I was in my mid twenties, newly married. One bright, cold December afternoon, my husband walked into our teeny, tiny rental, his hands full of mail.
“What’s all this?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he answered, clearly bewildered. “We just got a lot of mail, I guess?”
As we opened each piece of mail, we were greeted with the smiling faces of friends and loved ones, both near and far. So many questions arose. How did some of these people get our address? How did everyone know to send Christmas cards at the same time? Where did a person go about getting these beautiful cards? And most importantly, was I supposed to do this, too?
I did what most people my age would have done. I went to the computer and Googled “how to do Christmas cards.” As I sorted through the literal hundreds of purchase options, Pinterest articles, and think pieces about holiday cards, I felt something inside me shift and change. I too, would make Christmas cards and send them to my friends and family. I too, would take pictures of my family in color coordinated outfits for the sole purpose of plastering them on a season’s greeting. Nevermind that I didn’t have a family yet. I was preparing for the future! Because that’s what people who make Christmas cards do! They prepare for the future!
Six years and two kids later, I’ve tried my Christmas cards every way you can think of. The last three years, though, I’ve found the way I love the best. The cheap way.
Now, cheap doesn’t have to mean cheap looking. You can have beautiful Christmas cards for a fraction of the cost, using some creativity and advance planning.
Here’s how I do it.
Make a list. Check it twice. Before I do anything, I make a list of everyone I need to send a card to. I want to go into my shopping with a clear number of what I need. I make a list of everyone who should get a card, and then I add ten, because I like to think I make at least ten new friends every year. ;)
Find cards during Christmas clearance. My love of Target clearance sales is no secret and the Christmas clearance is the biggest sale event of the year for me. You can usually find a good variety of cards left when the sales drop to 90% off. This year, I hit the motherload. I found these cute, Christmas colored cards in the Dollar Spot for 90% off. 60 cards cost me 30 cents. Total. That’s half a cent each.
Find additional craft supplies during Christmas and Easter clearance. This is one of those situations where you have to go in with an open mind. After I found my cards, I knew I wanted some kind of tape or special glue to use as a frame on my card. These Scotch Expressions tapes were also 90%, so I grabbed a few different options. 30 cents each, and I got four, bringing that to $1.20.
Take a Good Picture. The picture I used is from Mother’s Day, the only holiday where mothers are guaranteed a good picture. If you’re the type who loves to dress everyone up and get some candids in the woods, awesome. If you’re the type who like selfies where one of your children is starring off in the distance, also great. The important thing is to get as many good pictures between now and next Christmas, so that when card time comes around you have some great options without scrambling.
Wait for Free Picture Codes. If you’ve read our guest post about Shutterfly, you know that you can grab a ton of great freebies. The most coveted code is Free Shipping and it can usually be found in an email from an affiliate company, like Pampers of Kelloggs. Once you’ve got your Free Shipping code, see if you can combine it with free pictures. In years past, I’ve used the 101 Free Prints promo they occasionally run, but this year I needed something smaller than a 4×6. I opted for wallet sized pictures to fit my cards. I scored 56 photos, which worked perfectly because I had 60 cards. I used “$25 Off Your Entire Order” to score these completely for free.
Buckle Down for a Night of Crafting. Seriously, the hardest part of DIYing is the doing. We’ve all fallen into the trap where we get our supplies, we have a plan in place, and then…life happens and our crafts lay untouched in the corner of the guest room that our husband jokingly refers to as “the Island of Misfit Crafts.” Not like I’m speaking from experience. Be intentional. Carve out a night after the kids have gone to bed, send the hubs out to a friend’s house (or work Christmas party, even better), pop on some Hallmark Christmas movies, and get these puppies done. It’s going to take a few hours, but the labor is free. If you have kids of the crafting age, I highly encourage you to get them involved. My littles aren’t quite there yet, motor skills wise, but I am eagerly anticipating putting them to work in a little Christmas Card assembly line.
Mail Your Cards. Is there a better feeling than tossing a stack of Christmas cards into the post box? If there is, I don’t know it.
Still not convinced this is for you? Let’s look at those numbers again.
Decorative Tape: $1.20
Total Cost of Cards: $1.50 for 60 cards. That 2.5 CENTS per card.
Some of you may be thinking, “hold, up, Kristen B. What about postage, hmmmm?” Whenever possible, we try to avoid paying for postage. For relatives who live far away, it’s unavoidable. But if you can, put a card in with bigger gifts you’re already sending. When I send my mother her Christmas presents, there are always half a dozen extra cards in there for her to pass out to the aunts and uncles.
For in town recipients, get creative. Hand deliver cards to friends with a little Christmas treat. My family loves to drive around town, looking at the Christmas lights in all the other neighborhoods. We use this time to stop in and drop off some Christmas cheer at our friend’s house.
But you know what? You just made 60 cards and if you want to spend $15 on postage, I’m not mad about it. It’s still brings your total cost per card up to 46 cents, which is crazy good.
Remember, the key to this is an open mind. If you find a 5×7 card that has a picture and greeting already on the front, no sweat. You can insert your picture in the card or tape it onto one side. If you get 25 free cards from Shutterfly and you want to do half those and half DIY, great. The money you save from these Christmas cards can go straight into your Disney fund, which is the best gift of all!
What’s your deal with Christmas cards? Do you DIY or leave it to the professionals? Tell me all about it and show me your cards in the comments!
Kristen B. is wife to the best Prince around, mama to the spunkiest little princesses, and lover of all things Disney. She started her savings journey three years ago and is now dedicated to making her family’s wishes come true one coupon at a time. She is so excited to take her love of saving to the next level and share her journey with you! Click here to catch up on Kristen’s Savings and join in on your own savings adventure!