Even in this era of e-cards, there’s really nothing nicer than getting a hand-addressed Christmas card in the mail. And it’s an especially personal way to send the ubiquitous, generic gift card that seems to have replaced the carefully chosen and wrapped presents of yore. They’re easy on the giver and probably easier on some recipients, but plastic doesn’t have much soul.
You can run out to the shopping centre and buy some boxed greeting cards, of course. But there’s still time to create your family’s own personalised Christmas cards and here are some super fun ideas for them:
Re-Invent the Family Portrait
There you all are, scrubbed up and in your matching sweaters for the annual family picture. Oh look, Junior – or the family dog — is wearing reindeer antlers. There’s no denying he’s cute, but it’s not as if no one’s ever thought of doing it before.
This is the year to bust out and try something new that will be fun for all of you to do and fun for everyone who’s lucky enough to be on your mailing list.
- Wrap the family up like presents. Either everyone popping out of his or her own box or the whole gang tied up in a big ribbon and bow.
- Dress up in costumes. Pick characters from your favorite television show, film, or book. Stick to a Christmas theme as Scrooge and the Cratchit family, Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the elves, or the Grinch and some residents of Whoville, for example. Or if you’ve got a real theatrical bent, you could recreate a scene from Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Frozen, or whatever seems like it fits the family.
- Go on location. For the family photo this year, bundle up and head to a Christmas tree lot or a tree farm if you live near one. Or take the kids to see Santa and all of you get into the picture.
- Bake up a photo. Gather all the makings for festive Christmas treats and everyone get to work, with photos documenting the process — the messier the better – as well as the finished products.
- Share the holiday fun. Take the family photo while you’re outside putting up the Christmas lights, inside decorating the tree, or all gathered ‘round to wrap gifts. Unless you fake it, you might have to do a few of these things a bit ahead of your usual schedule to get the cards out in the post, but the benefit is that you’ll have more time near the holidays to relax and enjoy everything.
- Include the pets, of course! Some people make their pets the entire focus of their cards, which can be done very cleverly, but folks want to see you, too, particularly if it’s been a while. So absolutely get the dog, the horse, the pot-bellied pig, or the turtles into the picture, but don’t leave out the rest of the family. And good luck convincing the cat to pose.
Incorporate Your Message in the Photo
There are lots of ways to include your greeting right in the picture. Make a set of poster cards with one word on each so that every member of the family is holding part of the message. If you want, you could make a purposeful mistake so that someone is holding his or her card upside down. You could also make a banner to hang in your scene, write your greeting on a chalkboard, use children’s alphabet blocks to spell out the message, or if you’re baking, write it out with icing.
Make it the Best Photo Ever
There are a few simple things to remember so that your personalized card shows the family to its best advantage. That doesn’t mean it has to be perfect… unless you all are, of course. If you’re not recreating an otherwise recognizable tableau, aim for easy poses, natural smiles, and even laughter. Watch out for awkward juxtapositions with items in the background; you don’t want it to look as if a chandelier, for example, is growing out of the top of dad’s head.
As for everyone’s clothes, and again, that’s if you’re not in costume, outfits, and colours don’t have to match but they should be harmonious so that the eye isn’t drawn to someone who stands out in bright green while everyone else is wearing red. Tell the kids to save their logo and graphic t-shirts for another time.
And by all means, have a good time taking the pictures. It will show!