Christmas Cards

December 10, 2010

holiday card envelopes lined Minted

Confession: I haven’t ordered our Christmas Cards yet. But I’m bound and determined to make it happen today.

I have some credit at Minted, so I’m going to shop there. I’ll be searching their (excellent) collection of non-photo holiday cards — because (sigh) I didn’t manage to get a family photo ready. (Plus, I really like their pretty lined envelopes.)

Have you ever sent out a holiday card without a family photo? What’s your opinion? Would you say it’s better to skip the photo and send out cards now, or wait till we get the right photo — even if it’s in January?

holiday cards Minted holiday card envelope labels Minted

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{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam Heggie December 10, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Wait for the family photo for sure!!!


2 Lauren December 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

We totally suck at sending out Christmas cards.

I once received a Valentine’s Day card from a family, and thought it was completely charming, and basically the best idea ever. It was great to get a “Christmas Card” in February, when the mailbox was looking so empty.


3 Ana December 10, 2010 at 1:12 pm

We send Christmas cards every year, except this one… I miss it!


4 Molly December 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Wait to send it! Or you can do what we did last year. We could not agree on which photos to use, so we just made a video and sent it out New Year’s Eve. Nowhere near as cute as the one you posted yesterday, however.


5 Mary December 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Definitely wait for the family photo! Send out Valentine’s cards instead. My cousin does this every year, and I always look forward to getting her family newsletter in February. It’s such a nice surprise, and it’s certainly easy to stand out!


6 Lisa December 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I would send out cards no matter what – better a card without a photo than no card at all. Family photos, or just photos of the children, can be sent out anytime.


7 Sarah December 10, 2010 at 1:39 pm

We just received our holiday cards from Minted. I love their designs. The last two years we’ve sent family photos out as cards but it is what suits you . I did adore your photo from last year though. So original and fun.
BTW, I am excited to hear about your adventures abroad in France.


8 kiera December 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I always know everything is okay if I’m in the same boat as you. I’ve felt so guilty and overwhelmed that I haven’t done Christmas cards yet. I haven’t gotten a pic of the fam, either. Maybe just individual photos? sighhh. don’t know.


9 Val December 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Send Happy New Year Cards!


10 bdaiss December 10, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I just ordered mine yesterday! I went with a decidedly non-holiday photo. Actually 5 non-holiday photos. Because I just didn’t feel like fighting the 1 year old, the 4 year old, or the 36 year old to get one. These capture a glimpse into our year, so what the hey. And honestly – I like photo cards. But I’m not picky if their holiday photos. Just something to see what folks are up to.


11 jenny December 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I always feel a little disappointed when I get a card without a photo…
especially when they have usually included one in the past.


12 Amy Kroff December 10, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Always, always, always a photo.


13 Marta December 10, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I thought I was the only one running late for the Christmas cards… I love the idea of the new year cards… I think I’m going to do that! thanks for the idea!


14 Kelly Ann December 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

With adorable kids like yours, photo all the way! Red snow boots included:) I know the hardest part can be getting the right photo, but maybe your mom wouldn’t mind helping out by addressing the cards?


15 Kim December 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Last year, we had to photograph two weddings just before Christmas. In preparing for those, finishing up school, and working, we didn’t have time to send out a card prior to the holidays. We sent out a New Years Card instead. I like to think it was a happy surprise in the mailbox after the holiday. :)


16 elz December 10, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Wait for the family photo; that’s what people want. But, I never send Christmas cards, we pick a random holiday (Groundhog, First day of Spring) and send then.


17 Heidi December 10, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Photo for sure! Unless the card has a really heartfelt message inside! I LOVE get photo cards at Christmas! (Even if they actually arrive after Christmas, I once received one in March!)


18 Jennifer December 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I admit that I usually don’t pay much attention to Christmas cards that come without photos. How about, instead of looking for the perfect family photo, just coming up with some kind of design with an individual shot of each child and include a pic of you and your hubby. Photos in a grid or some other simple design?


