3 options for easy and relatively non-cheezy holiday greeting cards

December 9 2011 |

Can you imagine what it must have been like to be offbeat and try to send holiday cards 15 years ago? I can picture the aisles of stationary stores, where a sad looking proto-hipster can't find a box of holiday cards to fit his family. Hokey Christmas angel? Goofy reindeer poop humor? He picks up box after box of beautiful cards, but they just don't feel right.

Thank you, internet, for solving this problem for us. Now you have fine-grain control over precisely how sappy or serious or nerded out or swear-filled your end-of-year cards are. These three services will get you started on making a card PERFECT for your household.

If you want flexibility

I am a big, big fan of MOO cards. They're a UK company best known for their ubiquitous mini-cards loved by Etsy sellers, but they have nice printing on good paper and super simple site integration with other services: you can pull your photos off Flickr, SmugMug, or Picasa in a snap.

MOO also offers readymade packs, which are pretty — and handy, if you just can't take a good picture of the fam for the life of you. Designing a pack of 25 cards will run you 33.99 + shipping on MOO. The big draw is that you can upload mutliple photos for each pack — I kind of like the idea that I could send my friends different photos I've taken of us during the year.

It's also useful if you want to send something traditional to grams and something crazy to your BFF.

If you want something more easy & cheap


Vistaprint's been satisfying orders for years: they've got great printing, lots of stock and color choices, and quick turnaround. Wait, I'mma just let Ariel write this part, because she just got her Christmas cards there:

There's a reason Vistaprint is such a longtime favorite for Offbeat Bride printing wedding invitations: Vistaprint is cheap, quick, and super easy. Is this going to be luxurious letter-pressed hand-crafted Etsy fare? No. This is going to be your photo and some text on a template — and you're going to be able to afford it.

You may have to do a little sifting through their templates to find the modern/non-barf options, but they're there. And did I mention they're cheap? I've printed our Christmas cards and the insufferable Baby+Dog calendars we make for family members with Vistaprint for a couple years, and have always been a happy camper.

Vistaprint has some seriously affordable Christmas cards starting at $4 for a pack of 10. Not too shabby at all. Bonus: Free Shipping + 50% Off Holiday Cards and Calendars

If you want to include an end-of-year letter

Shutterfly is the bomb. They have tons of very cool designs and illustrations, many of which have several options for the back side: everything from a terse HAPPY CHRISTMAS LAY OFF ME to a lovingly-composed page of updates from you and yours.

Their prices run a bit higher than Vistaprint, but they also offer more service add-ons: like addressing and stamping your cards for you.

Even though our family doesn't really celebrate anything in between Festivus and New Year's, I have promised we'd get all traditional and send out a stack of cards this December. Now I just need to get half-decent photos of everyone in the house. The cat seems to be the only photogenic one.

  1. This year i made a point to write the weirdest newsletter I could manage and kept it short and sweet and mentioned a few offbeat notes from each person. For instance, husband's homebrewing, Walking Dead obsession, and insistence that we prepare for the zombie apocalypse; my Warrior Dash adventure, blue hair, and Thriller dance mob; Kidlet's quirks, etc. No rehashing everyday life and no gloating allowed.

    We always handmake our cards and this year we chose neon green and electric blue as our colors with a goofy pic of Kidlet. I also made it a New Years card only as we don't celebrate a standard Christian Christmas. Most holiday cards blend in together for me, so I wanted something that would stand out. I'm sure it will earn a few eyerolls from our onbeat friends & family, but it was important to send out something that was representative of us.

  2. These are totally great!
    Any suggestions for what to write on Christmas cards as a single person? I'm old enough now that I want to send them out to my family and friends this year – but it seems really strange to just write updates about my life in it. And my rats are wonderful but they don't really do too much interesting. Plus it's depressing to refer to myself and my rats as a "family" when compared to my siblings' spouse + kids families.

  3. Vistaprint all the way! We custom designed everything for our wedding and it all came out great! And it was so cheap that we even could afford to order reprints because we forgot to put the wedding date on the invites!

  4. A cheaper Moo option is their postcards. You can get them for about $1 a postcard and the postcard stamps are cheaper than card stamps. I did this last year with the help of a fun image from a friend. Christmas Llama Very Economy Friendly.

  5. Just did Vistaprint for Christmas cards… Couldn't find any info on shipping prices or turnaround time but figured it was on-par with other online printers. Went ahead and spent a lot of time designing the card online and at the v-e-r-y end of the process, after going through PayPal, they say the standard turnaround time is 21 days! Unless you pay premium for rush service, which I then had to do, and the shipping cost more than the cards. Booo!

    • Vistaprint waaaaay over-estimates their shipping time — I think part of how they keep their printing costs so low is by charging high for shipping/rush fees. That said, I've never had a standard shipping order take longer than 2 weeks to arrive.

  6. My personal question is how do you update everyone that you got married, got a house, moved states/cities, got new jobs, got two dogs, started getting our masters degrees… without sounding horribly boring and listing things off, and especially addressing the people who may know some of the big stuff (like we got married and moved) but not some other stuff (like the dogs). Sigh. I am not good at communicating.

  7. I like Moo as well but their shipping options killed me pricewise. I checked out Vistaprint and was faced with a similar problem.
    I decided to buy a 50 pack of plain cards from the dollar store and used double-sided tape to attach 4×6 pictures printed at a photoshop. The only downside was printing out the greeting by hand over and over again. First world problems, eh?

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