Reimagine Your Family Holiday Card: Our 2018 Guide

November is here, and that means it’s time to start thinking about this year’s holiday card.

While we may receive a few embossed cards with an artful image on the front and a thoughtful sentiment inside, at least 75 percent of the cards we receive every year feature photos.

Looking at photos in our holiday cards keeps us connected to friends and family far away. We get to watch children grow and celebrate milestones like graduations and weddings that have happened over the previous year.

Because it’s fun to receive news and pictures from friends at the holidays, many of us also enjoy sending our own photo cards every year. But coordinating and executing that family photo card can add to the stress of preparing for the holiday season.

To help lighten the load, and throw some creative fun into the mix, we’ve created our 2018 Holiday Greeting Guide. Some of these ideas might just surprise you!

Give Some Thought to Your Photo Choices

As you think about what kind of holiday greeting you want to send, start by considering the photo, or group of photos, you might use.

One option is to have fun reminiscing through the year’s photos as you select an image from a family event like a wedding, or vacation. If your family is like ours, it may take some family debate to reach a consensus on the final choice.

A second option is to have a friend or professional photographer take a new holiday picture of the whole family (or maybe this is the year you just feature the kids in your photo).

If you decide to take a new photo, you can add a creative twist to the image by using a combination of props, setting, and clothing. Try staging your photo with one of these catchy captions:

  • “Dashing Through the Snow” – find a snowy landscape and pose together on sleds or take an action shot where you’re tossing snowballs.
  • “Sleep in Heavenly Peace”– this is the perfect card to use a photo of everyone in their winter PJ’s, or wrapped in winter blankets.
  • “Merry and Bright” – try a group hug pose with everyone wrapped in strands of lights. (For an extra fun effect, dim the room lights so you’re all lit by the light strands.)
  • “Oh, Christmas Tree” – use photos of the kids decorating the tree. If your tradition includes venturing out to cut down your own tree, have someone snap a picture of your find in the woods!

Family Holiday Photo Idea“Oh, Christmas Tree” family photo idea. Image from

Though the number of holiday card ideas out there may seem overwhelming, don’t put too much pressure on the photo. We encourage you to create something that reflects your family’s own personality.

Despite your best efforts, it’s possible you can’t find a group photo that works, or can’t get everyone together to take a picture. In that case, we suggest you gather a group of photos to create collage card. TIP: Don’t use too many photos, or they will be too small to see the people in each image.

Read more on choosing the right photos for your holiday card in this archived post.

Once you’ve selected your photo, you’re ready to move on to the next step of deciding what kind of greeting you would like to send: printed photo card, or an electronic version via email.

Customize a Printed Photo Card

Photo greeting card companies have made their websites increasingly user friendly, with a variety of photo paper and pricing.

Our Favorite Photo Card Printing Sites
Tiny Prints and Shutterfly are both owned by the same parent company. While their pricing is pretty similar, Tiny Prints offers a slightly higher quality product.

These sites also offer a plethora of photo gift ideas such as ornaments, calendars, mugs, and blankets. And those ideas only scratch the surface of gifts you can give that feature photos.

For a speedier (and lower cost) holiday card, try Costco or Walgreens. They use lower quality papers, and the color might not be exact, but if you find yourself in a hurry or if you’re on a really tight budget, this might be a good option for you. You can pick up your finished cards in just a few days.

Creating Your Personalized Holiday Card
Now that you’ve decided on a company to create your card, you can choose from the multitude of templates, or create your own. You’ll need to create your account before you upload your chosen photo(s).

Simply drop your image into your template, then customize your greeting, colors, and fonts.

Some card templates allow you to print text on the back side. This is a great space for a short letter featuring family updates. For more or writing the annual letter, read this post from our archives.

Most cards come with free envelopes, while some companies offer an upgraded “foil” envelope. Depending on available options, it also may be possible to save time by pre-printing your return address.

Make a Change and Send an Electronic Holiday Greeting

Between the postage, printing, and time, creating and mailing photo cards might feel a bit daunting every year. Thanks to today’s technology, there’s another way to send your holiday greetings.

If you have the email addresses of most of your friends and family, consider creating an eCard or video greeting.

These animated and musical greetings are surprisingly fun and easy to create. You can customize your greeting and some even allow you to upload your own music.

We have gathered a list of sites with pre-built templates that allow you to upload your photos (and sometimes a video as well). Some require a paid membership to create, others have free or trial account options.

Sites to Create and Send a Photo eCard

Open Me
Offering free membership and a huge collection of simple cards, Open Me is one of the easiest sites for personal photo eCard customization.

The best feature of Open Me is the ability to send an unlimited number of eCards. Open Me also gives you the option to post your eCard on Facebook.

American Greetings
In addition to the generic holiday eCards, American Greetings also has a select number of “add-a-photo” eCards.

This site offers a 7-day Free Trial. Membership options are $4.99 per month, $19.99 for one year, or $29.99 for two years.

A paid membership allows you to create and send unlimited eCards. You can also upload contacts from your address book for simplified sending.

Sites to Create a Photo Holiday Slideshow Video

We reviewed Animoto in this previous post on creating memorial video slideshows, but they also offer holiday card video templates.

You can create a free, 14-day trial account, or pay $8 per month for a Personal account.

Once you’re logged in, you can just choose a template and upload your photos (and videos too!). Animoto allows you to use their music or any song you upload yourself.

When your video is complete, you can download your file and attach it to an email to your friends and family.

This site has a free version with some limitations on video size and available music tracks. Your free video will also show the Renderforest watermark at the end. However, they make it simple to upload your photos into a chosen video greeting template of either 30 or 60 seconds in length.

You can also customize the text, or choose a different music track.

The downside to Renderforest is the limited choice slideshow templates (you only get two options).

Infuse New Life into Your 2018 Holiday Photo Greeting

Keeping in touch with the people on your holiday card list doesn’t have to bog you down or break your bank.

If you prefer to stick with the standard, mailed holiday greeting, printed photo card options abound. But if you’d like to make this year’s greeting electronic, you don’t have to be a technology expert to create a photo eCard or video slideshow.

Whatever method you choose, make sure your holiday photo greeting reflects the heart and personality of your family — and that you have fun creating it.

2 thoughts on “Reimagine Your Family Holiday Card: Our 2018 Guide

  1. Thanks for the great tips, Julie! Another good electronic card service is Blue Mountain. It is free for a period of time and then very reasonably priced for an annual subscription. I’ll have to look and see if you can upload your own photos. And it goes without saying that it is best to begin the process early (and get help if you need it) to avoid the stress of last minute card production!

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