great price. once you have found one you like, send them a message letting them know you are considering booking them for your holiday session, ask them how many images you will be receiving and what is their turn-around time to getting those images back to you. that will give you a good indication on how soon you need to book your session. 

once i have my images, how soon do i order my card? i use the online printing company option so i typically will order my cards as soon as i receive my images from my photographer. the earlier you get your order in, the better. i like to mail my cards out the 1st or 2nd week of December so i order my cards sometime in November to be sure i get them in time. the closer to Christmas you place your order the more swapped the printing companies get and you risk not receiving them before Christmas. another great feature with ordering your cards through an online printing company is that most sites provide the option of uploading your card list & they will print all the addresses on the envelopes for FREE! such a nice perk & it saves you bunches of time not having to address them all by hand. 

how much time will i spend on this? the time you spend on your cards is really up to you. i really like a professional photograph & a quality card so i spend quit a bit of time on my cards. i typically will start the process in October and go step by step. start looking for your photographer then, book your session with them at the end of October. most professional photographers will get the images from a mini shoot {30 to 80 images} back to you no later than two weeks after you shoot. if they predict any longer than that, i say "find another photographer". once you have your images, start browsing online printing companies. some of the most common are Snapfish, Tinyprints, Minted & Shutterfly. the majority of your time will be selecting a template that complements your photograph{s}. once you have ordered your cards, you are good to go. relax and wait for them to arrive!

pros and cons of using different online printing companies i only have experience using Minted & Tinyprints. i was personally more impressed with Minted, not as impressed with Tintprints. there are definitely more pros than cons to using an online printing company. even if you order just the basic design, you are getting a quality card! definitely make sure you are using a quality image otherwise the photo may look blurry or not as crisp. that is another reason why i like using a professional photographer. i think the only con is the price. it can get expensive depending on how intricate of a design you choose & the number of cards you need printed.

tips from my friends

"I used Snapfish because the quality and options were better than the Walmart/Walgreens/CVS. And the price was not really that much more. It was definitely worth it. The soft/matte look is so dreamy and I knew that was something I wanted to incorporate in my family memories. Just not a huge fan of the high gloss finish. Just make note to make sure everything you have printed in the card is correct and your not leaving any names off it... Not like I'm talking from experience or anything!" - Libby

"I love ordering cards online because of the quality and I can put the message I want on them. I love the cards that let you include a paragraph or two so I don't have to do a Christmas letter. My advice is to really be sure if the number you need because they're kind of expensive. Also, shop around and watch for sales. There are several companies that give great discounts." - Lori

“Our cards were ordered online at they have 100's to choose from and the prices vary and are very affordable! You can have multiple picture options as well. When ordering your cards, don't over think it! There are so many options that it can be hard to choose the right card. I always start with my price, then move to the amount of pictures i want on the card, then the style. If you do this backwards and go for style first, you could break the bank on the beautiful card you fell in love with, when you should be shopping in a whooooooole different section. Christmas is a hard time to budget, but when you have a budget to stick to, sometimes it’s best not to know ALL the options.” - Lindsay of Lindsay Bee Creations

“Well, I actually had a lot of hiccups last year with ours. I designed them myself and then uploaded the completed design to Vistaprint so that I could do postcards (which you can't do if you print them at Walgreens, etc). I also prefer the paper options available through online printing companies. Unfortunately, the digital proof that vista print showed me showed the colors differently than when they arrived, and the actual cards had a font color that didn't show up and made it very hard to read so I ended up getting them free. I still thought the rest of the quality was excellent for the price, though, so I will probably use them again this year, just with a higher contrast font on my own design.” - Mckenna of Of Sea & Sundry
now you know how to order your photo Christmas cards! don't forget to add me to your mailing list, i would love to receive a card from you this Christmas! :) and if you have any other questions, please ask em in the comments below. i'd be happy to answer them. Christmas cards are probably my favorite part about the holidays... besides celebrating the birth of Jesus! He IS the reason for the season!

xoxo, kerri

***click on the Minted ad on the sidebar of my blog for a great discount on your holiday cards. Minted is where i go for all my photo card designing & printing needs!*** 

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