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Today’s Hint: A Creative & Frugal Photo Holiday Card Strategy

Sending photo holiday greetings isn’t cheap.

This season, I spent roughly $160 (not counting stamps) on about 100 holiday cards from Tiny Prints. The cards showcase two photos of our family and a holiday greeting – and I didn’t opt for extras like rounded corners and personalized envelopes that would have added even more to our bill.*

Next year, however, I may employ a more creative – and more frugal — approach to personalized photo holiday cards that I just learned about and that is today’s hint. (And if sending greeting cards for this holiday season is still on your 2013 or early 2014 to-do list, this hint is for you).

IMG_3002The strategy: Write your holiday greeting (including a “from” note) on something (think a chalkboard, easel, building, poster board, etc.) or hold letters or an old greeting card with the message, and have a photo of your family taken next to the greeting. Then, all you need to do for you holiday cards is order multiple copies of the photo, stick them in some envelopes and send them out.

The cost per photo print is generally much cheaper than the cost per personalized photo holiday card. At Shutterfly, for instance, before any discounts, a 4×6 print costs 15 cents and a 5×7 costs 99 cents, while each of the Tiny Prints cards I bought was $1.59.

Think of the approach in today’s hint as a holiday and whole family twist on baby’s first year photos, where you write out the age of your baby on something each month and snap a commemorative photo. In fact, the friend who inspired this idea (she posted a photo on Facebook of her family standing next to a red building with the words “Merry Christmas” written on it) is the same one who cleverly used alphabet blocks to mark her baby’s first year in photos.

Looking for some examples of this approach? Blogger Harvard Homemaker includes a number of examples (like this one) in her roundup of “100 photos to inspire your holiday cards.” Meanwhile, here are ones of kids holding letters spelling holiday cheers from Jamilia Jean Photography and from Gralyne Watkins, as well as an example from Ron Putnam Photography of the chalkboard approach.

To be sure, there are other frugal ways to send out personalized holiday photo cards. You can search around for the best discount available on sites like Tiny Prints, and make sure to do some due diligence to make sure the deal you find is really a good one. For instance, I used a 20% off code I had for Tiny Prints only to find out that my sister had found a 40% off discount. Meanwhile, in a nice roundup of cheap and creative holiday card options, Mary Hiers, at Mint.com’s MintLife blog, describes how to make photo post cards using Vistaprint.com, an option that costs less than customized photo cards and saves on envelopes and stamps too (this option would work great with the greeting-in-the-photo approach).

Or if you can make your own photo collage, photocopy it and mail out the copies, like Asha Dornfest of the site Parent Hacks cleverly did one year.

What are your tips for making sending holiday cards easier and cheaper (beyond skipping the tradition)?

*Love this hack from Whitney Moss over at Rookie Moms on how to opt for rounded corners without paying extra: “clip off your own corners with a handy scrapbooking tool.” 

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