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- The pretty picture. Holiday decorations are filled with interesting and beautiful photographic subjects ready to be photographed for your cards. From holly leaves to pine boughs, ornaments to snowflakes, you can pick practically any winter element to turn into a beautiful card. I've had good luck utilizing graphically strong and simple images—like candy canes and snowflakes—but you can use almost anything from a snowy landscape to snowman to convey your holiday message.
- Printable cards. As photographers, we are most comfortable with printing photographs to use as greeting cards. Perhaps the most streamlined way is to use our desktop inkjet printers and special printable, pre-folded greeting card blanks. Designed for use in home printing, these cards are a simple and easy way to print photos onto cards in one fell swoop. The only limitation is the surface of the card; if you want a particular surface or a high-gloss finish, you may have to go another route.
- Affix photos to cards. There's no rule that says you can't use plain old cardstock (I buy mine in a variety of colors, sizes and textures from a great paper supply store) and print photos separate from the cards. This is a great way to get a glossy photo on a bright red card, or an odd shaped card or a print with some special surface. (Beware, though, that some card shapes—like squares—require extra postage.) You just print the picture and stick it on. Sure, it's a little more labor-intensive than the all-in-one printable card approach, but you gain a little more control over the quality and surface of your printed picture. And you can then print in almost any size and shape you'd like. I prefer to use scrapbooking materials for affixing photos to cards—like adhesive dots or double-sided tape—but just about any adhesive approach will work as long as you're not overly concerned with creating an archival card that will last a lifetime.
- Lab-printed cards. Not only can you utilize a photo lab to print pictures that you then affix to cardstock, you can also let the lab print the cards themselves. Many photofinishing services—from the pharmacy to the big internet retailers—offer specialized holiday card printing on surfaces from glossy photo paper to cardstock, in shapes from bifold cards that require envelopes to mailable postcards you can write on. Some services even offer to upload your address list and mail the cards for you—which is no small chore, I know.
- Go digital. It may sound like blasphemy, and heck, maybe it is, but have you ever considered emailing your holiday card? You'd save some trees, save some time and save a whole lot of expense (no postage or printing materials) by sending an electronic version of your greeting card in lieu of a printed one. I know, it's not quite as special and you can't display an email on the mantle, but it's definitely a viable option—especially if your family is busy and on the go. It's a route you should definitely consider—but only if grandma has email access too.
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