19 Jules December 10, 2010 at 2:40 pm

My friend sends out New Year cards every year. I look forward to it! If you ask my sister in-law, cards need to come with a photo. I like them either way, but am more and more intrigued by the idea of a card without photos. After all, with Facebook, we can now see families throughout the year.


20 EazilyAmuzed~Kelley December 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

I too am totally late on the card this year…in fact the last 3 years. My close friend made a plea on my Facebook wall stating that my child was too cute to not sit on their mantle this year. I think people like the card for the photo. I know I look forward to seeing all my friends lovely families ever year. There are some amazing print houses out there though, don’t get me wrong. In fact check out my friends line The Social Type on Etsy and Minted. The cute cards also get their place on the mantle but they might be strategically placed behind the photo ones. If I send my cards out next week I wonder if they’ll still make it…ugh. I totally have PSADD. Procrastination Sydrome coupled with Attention Deficit Disorder. I made that up, but it’s gotta be real!! Happy Hoildays everyone. :D


21 kyong December 10, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Definitely a picture :) i love being able to see how the kids have grown over the years. Especially if they live out of state & you don’t get to see them as often. I ordered my cards form Minted & I absolutely loved them :)


22 Nat The Fat Rat December 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Wasn’t sending photo cards once considered gauche? And now it’s flipped the other way! I ordered non-photo cards from Minted because I was running out of time, and we’re having some photos taken this weekend that I’ll print up and shove in the envelope. Every year I feel like I have great ideas for our Christmas card photo and then the month completely escapes me and I end up settling. Oh well. :)


23 Heidi December 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I hate getting cards without a photo…boring! =)


24 hairyshoefairy December 10, 2010 at 2:47 pm

My dad was in the hospital last Winter with H1N1 so my mom didn’t send out cards until Valentine’s. I just didn’t do any at all (she was staying with us and we were all taking turns all day visiting my dad). I wish I’d sent them later instead of just canning the whole thing. It was nice to see my mom’s card in the mail when it finally came. And yes, I prefer a photo. Just a card is great, but I like seeing what everyone looks like now, especially if it’s been years since I’ve seen them in person.


25 Ricci December 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm

People are gonna expect to see the faces of those gorgeous children in that envelope! Especially considering that June has changed so much since her birth announcements (assuming you sent them).

Happy New year cards are great and you can include a re-cap of how you spent the holidays. My aunt sent the most darling Valentines Day cards one year b/c of various family emergencies that interrupted her regular holiday cards :)


26 Amy Carter December 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm

If I get a card in the mail, I am way more excited about it if it has a picture. That said, I think a regular picture-less card is better than no card at all. I also don’t think it matters if the card arrives after Christmas – I leave my cards up for a display until after the first week of January!


27 Heidi December 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

What happened to appreciation for a hand written note inside a nice card? If someone thinks about me enough to write a message by hand and takes the time to mail it I don’t care at all what they may or may not include with it. It’s the THOUGHT that counts. I think sending someone a card wishing THEM a wonderful holiday is more important than any glossy photo or long-winded newsletter telling about personal accomplishments. I don’t have anything against photo cards, but I don’t understand that people say they don’t pay attention to cards without photos. I hope the recipients of my own photo-less and handwritten notes care more!


28 Lisa December 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Your family has done such amazing photos in the past, so you’ve set a pretty great precedent. I’d think your friends and family will be thrilled to see whatever you come up with after the new year. My parents have sent out New Years cards and Valentines cards . . . maybe even later than that! That said, I also think it’s sweet to get/send something at Christmas especially – I really like to let people know I’m thinking of them around the holidays. So even if I’m saying a quick hello and signing my name, at least I’m making some contact. And I’ve never been so with-it that I’ve done a family photo to go along with it.


