Family of N

Frugal Friday: DIY Christmas Photo Cards

Posted in Frugality by Laura on December 12, 2008


I didn’t realize until this year what a rip-off “photo cards” are. We decided that since many of our friends hadn’t seen a picture of Baby Savannah, we would include a picture of her with our usual letter and card. I thought it would be festive to use one of those holiday designs on this year’s picture.

But what I want to know is why the photo companies charge $1.00 or more for a “photo card” — which is no different from an ordinary print in their eyes — when a print costs a few cents. That’s some serious markup.

So what do I do? Open my favorite graphics editor (if you don’t have a favorite, try Gimp — it’s free!) and make a simple card myself.

The basic steps I use are:

    1. Create a 4″x6″ image (or 6″x4″ if you prefer landscape), using at least 300 dpi resolution.
    2. Copy and paste your digital photograph into the image. Resize it if necessary.
    3. Now you have a bunch of white space around your photo. Use a flood fill tool to fill it in with pretty solid colors or patterns. Gimp and other image editors have some default patterns, but you can download more for free at places like Deviant Art. (I’m still trying to figure out how to import Photoshop patterns into Gimp… if anyone figures this out, please let me know!) Or you can create your own by drawing dots or lines or whatever in another image that you leave open; usually you can tell your graphics editor to use that image as a pattern when you flood fill.
    4. Add your finishing touches, including some text wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
    5. Send the completed image to your favorite online photo developer.
    • Check before ordering to make sure you don’t miss a coupon code.
    • If you’re going to order a large number of photo cards, you may want to start with one test print before ordering the whole lot.

I got 40 picture cards printed on high-quality photo paper for $8 instead of $40 by doing this. I did the same for my mom and got her 200 for $22 (with a coupon code). Read that again: I could buy 200 for just about half what I would have paid for 40. And I like mine better than the premade ones they offer.

Christmas 2008 Card
Image by Laura

One Response

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  1. Kimmie said, on December 13, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Hi Laura!

    Wow, what a great way to create a beautiful card (love yours).

    Normally we send out Christmas cards, this year we opted out, as the $300 it costs us needs to be applied towards our remaining $7,000 in Little Beauty’s adoption (Ethiopia). Our thought was that if we didn’t send picture cards for Christmas, we could do a birth announcement when she arrives (and squeeze everybody in 😉

    I love your idea…your baby is beautiful. Your heart must be full of joy to the bursting!

    bless you;
    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

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