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7 Ways To Personalize Your Holiday Cards Without Using Photos

Whether your aiming for coordinated outfits or — at the very least — smiles, it can be hard to take that perfect family photo. "When moms start to get stressed, kids disengage," explains photographer and mom Me Ra Koh via The Washington Post. Factoring in variables like light, weather, and (of course) your kid's level of enthusiasm are all part of capturing a printable portrait. ​​"The two biggest mistakes that people struggle with is that their photos are blurry or there's too much background," says Koh. When it comes to holiday cards, specifically, it can be difficult to put together a collection of pics in time for seasons greetings. You'll want to hire a photographer — a process which can prove expensive — rely on a self-timer, or ask a friend for help. Sometimes, it's easier to opt for no photos at all, especially when previous sessions have resulted in loud protests from family and one-too-many shots with someone's eyes closed.


This year, save stress, money, and time spent collaging pics by opting for a non-photo-based holiday card. Fortunately, there are ways to personalize your greetings without the aid of a camera.

Personalize with custom calligraphy

Rather than cropping a family portrait onto this year's holiday card, personalize with custom lettering. With the help of an Etsy small business, for instance, select your preferred color (anything from steel blue to gold dust), quantity, and written message. Though many customers use custom calligraphy cards for wedding invites — "These cards were excellent. I used them to ask family and friends to participate in my wedding," writes one Etsy reviewer — they can also be adapted for the holiday season. 


According to verywell mind, sending and receiving personalized letters can have a tremendous psychological impact. Whether you're sharing life updates or just saying hi and happy holidays, "Many studies show that writing is a healing act," says psychotherapist and author Sherry Amatenstein.

Get creative with a cartoon portrait

Photography isn't the only way to represent your family. This year, get extra-creative and show-off everyone in cartoon form. Personalization Mall allows you to pick from over 70 character options (including pets). So don't worry, the dog still has a place alongside the rest of the family. Alternatively, for an even more-detailed portrait, submit a reference photo to the artist. This way, the cartoonist can represent each of your right down to eye color. See Etsy for details. 


As noted by Shutterfly, some enjoy the tradition of hanging up holiday cards as seasonal decor — maybe around their fire place or doorway. So, spice up your friend's mantles this season with a piece of cartoon art. 

Showcase your minimalist style

In the words of minimalist artist Frank Stella, "What you see is what you see," per NPR. If you're a lover of all things minimalism, let that shine through in this year's holiday card. For instance, minted offers a "holiday mood" paint swatch card – leave the interpretation up to the recipients, and fill in blank spaces with a heartfelt message. Alternatively, check out The Design Craft's simplistic Christmas tree design. The most important thing about these cards will be the words you put inside.


Find a card that reflects your sense of humor

"What did the stamp say to the Christmas card? Stick with me and we'll go places!" According to Parade, festive jokes are the perfect way to begin seasonal celebrations. This year, find a holiday-themed card that reflects your sense of humor. Check-out these comic book-style illustrations on Amazon — just $10.99 for a pack of 24. Alternatively, invest in a set of cards inspired by New Yorker cartoons or even artfully-designed magazine covers, per Condé Nast Store.


DIY your own holiday collage

Creating your own holiday cards with bits of paper, marker, and ribbon can be a bonding activity for the whole family. Martha Stewart editors recommend pasting "Dresden embellishments" onto your cards — paper cut in the style of dreidels, wreaths, presents, etc. Don't be afraid to incorporate crafty items like yarn and button, too. Ultimately, sitting down to make DIY holiday cards will certainly get you into the spirit. Turn on music, light a candle, and get to work. Best of all, each recipient will receive something unique.


Make this year's card pop with 3D cut-outs

Go all-out this year with a pop-up holiday card. Check out Lovepop's wintertime willow design or invest in a 3D carousel card from Etsy, though it should be noted they're $16.50 per card, so choose your recipients carefully. If you're feeling extra creative, follow a template to make your own reindeer pop-up, per Martha Stewart. You'll need a plain card for the base, and a knitting needle, thread, and paper — really, it's best to have a fully-stocked crafting corner for DIY pop-ups.


Save the trees with a meaningful vintage card

Are you an avid thrifter, up-cycler, or simply a collector? Show-off your vintage style this season with old-timey holiday cards. Whether you're looking for a Norman Rockwell (aka the father of the contemporary American Christmas, per Sotheby's) design or an alternative art deco print (like this one from Etsy), sending exclusively vintage cards will certainly save a few trees this holiday season. Check out this decades-old Tiny Tim greeting card from Ebay or sort through a collection of early 20th century postcards on Etsy.