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Ask The Readers: What’s The Best Way to Make Your Own Christmas Cards?

It’s that holiday cheer time of year again and we’re curious how you go about creating and sending your holiday missives. Jump into the comments to share your card creation tips and tricks.

Whether you hand craft your Christmas cards, digitally render and deliver your Kwanzaa cards, or just print off a family picture as a postcard and slap a stamp on it, we want to hear all about your holiday card creation tips and tricks. Whether your solutions are analog, digital, or a combination of the two–QR code Christmas cards anyone?–sound off in the comments to share how you craft and deliver your holiday cards.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/14/11

Comments (33)

  1. YB

    I love using e-card from Hallmarks. They are relatively cheap.

  2. Merlin

    I used to draw them myself by hand. Everybody got a unique card because I allways put something on it that had to do with the person it was addressed to.
    Now I don’t have that much time anymore, so I use a digital photo of the family and throw that in PaintShopPro to see if something decent can be made out of it. ;)

  3. brodiemac

    Oops, old link. You want this one: http://www.etsy.com/shop/prettypeardesigns

  4. jcard21

    I use simple HTML to create digital greeting cards (Thank You Cards, Christmas Cards, Birthday Cards): image on the left, my note on the right; 50%/50% split; nice simple borders; colored text.

    Then I take a screen print, and email the *.jpg eCard.

    The nice benefit of doing it this way is I have a standard HTML template. I can change the picture on the left, then just change the text on the right. Simple!

    PS: for a couple of years, I sent both digital and physical cards so people could get used to receiving the digital versions. Now I just email the digital greeting cards.

  5. Frikitiki

    Living in Hawaii when most of my friends and family are in the New England area, I started out finding Hawaii based cards and doctoring them, usually by glueing sand (regular sand from Waikiki Beach or black sand from the Big Island) to the card and send them out. Through a friend saying it would be “cheaper” to make, I started making cards from scratch. I’ve used rubber stamp designs, I’ve done origami aloha shirt and muu muu designs, I’ve done pop ups, a calendar, used cut and cropped photos, used the state quarter when it came out and glued on beads as part of the design. Sometimes the card is landscape or portrait folded and sometimes just a 1/4 sheet postcard design. Many years I’ve used the computer to help design the card with the layout and where folds or cuts should be. When you calculate the total cost of making the card including my time, they are WAY more expensive than if I had purchased cards.

    This year’s card was almost 100% computer based using Adobe Illustrator with a landscape fold, 4 panels of a cartoon on the front in black and white and a color drawing on the inside. The back had lyrics to a song with a rubber stamp and hand signature showing the card came from me. I have to do that now to let people know that I design and hand make each card putting my effort into it after my origami card people thought I bought them. (the first batch of matching shirt and muu muu took an hour to fold but got down to 12 minutes a set at the end not including the other parts of the card so you can understand why I was upset when people asked where I purchased them.) I also decorate the envelope with either stickers or rubber stamped images.

    Inside each card I write out Christmas and the year and do a personal message to the individual or family. I do about 60 cards a year.

    Each year the card is different. I’ve been told that my card is the card they really look forward to receiving and the one they hold onto after the holidays are over. I shy away from ecards because the perceived value is a lot cheaper and I want to make the effort for the personal hands on touch as this might be the only communication for the year in some cases.

  6. Int0XeD

    The Wife lol

  7. Nick

    Publisher :D
    I do all the designs myself.

  8. Dark Reality

    My mother has been doing them for years, and everybody likes her cards. Here’s what you do:

    First, hit up a few art galleries. There are a couple in the Coddingtown mall in Santa Rosa, CA that work for our purpose. Coddingtown isn’t a hip mall, it’s a mall aimed at yuppies. Your mileage will definitely vary. Anyway, the two galleries she hits up have these magazines from which you can order fine art. She grabs a few of each (with permission, they don’t care).

    Your next stop is your local stationery store. My mother uses construction paper, I’m not sure what that “weighs”. It’s not as firm as card stock, but it’s not your regular printer paper, either. You know? Construction paper? But only white. You can go with other light colors if you prefer, such as yellow, but my mother uses white exclusively.

