6 steps to a relaxed Christmas: order cards

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

Every year around now, I really start looking forward to the Christmas season. Pins are flying all over Pinterest, proffering more ideas than time for our family’s holiday season. As much as I love keeping the holidays simple, I also love making merry with fun, original, meaningful ideas.

And this is where the rubber meets the road. None of us are strangers to the irony of spending so much time pinning ideas that you don’t have the time do actually accomplish any of these newfound ideas. Nor are you unaware of the busyness our culture implies is required for the holiday season. You’re not a festive family if you’re not busy during Christmas.

I say no. I refuse to buy in to the idea that unless we’re nonstop filling our time with activities, we won’t have a memorable holiday. I want to spend my time snuggling with my kids, reading, baking, and in quiet worship. With lots of laughter.

That’s why we’re doing one holiday task a week for the next few weeks—because when you do them early, you have time for the stuff you really want to do. It’s all about creating a relaxed holiday spirit. Read all six steps here.

So what’s this week’s task?

Design and order your Christmas cards

I’m not implying you’re unthoughtful if you forego holiday cards—there are definitely reasons and seasons for claiming a bye year. But sending and receiving cards is one of my favorite Christmas traditions, probably because it’s whispers to a time when we still regularly used stamps and envelopes.

I love that friends still take the time to mail traditional cards. I love the process of hand-writing each envelope, saying a prayer of thanks for that person. I love displaying our received cards, seeing how babies have grown and pregnant bellies have swollen. And I love keeping these cards year-round as a reminder to continue in prayer.

But they can take awhile, so that’s why I like to order and design our cards early, while there’s still plenty of time. Later in the season, we’ll watch a favorite holiday movie, whip up some hot chocolate, and address the envelopes together.

1. Design your own

If you’re Photoshop-savvy (or even want to give it a go in Picmonkey), you can design your own cards and have them printed as postcards or photos. This is our route most years—you can see last year’s at the top of this post (though I may take a break this year, with my impending book deadline looming ever nearer).

These are some of my favorite places for printing my designs as postcards:

Check out their sizes before you design, too, so you don’t have to backpedal when it’s time to order.

2. Order a design

There are more gorgeous card designs than you could ever possibly create, so have a good time choosing. It’ll be hard for me this year. Some of my favorite designers:


Wishing Good Things card from Cardstore


Candy Cane Countdown holiday card from Minted

Rustic Merry Christmas card from SassyInk Studio


Spread the Cheer card from Shutterfly

Review Newsletter holiday photo card from Snapfish


Happy Love Joy card from Tiny Prints (I also love their ornament cards!)


Snow Globe Fun card from Treat, if you like the idea of personalizing individual photo cards.

Priceless card from PhotoCard Design

3. Print photos and add them to “regular” cards.

No harm at all in buying boxed cards, printing a simple family photo, and tossing it in the envelope. Why not keep things simple?

Don’t forget to make your return address easy. When we don’t send out postcards (no envelopes needed!), I usually just print our address directly on the envelope, sending them through the printer in a batch. You can also order return address labels, run those through the printer, and get your kids to stick them on the back of the envelopes.

So your assignment this week? Design and order your holiday cards. You’ll be so glad you did, because now you can cross it off the list and wait patiently for them to arrive, instead of scrambling at the last minute.

Head here to watch for all of this year’s six steps (and feel free to pin it to make it easy for you to find).

Do you send out holiday cards?

Note: This post contains a few affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. I loved your Christmas card last year and it hung in our home along with my advent Calendar until the beginning of Spring. So you better make em good, cause Christmas stuff tends to linger in our home….

  2. I have a sneaking suspicion we may send out Valentine’s cards this year.
    (We’re moving in 5 days. And I have so. much. to. do.) I can’t even think about the holidays yet.

    • I always enjoy getting cards after the holidays. It always seems like just the right ‘pick-me-up’ for the mid-winter blues! Valentine’s Day Cards sound wonderful!

  3. P.S. Did you really do that Instagram one yourself?! It’s so great!!

  4. A few years ago I decided to do New Years cards, because I could never get my act together and get cards ready for Christmas. So now we take a family picture on Christmas day, load it up to the Walmart website, pick it up the next day, then we just have to print address labels and off to the post office we go. It’s become a fun tradition for our family.

  5. The photo-cards are great, but we created easy cards with masking tape yesterday, which is great fun for children too: http://micha-morethanwords.blogspot.de/2012/11/weihnachtskarten-2012.html

  6. One year when we got particularly busy and I forgot to get Christmas photo’s done in time I had my daughter do drawings of our family on card stock. They turned out really cute. Usually however I print a family photo and place it in a card since that way family can frame it and keep it out all year.

  7. Awesome! And perfect timing! And, can I tell you something really embarrassing? I just found the bag of holiday cards ….. from LAST year that I never mailed! (eek! What, did I have a new baby or something? :-D)

    I think I may be brave and design our own this year, but I have to say I LOVE your family’s card from last year. I think that may weigh heavy in my inspiration :-)

    Best wishes!

