Monday, December 20, 2010

Custom Christmas Cards

I love Christmas cards. Love giving them, love receiving them. It seems to be the only time during the year we get real mail anymore, except for the cards and packages we get from Auntie J. This post is a little late for sending actual Christmas cards, but not too late if you want to send New Year's cards.

A few years ago I created my first Christmas card in photoshop and it took me about a week.  You have to be stubborn like a mule pretty determined to finish a project that tedious. To be fair, I had never worked in photoshop before and everything was labeled in what seemed like Latin, so I was teaching myself as I went along.

In the past I have made my cards 4x8 inches (300 dpi), because they fit in a standard envelope and that size just feels comfortable to me. Some years they are just one sided:

And sometimes, when I feel very ambitious, they have two sides:

The fun of a two-sided card is that it allows me to combine the photo card with a Christmas letter, because that is sort of how I blog: heavy on the pictures, light on the words. Usually when I do a two-sided card I mount both sides on a piece of cardstock, like a postcard. 

This year my scrapbook supplies were buried in the disaster that doubles as my office and there was no way I was making 50 hybrid cards by hand. 

That is where Costco came in. 

They have a lot of nice pre-made templates if you're short on time or don't know how to make your own, but I was pretty tickled to hear that they are also willing to print cards for those of us who like to blaze our own trail. 

Buried in their greeting card options is a little tab called "more" and at the very bottom of that page is a blank template. You can drag your own custom 6x7.5 jpeg image onto that blank template and print it at Costco at the very affordable price of $14.99 for 50 cards, plus envelopes. 

With that in mind, I cranked out a card in one evening using Photoshop (and some free digital scrap goodies from Shabby Princess and Jessica Sprague), uploaded it, and had my cards in hand the next day.

I decided to make things easy on myself this year and skipped the cardstock, simply attaching the two pages with a brad. 

Piece of cake. 

Overall I was pleased with the process.
I did run into a few minor hiccups, so here are my final thoughts on custom cards through Costco:
  • When I picked up my prints I was really disappointed with the color because it was significantly darker than what I saw on my computer. Costco was very willing to work with me and after lightening it on their end they reprinted the cards for free. It still wasn't perfect, but I determined that wasn't Costco's fault, it was mine because my monitor needed to be calibrated. That's a whole 'nother story that will bore you to tears so I'm not going into it in this post. 
  • Make sure they turn off "auto correction" before printing your cards.
  • Costco's cards are huge. I think I still prefer the 4x8 size just because it seems less ostentatious, but the price for their cards can't be beat. 50 cards for $14.99 plus envelopes! I would have paid significantly more than that printing 4x8's or 5x7's.
  •  I think this would be an awesome way to make custom invitations for an event. I'm hosting a baby shower in February and I am so excited to make up some adorable invitations, complete with a picture of sweet baby toes, directions, and all pertinent information, on a 6 x7.5 jpeg and have Costco print them for me. 

I have heard a lot of great things about Shutterfly cards, and I got several cute Christmas cards this year from people who used them. They are awesome if you don't want to spend the time making your own in Photoshop. I'm just posting this in case other digi scrappers would like to have a little more freedom in their card design. I also think Costco's prices are pretty competitive. 

Here are a few ideas I saw in the blogiverse: Becky Higgins has free template downloads made to Costco's size specifications (you just plug in your own photo), and Melissa's post talks about the different options at Shutterfly. My friend Heather decided to skip cards altogether and made a three-minute video slideshow on Animoto to recap her family's year, and Angela from Let's Talk About Boys started a blog just for her Christmas letter. All fun ideas! 

However you do it, whether choking on 44-cent postage to send love in the mail, or emailing a link to your nearest and dearest, take some time and recap what this year has been like for your family. You will be glad you did. 


  1. I love your card!! I love seeing how different people use what they love to bless others. It tells more about them and their personality that way. :)

  2. Thanks Kira for showing me more about how you created your card (which turned out really cute by the way) and for the link love:)! My to-do list has "start collecting great templates" on it thanks to you. . . .


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