    Now for some fun with scissors. You go through your magazines and cut out the pictures you want. You’re a gamer and you’re giving a gamer a card? Go ahead and do this with a Game Informer or something. The magazine doesn’t matter, but for older relatives, stick to the art magazines. A picture doesn’t have to be festive to be festive. A deer standing in snow is festive, even if the artist was painting for a hunter. Of course, my mother’s all about nature and Indians (I mean Native American) art. Again, you go with what you want. If you can find a Thomas Kinkaide catalog, you’re good to go. All of his stuff is amazing.

    Once you have a pile of cut-outs, and you can do this in advance (she has a cigar box, she just cuts them in her spare time, year-round, and puts ‘em in the box), take a piece of construction paper, and cut a piece twice long-ways or short-ways (your choice!) the size of the piece, allowing 1cm or 1/2″ around. Fold paper in half, glue the cutout centered on the front, and trademark the back (optional; she uses her initials signed a certain way), and you can do this in bulk too and store the cards. So now you have a bunch of cards made from magazine cutouts. It sounds trashy, maybe, until you try it, it’s really nice. All my cards come like this. It’s awesome. And cheap. And very personal.

  9. JT

    the absolute BEST way is to not celebrate Christmas and your friends know you do not.

    For me, NO stress, NO commitments, NO expenses, NO credit card debt to be paid off next year…just a couple of short weeks and a month (and a half now) of avoiding xmas songs on the radio

  10. grognard

    Hand your kids some paper, scissors, and crayons.

  11. Ken

    JT Sounds like a fun person… I have used Walmart and CVS with really good results. Design online, buy, pickup and send out…

  12. Dave

    What a selfish prick you are JT.

  13. Gin314

    Try Wordle.com. It’s a great way to really personalize a card. Just type in a bunch of text pertinent to your recipient and voila! You can control background, color, etc. I downloaded a chart of HTML colors so I could have greater control. I copied and pasted into my card document.

  14. Glorya Nevius

    I have not bought a card of any kind for years. My fav way to make my cards, be it Christmas or any other occasion to commemorate, is to use a Cricut machine. Design a cutout on your computer, hit cut, and the machine will take your paper and cut the exact image you requested. Easy to knock out 60 cards!

  15. starman2110

    JT sounds a bit like my brother a real saddo who does not give any presents or cards to anyone.

  16. Steve

    Hallmark Card Studio Deluxe…co$ts a few bucks, but saves me a ton as my wife no longer hangs out at the expen$ive Hallmark Card store.

    Next best, spend $12 and sign up with Jacquie Lawson. Great cards although a little limited.

  17. Ruthie

    I like the way you think JT!

  18. Matt

    Cards app by Apple.

  19. Fat Frank the Tank

    I use Face Off Max, PhotoFiltre, LazPaint, TinyPic, FotoSkether and good old MS Word,
    Face Off Max is super easy for over laying any image into another image but not free,
    PhotoFiltre is good for image size, canvas size and rotating,
    LazPaint is the best I’ve found for inserting text,
    TinyPic is for making images the correct resolution for e-mailing but the interface may be confusing for a novice,
    I use FotoSkecther to convert my final rendering into a pencil sketch so I don’t waste ink getting the print setting correct,
    In MS Word move the margin bars all the way and insert an image (usually rotated 90 degrees CCW) you may have to copy and paste the image in because MS Word doesn’t seem to like importing an image that has modified by so many programs,
    And hey, be easy on JT, he has the right to his beliefs, I tell everyone have me over for dinner or give me a card, keep your presents …. they usually give me Avon deodorant anyway,

  20. Brent

    I usually do both printed AND an animated Flash card that breaks several copyrights. The printed cards, I work in Photoshop, ujsing pictures of our kids in surreal surroudnings (they’ve been swinging from ornaments on the tree, wrapping giant packages, inside stockings, etc.

    The Flash cards are really fun… but time consuming. I’ve taken stills from A Christmas Story and made them into a scene with interactive hotspots, a cheesy hand-drawn cartoon with interactive options (spiking hte egg-nog, deocrating the tree, turning on the music) and even an animation of the kids telling a story/singing, done with their own drawings.

