The Ultimate Guide to Family Christmas Cards

I love sending out family Christmas cards every year. I think it's a fun tradition, and I love getting cards in return. I love seeing what other people are up to in their lives, how their family has grown, and just a little glimpse into their year. Likewise, I feel like with so many moves, and so many big and small things going on with our kids, I love to update people from our past lives and let them know how our family is doing, and almost catch up with them in a way. 

This year though, we had about 100 people to give Christmas cards to. As I was looking at making our cards and seeing the cost options all over the board, I really stretched myself to get creative and make this as much of a fun, but frugal experience as possible. In this guide I want to share with you how to take pictures, where to get your pictures printed, how to decide who gets a card, and what to do with your card, and the ones you get from other people when the holiday season is over! 


Step One: Take Family Pictures: There are a few ways you can go about doing this. You can either use a random family picture taken throughout the year (think: a fun family trip or outing that you all took together!) You can take your own family picture (I did a blog post a few years ago right here where I show you how I do my tripod, camera settings, and how I edit my own pictures!) Lastly, you can hire a professional photographer. This year we did mini sessions with Pure Light Photography. Mini sessions are a great option because you can get a 20 minute session with an amazing photographer at an awesome discount. And lets face it, your kids aren't going to last longer than 20 minutes anyways. 

Step Two: Print Some Christmas Cards: There are so many ways you can do this. You can upload your pictures to an online card store like Minted, or Shutterfly. This year, I found these options to be pretty expensive. After you make your card and pick the envelope, the options from what I could see were over a dollar per card, after a 40% off promo code. That was more than what I wanted to be spending, since that would make the cards alone for 100 people cost $100. 

I went on Instagram and crowdsourced from friends what they do, and I got a lot of good options. One friend mentioned that printing cards at places like Sam's Club and Costco were considerably cheaper. One friend mentioned that she bought a Groupon to get her cards printed and wound up getting some GORGEOUS cards for about $30. 

Then there is what I did, which I believe to be one of the cheapest option out there. A family Christmas letter. I used Snapfish to get 4x6 prints made of the picture we wanted to use, and they had a promo code for prints for a penny. I got 100 prints made, and after taxes and shipping, my 100 prints cost me $10. 

After that I went onto my computer and typed up a little letter about what our family did this year. I love this option because it gives such a personal touch, and gives real insight as to what happened that year. I wrote a small paragraph about each person in the family, and then folded the letters and put them into basic white envelopes. I paid $2.89 for 125 envelopes at Target for anyone interested. I also printed the letters on my home computer and didn't have to pay anything for that since I already had all the ink and paper that I needed. 

Next I needed to gather addresses. There are a few ways to do this. You can gather from your local school and church directories, you can crowdsource for addresses on Facebook, or simply text/call the person and ask. If you want to get it done fast and don't want to wait on people to respond to you, you can try looking them up on whitepages.com. That's where I got a ton of my addresses from, and it makes it faster since you're not waiting on people to get back to you. 

Once you have your addresses gathered, you can compile them into an excel spreadsheet and print off basic labels that way (I used these ones), or you can go to avery.com and design your own address labels and copy and paste your addresses onto the sheets, and then print them off that way. I chose this option and love how they turned out! I store all my addresses in an address book on Shutterfly.com, simply because that's who I printed cards with in the past, and then I just copied and pasted my addresses into the Avery.com templates. 

Step 3: Decide Who Gets A Card: First and foremost, send to family first. After that I went through all my Facebook friends and made a list of the people that I really admire, who I'm good friends with, and people who have made a positive impact on my life over the last several years. Once I had those people, then I went and compiled the addresses. 

Last night I was on the phone with my friend's mom and asked her how to determine who stays on the Christmas card list, and I loved what she had to say. She said that she takes her master list, and she sends a card to everyone for two years in a row. If two years go by and she doesn't get a card back from that person, then their off the list. It sounds mean, but at the rate Derek and I are going, our Christmas card list is going to get out of hand by the time we're 50, so it's a good way to keep in check who to send cards to. 

Step 4: What To Do With The Cards After Christmas: Growing up my Grandma always kept her cards taped up on the back of her apartment door. That's something that I've adopted in my home, and this year they're taped on our garage door in the kitchen. When the holiday is over though, what do you do with the cards?

In years past I've felt overwhelmed with what to do after the holiday season and so I threw them out. I feel so guilty and awful saying that, but I was so overwhelmed with figuring out what to do that it was just less stressful for me to do that. My friend's mom told me last night that she just gets a manila envelope and writes the year on the outside and sticks all the cards in there, and then in a box in her basement, and I love how easy that is. It keeps the cards organized and in their own space, but doesn't take a ton of brain power.

Another option that I picked up from my friend Janssen is to make a valentine's day garland out of the cards. She cuts the family pictures out into a heart, and then strings them together into a garland on her mantle, and then puts a little tag on it with the year, and stores the garlands in a box after Valentine's day is over. I thought that this was such a fun way to repurpose the cards for another holiday, and then save them for years down the road as well. 

When it comes to your own holiday cards, get a photo album and store each year inside the album. In 20 years it will be amazing to see how your family has grown and changed each year, and it will be a precious keepsake that your family will enjoy for generations. 

Alright. That is all I have to say about Christmas cards for the time being. If you have any other ideas, please share them in the comments below! 

8 comments

  1. Deciding who gets a card is always a challenge. I'm always so proud of my family, I want even the mailman to have a card! ha!

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  2. I really love this tradition when families do this. I grew up having to sign my name on millions of cards and it got old after awhile. Plus watching people throw the cards in the trash was really sad. But I seriously would have the hardest time picking out which picture to use. Maybe next year I will start a tradition with my husband of sending out cards.

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  3. I stopped sending out much in the way of cards once my daughter was older - we used to always do the photo ones before that though. I can't wait to start getting some from her with photos of my grandson in it.

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  4. The art of handmade holiday cards is a treasure for the creator and recipient alike. Something I don't get into but you have some great ideas.

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  5. handmade card is always the warmest to receive... Merry Xmas and happy new year... :)

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  6. That family garland idea for Valentines is really kind of a mini game changer for me! I never even thought of that, and I've always struggled with what to do with all the cards as well. I've kept them until I could keep them no more. What a cute way to repurpose!

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  7. I do really love making Christmas cards with a sweet letter to my twins and mom. That's my Christmas tradition every year. I love to create some unique Christmas cards that will love and treasure my love ones.

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  8. Family Christmas cards would be a nice tradition. It helps you share a family moment to people in your circle. It's also a good token for the holidays.

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