I love getting holiday cards with family photos, and while it’s now easier than ever to keep up with friends and family throughout the year thanks to Instagram and Facebook, nothing beats having a lovely printed photo to tack to the fridge or hang up on the mantel.
But I’ll admit that I don’t often manage to send family photo cards at the holidays, and that’s in large part due to the cost. When you add the cost of having family photos taken as well as the expense of posting them around the country — or, in some cases, around the world — holiday photos can get expensive quickly. Thankfully, there are ways you can keep the cost down.
Here are some ideas for making beautiful holiday cards on a budget this year.
1. Find a photographer friend
Your friend does not have to be a professional photographer, but chances are you have a friend with a good eye and a nice camera or camera phone. Pick a scenic spot to take the photo and check out these tips and tricks to make the photo look good.
2. Use an Etsy template
Once you have the photo for your holiday card, you can make it look more professional with a holiday card template from Etsy. They’re incredibly affordable (usually around $7) and give your holiday card a polished look.
Before purchasing, be sure to check that you have the correct software to work with the template. With these templates, you can add text, sparkly stars or even a multi-photo layout. Once you’re happy with your design print the file at your local pharmacy or photo store.
3. Peek at Pinterest
Pinterest is another place you can find holiday card templates — and some bloggers provide them for free. This template for a chalkboard look from the Old Salt Farm blog is free and you can use PicMonkey to edit it.
4. Use Paperless Post
It’s not quite as satisfying as sending a paper card, but Paperless Post is a great option if you’re stuck for time, if you just need a free option, or if you have a lot of international card recipients on your list. You can design something gorgeous that will land in your friends’ and family’s email inboxes — and your grandma can print it for her fridge if she wants!
5. Keep an eye on Groupon
At this time of year, Groupon often has deals for holiday cards. You’ll want to make sure to read all of the fine print to ensure you’ll be able to get your holiday cards before the holidays!
6. Print photos and DIY
Find a place to print nice quality photos and order a bunch of the same picture in a standard size. Then, go to your local arts and crafts store and buy a box of blank cards with envelopes (they’re cheap, typically around $5 for 40 cards). Then, simply glue your family photo on the front for an instant holiday card. As a bonus, you get lots more space inside to write on the card.
7. Watch for online deals
Coming up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and early December, make sure you’re on email lists for places like Walgreens, CVS and Staples. All of them offer great flash deals for photo printing throughout the year.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in November 2019, and updated in November 2020.