    This year has totally sucked, and I simply have no time. It’s now Dec. 14th, and I am probably going to do no animated piece… unless I can seriously cut some corners!

  21. Bob Yingst

    I use Photoshop, make up my own card and then get it printed by my local lab.

  22. StevenTorrey

    Download a pretty picture. Print on heavy duty card stock paper the size of a normal postcard.
    On the other side, write “Merry Christmas, Happy New Year 2012. Love, Steven.” Stamp, address, send by snail mail. Mission accomplished. And thank silently Titian for “Adoration of the Magi.”

  23. Atl

    JT has it right!

    But in order to contribute meaningfully to the conversation, I’d say that using GIMP is the best way to go. As a web designer, I know that there is nothing more moving than a custom look and feel. Yes…feel. Give your cards some texture. It’s not just for babies! Everyone has nerve cells in their hands. You could glue on some shreds of paper to complete a pictorial dress, for example.

    And instead of sending a picture of you, your wife/hubby and kids, and the family pet, all posed with half-assed fake smiles, try something different. Please!

    Part of me thinks that the whole concept is exceedingly egotistical. But who am I to judge? Happy Holidays! ;)

  24. Roma

    I usually make cards customized for the people I’m closest to, and then send out eCards to the people who I’m not so close to. Making a bunch of different cards for the people I care about is loads of fun and a great break from a hectic schedule. Usually I use up a whole lot of glue, tape, markers, and paper though haha. :) My friends and family really appreciate the time and effort put into them, and it’s a really nice feeling to have them enjoy what I’ve made for them.

  25. Atl

    Awesome sentiment Roma! I retract my earlier statements. :)

  26. Zakariah

    We just buy them, but a good way is use Windows 7′s MS Paint

  27. bobgrosh

    Save a brown paper bag from the grocery store, preferably one with the store logo on it.
    With a black felt tip pen write a poem near the store logo. Make up yer own or use this one;

    “Money’s tight and times are hard,
    here’s your damn old Christmas card.”

    Roughly tear it out and fold, secure with duct tape.

    Mail it. :^D

  28. Connie t

    I use a program you can download called My Card Maker. It is very inexpensive and very simple to use and you can use your own photos or use the templates on the program. I send out cards every year depicting a spider and or web on the cover from my own photos with the Christmas Spider Legend inside. I’ve been doing this for years and I also have a lot of spider ornaments on my tree.

  29. bangorfc

    I use Greeting Card Factory Deluxe by Nova Development.
    Not just Christmas but all cards,envelopes and Labels.etc. Have done for many years easy to personalize with photos and images.

  30. Janice

    My favorite word is “simplify.” Years ago I printed up a Christmas Card list and saved to a folder. In November, just go to the local Dollar Tree. They have great-looking cards for 50 cents each. Any local names on the list, get hand-delivered. If you have a long list, you need to think ahead and order by the box on the net, preferably in the summer. If you dutifully send cards to ol’ friend Joe but he never reciprocates, cross him off. Ecards are nice for mass mailing, like for employees, but to family, it’s tacky. Another thing to keep in mind is that these cards are all thrown out or deleted by new years (even the pretty hand-made ones). Xmas cards is a personal choice based on emotions and the pocketbook. Pop quiz–how many do you saved to your scrapbook?

  31. Zepe

    My wife makes lovely cards from scratch. She comes up with a design in her head then makes prototypes of her ideas. Once she decides on what she wants to so she gathers all the material she’ll need and cuts all the stock to size and starts assembly.

    She uses a whole galaxy of techniques and materials, appliques, glitter, stamps, metallic thread and paper, you name it, but not the computer. She finds it works better to work from prototypes and they turn out great. She typically shies away from the traditional red and green in fact a couple of years ago she made some that were brown tones. When she started then I thought they were going to be bad, but I was very very wrong. Her cards are generally saved by those who she gives them to. They are not sent to everyone just family and close friends.

  32. Bully

    I use publisher (saved as a jpg) have a template set up which I use every year, I just update the pic of the kids with Santa, all my family love the photo cards with a magnet on the back so they can put it on there fridge.

  33. Bobro

    what the hell is this christmas you are all talking about… and what purpose do these cards server?

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