I love staying in touch with the people I love by way of Christmas cards. I enjoy hearing from friends far and near around the holidays. However, sending Christmas cards out to family and friends can get expensive, especially if you have a tight budget.
Today I want to share with you 6 tips to save lots of money on your Christmas card tradition!
Here are 6 ways you can save money on Christmas cards:
1- Make it Digital
While getting something in the mail adds a special touch these days where “snail mail” correspondence is infrequent, it really increases the cost of Christmas cards. If your budget is tight this year, consider making the switch to a digital holiday greeting. Emailing a family picture and annual letter out to your family and friends won’t cost you anything. We have family friends who create a video montage of their year with a creative narrative twist and then publish it on YouTube and email the link to everyone on their list. You can still make a digital Christmas card personal and thoughtful even without sending it in the mail.
2- Trim Back Your List
It’s always hard for me to take someone off of the Christmas card list, but the truth is that I do it every year. There are always people on the list who we haven’t heard from in years (or decades) and our lives have clearly drifted apart. Every year we get some Christmas cards returned to us because the address has changed. Trimming down your list is a practical way to save money on Christmas cards.
3- Hand Deliver to Locals
In addition to sharing our annual card with friends and family who live far away, we have local friends and family that are also on our list. To save on postage, consider delivering your cards to those who are local. Now driving from house to house certainly won’t be cheaper than a stamp, but bringing cards for co-workers to work or church friends to church will save you money.
One of the best ideas I’ve seen was at our church when we were in law school. Every Christmas they put a wooden mailbox in the foyer with card-sized mail slots for each letter of the alphabet. On Sundays during the holidays each family could check the slot that corresponded with their last name to retrieve any Christmas mail that other members of the congregation had “sent” them. Even now, I send a stack of cards for friends in our old area to one friend who distributes our cards through the church Christmas card system.
4- Make Your Own Photo Cards
Photo cards are very popular these days. I love the personal touch that photo cards give. It’s fun to see how families change as kids grow or new ones come along. Instead of buying actual photo cards, consider creating your own. Using simple photo editing programs like PicMonkey, Canva, or even Picasa, you can add a greeting and signature to your family picture, then have it printed as a regular 4×6 print. The costof a 4×6 print is much less than an official photo card, especially when you’re printing in bulk.
You can often find great deals on 4×6 prints that will make them even cheaper. Walgreens often has a deal where you can get 10 cent prints when you buy 75+ prints.
5- Get a Great Deal
During October through December, there are loads of great deals on photo (or just personalized) Christmas cards. Here are a few tips for getting the best deal:
- Choose your picture early, so you are ready to pull the trigger when a great deal comes along. In the past, I have had to pass on some great deals because we hadn’t taken family pictures yet. Now I have learned to get pictures early (though we haven’t done so yet this year).
- Watch for deals and freebies. Every year there are awesome deals and freebies for photo Christmas cards.
- Don’t be afraid to diversify. You might be able to get 10 free cards from one company and a great deal on 20 cards from another company. That’s fine! You don’t have to get all your cards from the same company. Your recipients don’t care if the card they get is slightly different than the card someone else gets.
6- Skip the Tradition All Together
I know there are some of you out there who are thinking the best way to save money on Christmas cards is to not send any. It’s true that this option would save the most time and money. If money is tight and time is limited, keep this in mind as a real possibility. You can always jump back on the Christmas card bandwagon next year.
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved the tradition of Christmas cards. My family never sent them, but I loved receiving them and reading all the family updates from friends and relatives. Sending an annual Christmas card has been a priority for me. In fact, I put a lot of time and effort into writing an annual poem to send along with a photo card. I write a stanza for each of us along with general family updates. Besides sharing with family and friends, I love having the annual poem as a snapshot of each person’s character and accomplishments that year.
How about you?
- Do you send out Christmas cards? Are they photo cards? Do you send along a letter or poem as well?
- How do you save money on your holiday cards?
Originally published in November 2014. Updated December 2019 to include in Frugal Festivities: 25 Days of Christmas Cheer on a Budget.