You've Got...Holiday Cards

I know the wave of holiday cards spitting through my mail slot is about to start. It's one of my favorite parts of the holidays -- especially getting pictures of friends and family I haven't seen in a while or reading a few lines about what people have been doing all year. Every year is a crazy scramble for me to get my cards out so this time I tapped the expertise of Sarah Stefany, the holiday card guru for VistaPrint. Here's what she had to say:

What are the trends in holiday cards this year?
The traditional greens and reds are much lighter than they have been, sometimes being pink and light green. You're seeing purples, a lot of metallics, browns and golds. I've seen damask patterns and jacquards, as well. The whole baroque thing is very "in" and designs within designs. You see a lot of silhouetted designs like the silhouette embellished with swirls and different patterns. Speaking of swirls, reindeer this year are big. Their antlers are really swirly and filled with bobbles and ornaments.

So no more Santas and Christmas trees in the cards?
Santa is still around but he's thinner. The elements for the holiday are still there but we're just updating our look as a nation.

When should you plan on having your holiday cards arrive at their destination?
People start to send them at the beginning of December. People like to get them between the 15th and Christmas and then New Year's cards sprinkle in the first week of the new year.

It seems every year I get more and more New Year's cards. Is that a new trend?
People are so busy and if they don't get their Christmas or Hanukkah cards out, they're able to send a New Year's card. In Europe, New Year's cards are much hotter than they are in the U.S.

How do you update your friends and family without overwhelming them with a long letter?
A really great way is with photo collage cards. They let you use up to nine different photos from throughout the year in your holiday greeting. That's a subtle way to show people what's going on without having to talk and talk. On the reverse, manufacturers are including an area in the card where you're able to upload a little letter. You have a 6x9 or 5x7 area where you update them briefly, but you don't have to tell such a long story.

How should you handle the wording if some people celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or some other holiday?
As long as the sentiment comes from your heart, I think people really identify with that. It can be only two or three words but it's sensitive to the people you're sending it to. You can take care of that issue on a case-by-case basis.

How much should people expect to spend?
You can spend anywhere from 50 cents or $1 per card to $5 and $6 with the high-end paper lines. If you're doing the high-end photo cards, you're spending money on photography, processing and then you're also spending time applying the photos to the cards. With this huge wave of digital photography, there's a cost effective and quick way to put together a great-looking holiday card.

Are you sending holiday cards this year? What will they look like?

By Tania Anderson |  November 27, 2007; 3:00 AM ET Holidays and Special Occasions
Previous: Black Friday Morning: Tamer Than Expected | Next: What the Locals are Buying for the Holidays


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Many years ago, I was so stressed by the holidays that I didn't get the cards out until Jan. 6, Feast of the Epiphany, and the 12th day of Christmas. It was so liberating, that I consider that my mail-by date. It makes my cards stand out, and I actually don't even start them until Christmas Day.

Posted by: babsy | November 27, 2007 7:01 AM

I just had serious problems with Vista Print for an order I placed for Open House Invitations. 1/3 of the invitations came with a large smudgy line across the top.

Vista Print did not quality control this order. We have a guest list of 250 people. I immediately called Vista Print and asked them to express delivered 80 invitations to replace the smudged invites. They refused even though this is their fault. Since this is a time sensitive issue, we can not wait three BUSINESS days. This does not give us time to mail out the invitations.

Even though ordering and having the company mail for you appears to be a good would you like smudgey cards going out? Obviously, this company has no quality control and low customer service skills. Their customer calls appear to have gone through a foreign answering service and no one...including a supervisor... was able to rectify this situation. Please proceed with caution in regards to this company.

They have agreed to credit me with the damaged invitations, but this does not help us actually have the invitations we need. We are going to create and print our own for the 80 damaged invites. This does create stress and more work when we don't need it. As for me, they have lost a customer.

Posted by: Shawn Harris | November 27, 2007 1:41 PM

I decided two years ago to simplify my life to the fullest, so the first thing I eliminated was sending Christmas cards. Now I have so much more time to decorate my house, and go shopping.

Posted by: Abuela | November 27, 2007 2:55 PM

Does anyone know of churches or charities selling Christmas trees? What alternatives are there to buying at the big-box retailers (i.e., Home Depot, Wal-mart, etc.)?

Posted by: MB in DC | November 27, 2007 3:50 PM

My wife and I are doing the same thing we did in previous years in terms of cards. We took another artistic digital photo of our daughter in a santa hat holding a "2007" sign. Uploaded it to Kodak Gallery and got 50# 4x6 prints made at around $.15 per print. We then look for deals on simple cards from Staples, Office Depot, or Target and hand write a few lines in each card, slip in our holiday photo and off they go. Regardless of which vendors or stores you use, it's a great way to start a tradition. Our friends and family save each year's card and look forward to what next year's card will be. Just an idea. Go simple on the card and memorable on the photo.

Posted by: McLean | November 27, 2007 4:58 PM

I send a picture and letter and love getting them. Friends tell me they look forward to my letter for its humor. Shorter letters are better with personal lines added. A card with a printed name and nothing added does nothing for me.

Posted by: Mary | November 28, 2007 8:53 AM

Love sending and getting Christmas cards! In October, I make sure I have enough cards from last year's sales and if I don't, I order more. I usually start my cards right after Thanksgiving and send out the first week of December. This year, I'm a little behind; I'll have them done by 12/10 at the latest.

Posted by: WI | November 29, 2007 10:36 AM

Like getting Christmas cards but ones that arrive before December 1st make me truly embarrassed for the sender! Don't be overeager!

Posted by: SG | December 3, 2007 8:30 PM

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