Perfectly Imperfect Holiday Cards and Photos- Part 1 Artistic version

Let’s face it.  When it comes to holiday cards, sometimes it’s a bit stressful.  It is always wonderful to see all of the families that you love and perhaps didn’t get a chance to see but not all of us have the money for a professional shot or are photographers ourselves.  Maybe we have family challenges to getting that “perfect” print worthy image.

That was me…  I dabble in photography and my kiddos have been in front of my camera since the day they were born.  Heck, I actually have pictures of my oldest being born via c-section.  No.  I didn’t take them… hubby did.  He was in shock.  He had no clue what he was doing.  Doc said come and shoot and he did.  Not really our cup of tea, and in other circumstances with clearer heads we wouldn’t have those photos but that’s a wholly different post!  Anyway… When it came to getting a good pic of the kids for cards, I typically could do it.  My children learned early on that if they smiled and looked at the camera we would be done a heck of a lot sooner.

Well, my last little guy had to throw his own twist into the holiday card thing.  You see, when he was 2 and a half, he was diagnosed with a neurologic disorder that made controlling his mouth a challenge.  Yeah, challenge is an understatement.  When I would say “say cheese”, it was pretty much like saying… “Go move Mount Everast!”  He tried his best- but in pictures it often looked like he was screaming at the top of his lungs.  Not everyone on my card list knew his story or his hurdles so really in a picture, it just made him look like a brat.  No. Good.  I didn’t want to create any more misperception of my little man… the world threw that at him already.  I had learned through my own doing that I made things more stressful than they needed to be, and making holiday cards had turned into one of those tasks for me over time.  I love getting and receiving cards but man, they had become a challenge.

So, in order to help you with this holiday card thing (in case you have become challenged and stressed about it like me!) I wanted to share some different ideas for truly perfect (and totally imperfect by the “standard family all looking at the camera” tradition) holiday card ideas.

As I thought about this post, ideas that I have used over the years came pouring in and you know I like to be a bit how-to so this will be a multi-post series!  So check back if these ideas don’t strike your fancy!

The Artistic Card

One year, my daughter brought home this image as something she created in art class.  I simply loved it so much that I thought… done!  And so the “artistic” card idea was born.

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  1. Draw a picture of the holidays or of the meaning of the holidays.  Perhaps it’s peace and joy and love, happiness, celebration… you name it.  Instructions: On your chosen paper or canvas, mark out a 4×6 inch (or size greater if needed to 5×7 or 6×8 or 10×12).  Leave a bit of room around the edge to allow for color overflow and cropping later. Have your child create their masterpiece.  Remember that this is them, now.  Whatever they create is beautiful!
  2. Want a family feel to your creation? Create a collage of beautiful images or papers or both!  Cut out meaningful words and meaningful images from magazines or you could complete an internet search and print and cut.  Cut out images of places you visited or how you like to spend your time as a family or each individually. Pair them with some pretty scrapbook paper or painted construction paper or tissue paper.  Remember to keep important stuff a bit away from the edge.  Don’t want to have them cut out of the final product!
  3. Love little hands and feet as much as I do? Create a hand, foot or fingerprint painted image and use all of your children’s hands, fingerprints etc in the image. Maybe it’s a footprint snowman or some mistle”toes,” some cute fingerprint owls in a tree or a hand print reindeer.  The options are endless!  You might consider labeling the prints so that your relatives remember all of your kids names 🙂 It sure is a fun way to keep track of how big your kiddos are getting!  If you are having trouble thinking of any, check out this megaboard on Pinterest for ideas!

In order to turn the image into a card:

Once your beautiful image is complete and dry, you will want to do one of two things.  You can simply take the image to the printer and have them photo copy the image.  You might be able to do that at home.  Resize down to 4×6 or 5×7, get a couple of images onto your 8.5 x 11 inch printer or photo paper and then print and slip into a store bought card.  Sometimes you can get a great deal on cards if you are a last minute shopper like me!  Write a little hand written note on the back- or flip and double side print a story of your picture.  Cut it our and insert.  Voila!

If you want to turn the image into a photo card, you will first want to take a nice evenly exposed photo of your image.  To do this, find a lovely full light window- you may have to mess around with time of day and window- where you get the best light.   Non-direct sunlight is best.  I found that my east facing windows, once the sun was up but not totally over head (like around 10 a.m.) was best.  Place the image flat on the floor and using a tripod, shoot down on the image. It is best to put the camera timer on and click and step away.  In this image, you can see the big shadow cast by a pot, but no shadows on my image.  Yup, I swear my eyes are crooked because I shoot slightly off level all the time!  Oops!

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Don’t have a tripod?  You can likewise stand your image upright facing your light source.  (Again, be aware of cast shadows.)  Remember that border area I wanted you to keep?  Yup, you can secure your image on a hard something or other if need be to get the image flat.  Create a tripod using books, glasses, whatever and again set the timer and go!

If you don’t have editing software- or don’t know how to use it, be sure to zoom in on your image so that the border is cut out.

Now your image is ready to use in any one of the photo card creation sites!

I am going to be honest, at nearly $1.00 per card, with the size of my family,. photo cards can get expensive.  Watch for sales!  I actually choose to print a bunch of 4×6 cards at Walgreens, Costco or other photo printing places for a very small price and slip them into store bought generic holiday cards for personalization.  Remember, it is the thought and effort that count here.  Your goodwill and cheer will come in any form that you send it!

If you are sending your card to friends of different faiths than you, just keep that in mind with your theme.  Since this is a holiday card, it is best to be sensitive to all of our awesome cultural differences.  This is the season of thoughtfulness and selflessness after all!

I would love to see what images your family creates if you decide to create some cards this way!  Be sure to leave a link in the comments if you do!

Thanks for stopping by!

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