With the holidays fast approaching, now is a great time to think about creative ways to share your favorite images as gifts for family and friends or perhaps to enhance your own home. Most commonly we share images via social media and, for more special occasions, as prints. Review this classic post for a list of 10 ideas for sharing your images: Post on Image-Sharing Ideas.
In today’s post, I discuss three of these methods that are particularly festive and well-suited to the holiday season: cards, calendars, and keepsakes.
A likeness of one of the earliest holiday cards my wife and I created. The original version was in black-and-white and had a humorous caption at the bottom. This version was made more recently using a modern digital process.
Cards: For the entire 31 years we’ve been together, my wife and I have sent our families and friends custom-made holiday cards. We created our first card in 1986, the year we started dating. The process was extremely complicated back then. We had to take the photograph using a film camera, send the film to a lab for processing, wait for the prints to be mailed back to us, select the image we wanted to use, cut the print down to the right size, tape it onto a printed template we had to design ourselves using a primitive word processor, and photocopy it onto card stock at a graphics store. It was strictly a black-and-white affair because color copying was very expensive in that era. Even for black-and-white cards, the cost was quite high.
Today, the process is vastly simpler and less expensive, and the quality very high. There are countless companies that will take your photo files and caption information, blend them with a design you choose from their library of sometimes up to hundreds of choices, and create an attractive customized card for a range of occasions. Shop around carefully before selecting one, because price, quality, and flexibility vary tremendously. My current favorite is Snapfish. Even though I no longer use Snapfish to host my image galleries, I continue to create and order photo cards from this site because it offers a good range of card designs, reasonably high printing quality, and affordable pricing. There are often very deep discounts available at Snapfish and other photo sharing sites. Try using a search engine to find discount or coupon codes. I rarely pay more than 60% of the listed price.
When creating a card on any platform, there are a few basic steps to follow. First, you choose the card design from a library of choices. There may be only a few designs for some types of occasions, but for the winter holidays there are usually dozens to choose from. Then you upload your images if they’re not already on the site, and select where you want them to go in the card template. Next, you add captions to customize the card. You may be able to include a return address on the envelopes shipped with the cards. Be sure to review your card carefully before ordering. The final step is to place your order by specifying the quantity (per-unit prices usually drop when ordering larger quantities), shipping address, and payment information.
Calendars: Photo calendars make great holiday gifts because they are personal, functional, and seasonal (the weeks before the start of the new year is typically when your loved ones will be looking for a calendar). Every year I create a calendar with images that present the past year in review. I send it to several family members and keep one for my own home and one for my office. As with cards, calendars can be ordered from a wide variety of companies with differing levels of quality and cost, so shop around.
Creating a calendar is similar to making a card. You choose a size and design, upload your images, and lay them out on the calendar template. Some sites allow you to further customize your calendar by including special dates such as birthdays, anniversaries, and other events important to your family or friends. The better companies let you include a photo to represent each special date during the year, and will save these dates for creating new calendars in future years. The ordering process for calendars is similar to that for cards: review the calendar and then place the order. Again, you may be able to find discount or coupon codes that will substantially lower your cost.
Keepsakes: These days, it seems that images can be reproduced on nearly any type of item you can imagine. This variety translates into a high likelihood of finding something for everyone on your gift list. I use SmugMug, the platform that powers my online professional photography business, for nearly all of the keepsakes I order as gifts, and my clients also have been happy with their purchases of these items. There’s a wide array of keepsake items to choose from, each customized with your image(s), including coffee mugs, coasters, smartphone cases, playing cards, desk organizers, and stickers.
To make a keepsake, simply upload your photo(s) if they’re not already on the site, select the type of item you want to order, ensure the image is cropped and/or sized appropriately for the item, and go through the checkout procedure.
This holiday season, get creative. Share your images on holiday cards, calendars, and a range of keepsakes. It’s never been as easy or inexpensive to make these items as it is right now, so have fun and experiment.
What are your favorite ways to share you images during the holiday season? Please add a comment with your ideas.
Want to read more posts about sharing your images? Find them all here: Posts on Sharing.