So you guys probably know by now how much I love the holidays. There is just extra sparkle everywhere, especially in the spirits of those around you. However, November/December can hit the pockets extra hard, especially for someone like me who LOVES to celebrate. Celebrations and acknowledgements usually equal expenses. When I was slightly younger I used to go for broke, literally. The holiday season would be amazing, but after, I would have nothing left in my BOA account (partially because of their exorbitant fees etc… but I digress). As I am getting older I am aiming to be a bit more responsible with my time, money and resources. Nevertheless, I still wanted to find ways to continue traditions I love and doing things that I believed added sparkle to the season for everyone.
So in my holidaze post I shared the idea of creating and maintaining traditions as a way to keep the feeling festive. One of my favorite traditions is sending Christmas greetings to everyone. In the past I’ve either purchased a bunch of Christmas cards or I’ve used a service like shutterfly.com to create personalized cards. Both of these techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. Buying cards usually kept it simple: I go in, buy them and write them out. Usually I’d have them in the mail (if I’m lucky) by the end of the week. However, as much as I tried to find unique cards that I felt represented me, they never felt quite personal enough. Shuttferly cards were super personal; I added my own pictures and wrote a message that came straight from my heart. However, all that personalization costs. What this ultimately ended up meaning is that I had to cut down the amount of people that received cards, which wasn’t fun at all either.
By now you’re probably thinking “what was your solution?” I’m getting to it guys! Let me say that this isn’t a “solution” so much as it is what works for me. In the end you have to decide what allocation of your time, money, resources works best for your family. While this method was perfect for me, for reasons I will get into, it may not work for you and you may opt for one of the options I mentioned above, or something completely different all together [Share! Share! Share!]. I chose to create my own holiday cards from scratch. Yes, I figured out/ worked on everything from the photoshoot, to the design of the Christmas cards and of course the addressing/ mailing of them.
Now for me, this was a huge but fun project. It mixed a couple of my interests together, so that’s why I took it on. I love taking pictures and photography in general, so that was easy to decide. Instead paying someone a couple hundred to do a photoshoot, I used my own equipment and got my sister to snap away after I set up the frame. Also, I used a lot of décor I already owned… as well as my mother’s backyard to keep it all really simple ;).
To decide on the look for the picture I clearly dove into the Pinterest black hole to get a couple ideas, which I considered fun as well. That is a hack I love! Instead of racking my brain to come up with a concept that I believe is completely and totally unique, that someone has probably still already done, I rely on the Pinterest community to share their wins and losses. I then adapt a concept to my family’s needs. Since our pup, BANE the English Bulldog (#BaneNeSmith), was a new addition to our family this year, he had to be featured. So I did search for Christmas cards featuring dogs to get some ideas. I found something I loved and made it my own. What was even more amazing is I was able to find a dress in my closet I had only worn once and feature it in this picture. The picture came out great, and it didn’t cost anything but a little bit of planning.
The card itself was a whole separate task. I started with a blank sheet in my “Pages” application on my Mac and created it from scratch. I knew general colors I wanted to incorporate and how I wanted the card to feel. It took a little over an hour, but it came out great. I find messing around with layouts super fun, I am a scrapbooker after all (lol), but if creating it from scratch isn’t for you there are tons of templates out there. You can Google to find some free ones, but there are also people out there (especially on Etsy.com) that sell templates for reasonable prices. All you have to do is purchase, download and personalize it to your liking. If messing around in Pages, Publisher or Illustrator isn’t for you, then this option will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Finally, I was going to print these all out myself; however, I wasn’t thrilled about that idea so I did a bit of research and found an amazing option that was super simple. I used Staples.com to print and ship them to me. In the end it was a great value as the double sided card came with envelopes so all I had to do was prepare them to be mailed. Finally, I created labels from my running excel contact list which was super easy (once I figured out formatting).
And that was it. I was able to add a little sparkle to the lives of all the ones I love and not spend a ton of money. This whole project maybe cost me $50 dollars to print them and buy the labels. Not to mention, everything about the card was personal and therefore, in my opinion, done with love. Share your ways you add sparkle during the holidays on a budget, I’d love to know.
Till next time, Sparkle on!