29 Amy S December 10, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I say wait for the photo! I sent out New Year’s Cards the year my third was born and I knew it just wasn’t happening for Christmas. Or two other ideas: a. gather your kids around the tree/fireplace and take a cute candid in Christmas pajamas (or whatever). I don’t think it has to be a perfect portrait. b. find a great photo from earlier this year…on a vacation or something with all of you in it and send that.

Good luck!


30 Melanie December 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Photos are a must have – hence no christmas cards from us this year :( I’m feeling guilty about it each day when I open the mailbox and find more cards from friends and family. Next year for sure . . . . . or maybe a new year’s card. We’ll see.


31 Whitney December 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm

With kids just do what you can!!!!


32 M. Peterson December 10, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I’d say it’s better to just use the best photos you’ve got right now. Waiting for that perfect demonstration of your family to be caught on film isn’t the meaning of the season. Show them all with sloppy pride ;)


33 NicoleK December 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm

We’ve done it all ways… simple card, photo card, New Year’s Card with photo… St. Patrick’s day card with photo =)

I like to send pictures of either family or just my boys (we tend to alternate years) b/c so many of those on our holiday distribution list are not on FB.


34 marian December 10, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I love getting pictures, but honestly, your family gets pretty good exposure here, so if you have your heart set on Christmas cards, go for it.


35 robin December 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Family photo valentines!


36 Tarin Rafferty December 10, 2010 at 4:06 pm

What about individual snap shots on one card?


37 Holly Andler December 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm

we did the top 10 f 2010 card from shutterfly and have already gotten rave reviews. it had our top 10 memories from this past year and then 3 small pictures included. I just used pictures that I took and the ultrasound picture of our bun in the oven. i have always just signed cards with our name, but i loved giving people a little glimpse of our year this time.


38 Sharon December 10, 2010 at 6:17 pm

agree with whoever said facebook eliminates the need for a photo. A thoughtful message is more important to me.


39 Brooke Johnson December 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm

You’ve got the perfect sized family to pull off a Brady Bunch style card. Individual pictures (might be easier than getting everyone together) with each of you looking at the others. Merry Christmas filling in for Alice. :) I like mail no matter when I get it, and pictures are a nice addition, but I just like hearing from people. Our cards have a picture (actually 3 – making cookies) of our son, prior to his birth they were traditional cards with no pictures. What ever you decide I’m sure the families you send them to will love them.


40 Andrea Freeman December 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm

i love a photo on a christmas card but sometimes – it is just too hard and forced. i would rather send and receive a darling card, with or without a photo, than a card with a photo that just didn’t work. have a nice weekend! thank you for everything! you are an inspiration. :)


41 Tina B December 10, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I still love getting photo cards. I hang them all on my fridge for my whole family to look at. My sister-in-law was too busy for Christmas cards last year, so she sent Valentine’s ones. You could also send Happy New Year’s cards instead if you wanted!


42 Andrea December 10, 2010 at 7:59 pm

we just do “plain” cards (no photo) but this year i included a family portrait drawn by my 5 year old daughter- so much sweeter than a forced photo-op


43 Heather December 10, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Same dilemma I am having!
Tonight before reading this post, I did a semi-custom card on Olliegraphic, hoping it’s a compromise between photo & non-photo cards.
You can print your own on nice cardstock for a less expensive route (they send you a PDF).


44 Megan December 11, 2010 at 4:36 am

I’m a huge fan of photo cards or photos in Christmas cards! Really, it’s one of my favorite things of the holiday season. I love to see how families have grown over the year. I look forward to the mail every day. I wrote about how we save our Christmas cards at There are two super cute fun ideas for nontraditional cards here too. On the flip side, I do not have children and don’t feel the need to send a pic of just us… so my husband and I always send a card without a photo. Even if you have to wait until Jan. get the pic! Those late cards are always an extra special treat!


45 Paula J. December 11, 2010 at 6:23 am

We did Valentines for years, because we have more time then and we also found more friends and family responded to us in some way since it is outside the holiday and year-end rush. I love getting mail any time of year. My husband prefers to do holiday cards, though, because that’s what most people do. So we are shifting to this time of year. We will probably alternate in future years depending on my work schedule and other time constraints.


