Christmas lights have gone on display at my local big box store, making the holiday season fair game. It's always out there early and people complain, but that doesn't stop the hordes from buying gifts or thinking about holiday menus. This is clear by the amount of holiday-related content on Pinterest, making it pretty much a scientific fact that we like to get a jump on the holidays. People don't want to zoom past the Fall, but they're eager to look ahead to the fun to come too. This is my favorite time of year. I love the change from hot to cool weather (yet to happen here), the crispness of the cool air (also, coming soon?), the smell of fireplaces in the distance, and knowing that the big three - Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas - are soon to come. It's no coincidence that my photographer friends have been booked for weeks as families pose for the perfect photo to adorn their holiday cards.
Some people (my husband used to be one of them) think of a holiday card as just that, a card, a social obligation, but they are really little works of art that reflect you. Roll your eyes all you want. I'm not saying your family is a brand and you are the marketing exec in charge of the account...but you kinda are.
How to Pick the Card Size Right for You
First, go through your photos for the year and pick out favorites and the ones that best define your year. Everyone loves to see a photo, unless it comes from a certain relative of mine who uses pictures from about 10 years ago before old age kicked in. To that person I say: we are all on to you! For the rest of us, sometimes that means a crying, full freak out tantrum picture. These don't have to be color coordinated, perfect smile goodness. Natural photos are always best, and everyone will appreciate your inclusion of less than J.Crew catalog perfect photos. I am toying with the idea of using a photo of my kids' dirty feet after they return home from school, but it may be more frightening than entertaining. Last year I included a photo of my son standing next to a bathtub full of gum balls with a look in his eyes that says everything he was thinking. The problem was that his hair got somehow parted in front, making him look something like this:
Next, trim down the list. Pick the best of the best. Do they reflect what you want to communicate? Are they high enough quality for printing? Do any necessary editing or cropping. Once you have your picture or pictures, it's finally the fun part.
If you have one photo that you love more than all others, or if you have a cohesive theme, go with a flat card. This isn't a low quality, one-sided photo card that gets dinged up in the mail. I expect that as my kids get older and less inclined to let me take their photos (bribes only go so far), we may use a flat card instead. The flat cards have a lot going for them, including price and ease of display.
If you have a few photos and you like the feel and look of a traditional folded card, go for it. They have tons of personality, they provide plenty of room inside for a note, and they stand up on their own, which is how people display their holiday cards. Many of Tiny Print's flat cards can be ordered as folded cards as well, so don't worry about falling in love with a design for fear that you can't use it.
If you have multiple photos, especially multiple large photos, and if you want to show off some great picks, or create something unique, the tri-fold is the winner.
I couldn't find one picture that said everything I wanted in a holiday card last year. I wanted to tell the story of the year, through pictures and text, but I couldn't with a standard one or two photo card. I put in a lot of photos - 12 in all - plus text reporting what the kids were up to, what we did as a family, and ending with well wishes for the season. Nearly a year later, I still love that card. My mom would call asking me to send one to this or that friend, one of whom kept it on her refrigerator beyond the holidays despite the fact that I haven't seen her in over 15 years and she's never met my kids. A friend of mine contacted me after receiving the card to say that she felt she caught up with us through the card, which was exactly my intent.
I've picked out some favorite tri-folds for this year, although many of these work best for a few, larger photos. Since I may have a high number of smaller photos, I may go with one of these. After I go through the past few months of my photos to pick out ones that represent the year, then I'll know which card to pick. Last year I fell in love with a tri-fold featuring a few bigger photos, but when I plugged my pictures in, it didn't work. I ended up changing to a different card and photo layout that worked beautifully. Even though I'd ruled the card out before, once I got my pictures in, the colors matched so well that they looked specifically tailored for each other.
Kevin said he knew I'd never be able to go back to a standard card again, but that's not true because I love the beautiful simplicity of flat cards just as much. My biggest problem is that I'm indecisive.
Disclosure: Tiny Prints is giving me 50 free cards in exchange for my holiday card review. I've been a huge fan of Tiny Prints for years, well before I was ever given a free card. Tiny Prints quality is high and their customer service is top notch. I am a paying Tiny Prints customer outside of the free holiday cards.