1. Photo or no photo: I am all for the photo, because everyone wants to see how you are doing, how your little ones, pets, and, yes, even you are doing. An alternative to a photo would be a drawing, painting or sketch by you or one of your children. That can be a fun option. If no photo or drawing, you can focus on the next few steps below.
2. What do you want your card to say? Do you want it to be whimsical and say something fun, like "Fa La La La La!" or "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!" Or funny, and maybe even with a funny or silly picture. Or warm, with kind words, like "Wishing you love and peace this holiday season." Or religious, saying something about the holiday you are celebrating. Or even more personal, if you have something specific to celebrate this holiday, like the birth of your child or a new pet for example. Or maybe you've relocated, and you can combine your holiday card with a "We've Moved" card. I personally love a holiday song quote, something fun that might even give people a chuckle. Or a beautiful thick card with gold or silver foil engraving or print on it, with a warm simple message and a great picture.
3. Style and colors. Make it your own. Do something different, fun, creative or simply beautiful. Make it stand out, and give it a personal feel. Red and green are easy go-to's, but try thinking outside the box and think of other warm holiday colors or fun cool wintery blues. As far as style, holiday cards are a fun way to represent yourself to your family and friends. You can think about things like quantity vs quality as well. If you want to send out a truly elegant and beautiful card, but you can only afford to send that dream card to 25 people, then maybe think about something more fun and creative that will make up for the expensive craftsmanship, so you can send it out to more people.
4. How do you want to sign your card. Do you want to have your names printed, or sign them with a pretty pen? I love seeing that someone has taken the time to hand-sign their cards, but if not, try to write a quick personal message on the cards of those closest to you. This will make them feel special. Obviously, the holidays are busy and not everyone has time to do this, so if you don't, at least you know your card itself is fun and reflects your taste and the holiday message you want to send.
5. Envelopes: Be sure you have your address printed on the envelope. Whether you have the address printed on the envelope to match the card, address label stickers or one of those nifty embossing stamps or ink stamps, it is really important that you have your return address on the cards somehow. Otherwise, you may not get a card in return. I hold on to all of my envelopes until I've had a chance to cross-check them with my current list and make sure that all addresses are up-to-date.
Here are a few of my favorite cards I've saved over the years for one reason or another (my apologies for the striped curtain backdrop behind these cards - didn't quite work as I imagined)...
Love this one for it's simple elegance. Just colorblock of pale blue and brown. Also note that the sender picked a matching brown felt tip pen to sign each individual note.
Love this one for it's simplicity and beautiful craftsmanship. It is one-color ink thermography in red on a beveled edge ecru note card. The picture is pasted on.
Again I loved the simplicty of this card. Red and black ink printed on a linen textured card stock. The texture of the card feels very rich and soft.
If you have great photographs, this card is printed proof that you don't really need anything else to make a card great. These photos are incredible!
This neat card belongs to my friend Annie (of Byrdhouse PR). She always picks fun graphics and takes great photos. She and her hubby are even color coordinated with the card!
These friends have made the card their own by putting fun pictures from their travels on the folded note. The inside has even more pics, and a shout-out to their bun-in-the-oven (which is another fun personal touch).
And I love this card "FROM MUSIC CITY". It is so Nashville!
This cute card is a beautiful wintery light blue, which I liked. Just simple and cute.
And here is an example of someone getting a good laugh out of Christmas...this folded card, with the cute Shark costume, and the have a "Killer" Christmas note is hilarious!
And finally, I loved this sweet little card because of the wording, "Not a Creature was Stirring...". Perfect with the cute little pic!