46 Whitney December 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

I’d definitely wait and do a photo as well.


47 naomi December 11, 2010 at 8:31 am

I would wait to send it until I had a picture – esp. if I had your beautiful children . . . folks will want to see the fam!


48 clipits December 11, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Every year we would send out real Christmas cards but this year we are using photo collage Christmas cards. Photos tell stories of important events of the year.


49 Ali Rockwell December 11, 2010 at 2:28 pm

OOoooo, I love the envelopes! I wish I had been thinking more clearly when I mailed ours out, I would’ve loved to line the envelopes! Dang it…


50 Melinda K December 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

This year I had all my cards made and no photo to tuck inside. At first I felt a bit guilty since the kids are all so young and I felt I had to have a picture in that envelope. In the end I sent them off without the family photo- figured it was better to send holiday wishes even if there was no picture. Most recipients are my facebook friends and see so many pictures all year.


51 Ashlea Walter December 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

re: your Christmas card photo
Oh my goodness, you HAVE to listen to this great program on NPR about the proliferation of family photos on Christmas cards. It’s funny and VERY thought-provoking:

I especially agreed with the article before I had kids and now Wren is on the cover of our Christmas card…


52 Damaris @Kitchen Corners December 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I do New Years cards now, actually I make post cards. I was always late on my Christmas cards so now I just do New Years.


53 Melissa December 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I think you should wait for a family shot. We’ve done our pictures and cards in a week, you can totally do it.

I’m not sure why photo cards are so important to me in this digital age, but I love seeing my friend’s families in my mailbox much moreso than a generic holiday greeting card.


54 heidi December 12, 2010 at 10:15 am

not sure how i managed on your site, but because i too am looking for inspiration for my holiday mailer, i though i would respond…

i would include a real-life pic of the family…one of your faves that may be sitting on your pc. just anything that you love… from the recent year!

i would send them in january if i had to!
happy looking!


55 Rebecca Grace December 12, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Wow, interesting debate. Personally, I am not a fan of the photo cards. I miss the great variety of artwork on Christmas cards from before the photo craze took hold. We used to use coffee can lids to trace and cut out circles from the fronts of Christmas cards and make three-dimensional ornaments out of the previous year’s Christmas card when I was a little girl, and I have fond memories of how I would go through the stack of cards carefully and think about which pictures would complement one another. Back then, you tucked a photo inside the real Christmas card. Whent the photos started coming INSTEAD of cards, I felt annoyed and ripped off. But then, I have four fountain pens on my desk, right next to the computer monitor, and — gasp! — I actually WRITE with them every day! So I’m probably all alone with my nostalgia for the good old days of Christmas cards, bottled ink, and horse-drawn carriages without heat. ;-)


56 esther December 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm

use the one of all the kids gathered around June when you came hom from the hospital! totally love that picture and its better than no picture. i just always look forward to christmas cards with pictures but no picture is better than no card! we got our picture taken at thanksgiving and are so excited to send out our first christmas card as a family since welcoming our son jacob!

i can’t wait to see what you come up with!


57 Amanda December 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Send out Christmas cards with or without a picture. If you are set on sending a picture, then include one with all the kiddos when June was born. It was the most important moment of the year, and it would make a great Christmas card picture. Merry Christmas!


58 Carolina December 12, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I’m thinking of just shooting a really informal picture (like me holding the camera and taking a picture of me and my hubby). I think I’ll let it symbolize that real life is busy and sometimes does not accommodate getting the perfect Christmas card photo. I’ve only been married for 15 months so this is only my second family Christmas card of my own, but I love the tradition of photo cards. I have no doubt you’ll do something great!


59 Petit Elefant December 12, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I’ve gotten cards in April before. I don’t even care, I just love getting cards from my friends, any time of the year.

Pictures are bonus points.


