Design Your Own Christmas Cards with These Great Ideas

It’s fall, and you know what that means? No, it has nothing to do with pumpkin spice. Forget about yellow and orange leaves adorning your mantle. Quit Googling best Halloween costumes for your German Shepherd.

Fall means that it is time to start planning on your favorite holiday tradition – your Christmas or Holiday card. Whether you attempt the traditional or design your own Christmas card, late fall is the time to get started on this project to avoid the Christmas rush.

Design Your Own Christmas Cards with These Great Ideas

Don’t Procrastinate

Of course, you aren’t going to wait until December 22 and drive through three-foot of snow to a big box store only to print out 200 cheaply made cards with the only photo you have of your entire family?

Who cares if in the picture your son was crying, and you had spinach in your teeth? It’s Christmas, darn it! You need to spread Christmas cheer, and that means the holiday will be ruined if you don’t mail these crappy cards to your entire address book! Doesn’t sound like you? Yeah . . . Me either.

Let’s Make it Stand Out

How are you going to make your Christmas card stand out from the rest? How are you going to ensure that you make it to the top of the stack? You know you are in competition with your sister in law to see whose family photo makes it to the top of the refrigerator instead of buried under the Meals on Wheels menu.

Here are some tips to make sure your photo is the best.

Focus on quality, not quantity.

I receive Christmas cards every year where the family wants to highlight all the cool things they did throughout the year. Their Christmas cards feature a collage of photos. (“Here we are at the beach. Here is Johnny playing soccer. Here is Susie on stage dancing at the ballet. Here we are with Bigfoot.” Etc.) I’ve been there. I’ve created those cards on my 28-inch computer screen at home, reveling in the glory of my amazing family. On the computer screen, the photos look huge, but then the cards arrive in the mail, and my darling little Susie looks like she is three micrometers tall, and Bigfoot looks more like Littlefoot. Instead, focus on one fantastic family photo.

Design Your Own Christmas Cards with These Great Ideas

Plan ahead

You have a year. There’s no excuse not to have one decent photo of your family for a Christmas card by December. Think about it when you are attending your cousin’s wedding. Have a teenage girl take your photo before the wedding. (Always ask a teenage girl. They’re the best photographers around.) Make sure your photo is taken beforehand because well . . . There’s free wine at the reception. Only amateurs take time away from free wine to take a family photo.

Get close! Closer!

This drives my family crazy, but it works. When I take photos of my children, unless the background is essential to the story, I stand as close as I can to the subject and frame my photo as I take the picture. Don’t stand 50 feet away from a group and then assume you can “zoom in” during the editing process. What you get is a grainy, bad photo that can’t be printed because of “quality issues.”

Get in the photo

Don’t just send a photo of the kids or one of the German Shepherd in his cute Halloween costume. Get in the picture! We all have 20 pounds to lose. We all need a new hairstyle or need to straighten our teeth. When it comes down to it, no one really cares. Life is too short to worry about a few pounds. People want to see you, not your dog. (Especially not your cats. No one wants to see a photo of your cats. I promise.)

Design Your Own Christmas Cards with These Great Ideas

Learn how to pose

Yes, in the last tip I told you not to worry about those 20 pounds you need to use. And yes, I still believe this tip is good advice, but learn how to take photos of yourself that are flattering to your body shape.

Do you want to know how to take flattering photos? Ask a teenage girl. Just kidding. The first thing to remember is to stand at a slight angle to the photographer. Standing at an angle gives you a slimmer profile. Raise your arm slightly away from the torso. This slims the arm by reducing the flab from spreading out across your bust.

Pull your chin forward (or some photographers say to bring your ears forward) to minimize the chance of a double chin. If you are taking a full body shot, turn your body at an angle and put one foot forward. Think about where your hair is in the shot. Look at photos of yourself to determine which is the best angle for you.

Enjoy taking your holiday cards! December can be a very stressful month of the year. Let designing your own holiday card be part of the traditions you actually enjoy.