Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Greet the Season

Our 2008 Christmas Card Photo

One of the delights of the holiday season is receiving Christmas cards. The walk to the mailbox is more exciting this time of year, as we look forward to hearing from loved ones. This simple holiday exchange allows us to reconnect with all those we hold dear, and it is amazing to watch friends' children grow through their Christmas card photos from year to year.

As much fun as it is to receive holiday cards, sending them can become a chore. But with a few simple tricks, you can have your cards filled with love and sealed with a kiss in no time.

  • Say Cheese! If you are taking the pictures yourself, my photographer friend Allison suggests taking pictures in natural light. She advises choosing a shady spot out of the harsh glare of the sun for the best results.
  • Strike a Pose. Unsure that I would get a group shot that flattered all the children this year, I started our photo session snapping individual photos of each one. Catching them at play seems to yield the best shots. And loosely grouping them together and shooting their natural interaction catches some sweet moments. (At least, until those warm embraces turn into a wrestling match between the boys!) An ornament and a wrapped gift made easy props for our photo session.
  • Go to Collage. Making a collage is a great way to incorporate several favorite photos. I enjoying using Picasa, which can be downloaded free from Google here. This user-friendly program allows you to edit photos with the click of a mouse. And you can make collages easily in a variety of shapes and styles. I had a little trouble working out this year's collage, so I photographed the wrapped gift and placed it in the center.
  • Open a Print Shop. I started printing our Christmas cards from our computer a few years ago, and this has proven an economical choice. Simply measure your cards and create a document that size in your word processing program. Adjust the margins to allow for perfect placement of your holiday greeting. You can find lots of quotes, verses and greetings online. And consider adding text boxes with fine print to the inside edge and back page of the card. I like including a line with the children's names and ages inside the card, and our contact information on the back. Adhere photos to the front of the card with double-stick tape or photo-safe glue. Making your own Christmas cards, you can completely customize your design with stickers, ribbon or other embellishments. Or if you are sending a lot of cards, keep it simple and sweet.
  • Keep Up with the Joneses, Smiths and Grahams. I am organizationally challenged, so to keep up with holiday correspondence, I place a pretty basket near the door with extra Christmas cards, stamps, a pen and my address book. Keeping these supplies close at hand helps me record address changes as cards come in, and allows me to respond quickly to Christmas cards we receive from families who need to be added to our list.
  • Show Your Cards. Consider replacing plates on a plate rack with framed Christmas card photos. Scrapbook paper makes a pretty mat, and a festive bow adds a seasonal touch to the frame. Cluster incoming cards in a pretty basket, or clip them into garland around your kitchen window. Joe's mother still has laminated place mats displaying holiday greetings his late grandparents received long ago. Another family has kept all the cards they have received over the years. They keep them in a special box and enjoy sifting through old photos in front of the Christmas tree.

No matter how you say it this year, Merry Christmas to you!

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