60 Steph December 13, 2010 at 8:43 am

We had a good experience with Tiny Prints and they let me know when the quality of one of my photos wasn’t ideal. I really appreciated that.


61 rob December 13, 2010 at 9:05 am

i’ve been making card ornaments (in limited quantities) for our christmas card for the last 6 years. they’re on the theme of the 12 days of christmas. i’m assembling 50 swans-a-swimming this week.
last year i did geese and a couple of photo cards (my son was 10 months old, so it was sort of “necessary” to have a photo of him sent to some people :)


62 Lie Shia Ong December 13, 2010 at 10:12 am

Love the envelopes!


63 Mary Ann December 13, 2010 at 11:04 am

I think it’s Gretchen Rubin who sends out Valentine’s cards in lieu of Christmas cards to avoid the Christmas chaos. Not a bad idea.


64 Ester December 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

What Heidi said.

Plus I think Christmas cards with photos are a solely American tradition anyway – so if you omit photos this year, you’re just going European :)


65 Jill December 13, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I also do Valentine’s Day cards…. I think Photo for sure…


66 plaeground December 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Photos for sure!! It is nice for people who don’t get to see you often, see how the kids have changed. And who says it has to be Christmas Cards? Anytime is a good time to send cards. Remember when we used to write letters to people instead of emailing or texting them?



67 abby December 14, 2010 at 8:12 am

wait till you get a photo! it’s no fun to get holiday cards without pics…especially when people know you have so many cute kids that they don’t get to see pics of. make it a happy new year or valentines day card!


68 Kerry Batty December 14, 2010 at 11:26 am

This is the same question that I wrestled with this year. I put a few options in front of my husband & let him choose – mostly because he has the tendency to make weird faces in photos so choose a Christmas card is always a toughie. The choices were 1 card with a photo & 1 without – he chose the one with the photo. But I would MUCH rather send a card without a photo than one with a bad one.

Love the idea of a New Year’s card! Did some for my sister-in-law last year. She had baby no. 2 too close to Christmas to think about getting cards out, but New Year’s was do-able. Got a great response! We took a shot of the kids under the Christmas tree for it!


69 Alli December 14, 2010 at 10:43 pm

I have friends that send a happy new year card every year, which I love and look forward to. I also have friends that send a card on the Chinese New Year (and they are not Chinese) both are great! I think a photos are always great to see… especially with the new family addition.


70 jody December 16, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I am in the same boat for a different reason… because one member of our family is not ready for her photo yet! Baby girl was due on December 10th; now a week late and counting! So I will send out a combination Christmas/Birth Announcement card after Christmas. I will design the card myself (already have a good start) but I really can’t do much more until I have photos to use.

Good luck with your cards. How many do you send out? It must be a huge list. Does it grow every year? How and when do you edit out old friends whom you have grown out of touch with? It’s always a question for me.


71 Angie December 20, 2010 at 6:33 pm

I agree with Heidi. I find photo cards without even a handwritten signature — much less any personal message to the recipient — to be really impersonal!


72 Laura December 26, 2010 at 2:39 pm

In France, it’s customary to send greeting cards until Jan 31st so… when in Rome…
Growing up in France, my (British) mother would often use that as an excuse when she ran out of time in December.


73 Lynn February 13, 2011 at 8:00 am

Not a fan of the photo card, except perhaps for family and VERY close friends. Otherwise, an exercise in self-absorption.


74 Kendra December 19, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Don’t you have some non-traditional (candids) shots of your family enjoying France? I would think this year, especially, you could trade the family portrait for a collage of your adventures in France or a representative photo or two of you guys enjoying life there. I’m sure you must have a million great photos taken this year!


75 Cheryl Burchett December 20, 2011 at 5:22 am

I usually procrastinate and send new years greetings. This year we found out that we were expecting early in december, so we ordered our cards and put a maternity announcement inside! These have been the most eagerly awaited cards EVER! I just mailed them on monday and can’t wait for the surprise to have sunk in


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