  8. I do send cards. And usually I design them too. And I was thinking about this recently, when I had to buy a “Sorry you’re leaving” card for a friend at work after my printer refused to work.

    It’s weird, that feeling that creeps on you when you forgo your creation in favour of ‘the standard off-the-shelf card’. Like you’re letting yourself and others down for not putting in as much time and effort into the present/card this time round.

    It’s a nasty personal mind trap, since that’s how life goes and one has to prioritise their use of time.

    On a practical side though – I sometimes end with a compromise, i.e. I freshen up an old card/invitation design. Did you think about that?

  9. I love Christmas cards. We line them up around the doors in our kitchen. I always want to order cards early and get envelopes addressed so we can send them out right after Thanksgiving, but we typically take a picture of the kids in Christmas outfits to include in the card, and that usually doesn’t happen until December. We may be the people you receive a card from the day before Christmas :-)

  10. Yep, this is on my list for this week! Love the variety and beauty of the cards you’ve shown here :)

  11. I’m excited for this! Thank you. I can use all the help and pacing I can get. I am going for a minimalist Christmas and need all the help I can get.

  12. This is TOO FUNNY because I sat down this morning at the computer to get some work done and quickly fell down the rabbit hole of Christmas card designing and ordering. And then I opened my email and saw this!

    But yes. I am DETERMINED to order early and choose less stress about these this year!

  13. We’ve been doing the exact same thing for years and it works out great. You know what works out even better?… letting my wife do it all! Of course, if I had to make the Christmas cards they would never get done. :)

  14. I’ve been sending cards every other year and quite often they are New Year’s cards. This year we ended up with a great fall pic so I will be sending Happy Thanksgiving cards this Friday to kick off the holiday season.

  15. Honestly, I’m hoping this year’s cards will be a bit late…we’re hoping for our adoption referral sometime in the next few weeks and I would LOVE to include their pics/name in our stuff….or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

  16. Tsh, thanks to your inspiring post, I ordered my Christmas cards today! Yay! I used Cardstore.com last year and was very impressed. I just bought 40 for now because they are 70% off and free shipping. But if I remember correctly, they had an even better sale after Thanksgiving that includes free shipping and free stamps with a huge discount. I’m hoping for that to buy more for my out of state friends and family. The 40 will go to church family & neighbors (no stamp necessary). Thanks for your blog! It’s a highlight to my day. Love the podcasts too!

  17. I send out Christmas cards, but the list of people that get them is dwindling each year. I am slowly switching to sending our pictures and newsletter via email and only family and some people whose email addresses we don’t have get the real deal in the mail. I ordered our cards last week, so I’m all set to go in this arena!

  18. Thank you again for this series! I had the best Christmas season last year follow along with you and your gentle reminders. Planning + Preparation = Peace.

  19. Wait! I didn’t get my budget done yet! :)

  20. You’ve motivated me! Thanks :)

  21. I’m hit or miss with sending cards, but I do LOVE to receive them. I think we’ll do it this year.

  22. Thank you, Tsh, for these beautiful and inspiring ideas!

  23. I actually simplify the holidays for myself by not sending cards. I realized one day that I received cards from some but not all of the people in my life and although I appreciated it (especially the picture cards) I didnt expect anyone to send me a card. So, I took the expectation off myself. (o:

  24. I have had a very very busy fall. I normally do a photo card of some sort, but I just wrapped up my big event and have so much personal stuff to catch up on. So when I looked through my son’s fundraiser catalog last night and saw that they had holiday cards, I ordered those. I will probably stick a photo in them. Do I feel a slight twinge of loss for the designed photo card? Yes. But I also feel IMMENSE relief that it’s done. No shopping for them in the mall or drug store. I do have to wait for them to come in, but I can get a lot of it done in advance (hello labels) and then just slap and sign.

  25. Woohoo, laziness paid off: I have several boxes of Christmas cards and stamps ready to go, since I never got around to sending any last year!

  26. We live in Ireland, so I am sending out actual Christmas cards I bought here. They are written in Irish (Gaelic) and I think it makes a nice touch for our friends and family in the US. They also support Irish charities, which is a nice bonus. Of course, when I’m having to write each one by hand, I definitely think, “Was this really a good idea?!”

  27. avatar
    Erin Lembke says:

    Just wanted to thank you for encouraging me to get my cards done! I didn’t have any decent pictures of one of my kiddos, so we had to take care of that first. Pushing on, I got it done this past week! Yea!

  28. I wasn’t necessarily going to participate BUT I ordered mine this week! Also, I went even simpler than anything you mentioned – I take my favorite group picture of my four kids, print as many 4×6 as I need and send them as POSTCARDS. The postage costs less and there are no envelopes to buy or stuffing to do. The kids help my stick labels and stamps and I write addresses.

  29. I love receiving holiday cards but can never seem to make time to send my own (at least not the physical variety). How far in advance does one have to send away for them?

  30. Another idea is to use Etsy for card design. I ordered a design from an artist on Etsy for $15. I sent her my photo and she sent me a high resolution proof. I could then have the cards printed at Costco – 75 cards for $20, making my total spending only $35. Great way to save money, but still have what I feel is a special card.

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