I think I’ve been planning this year’s Christmas cards since the summer. Every year I take a picture of my boys in some contrived seasonal setting. Last year we got lucky because there was a freshly cut wood pile at the Christmas tree farm we went to. It made a perfect, simple background for our photo. Then once I decide on a photo I choose photo cards from either Tiny Prints or WalMart – however generous I’m feeling. This works out to about 92¢ – $2.45 per card.
This year however, I want to keep my Christmas cards equally as creative, but not as expensive. And I’m not just talking about the cost of the actual cards. I want to save money through the whole process of creating and mailing holiday cards. So I put my thoughts together with some other frugal minds to come up with this awesome list of the best ways to save money on holiday cards.
1. Hit the thrift stores: Kathie N. Lapcevic from Two Frog Home has done it for years. You can often buy cards for about 10 cents a piece, sometimes 25 cents. Often, you can find awesome vintage ones too.
2. Shop with coupons: Charlie Cohn from CouponPal has shared some helpful coupons links to order custom-made holiday cards at a discount. Occasionally, these sites will even run free offers for new sign-ups.
• Tiny Prints
3. Free postage for those in need of holiday cheer: Maybe you’ve thought about crossing off some people on your list. That’s not a bad exercise. Many cards just get thrown in the recycling bin as soon as they’re opened. Janet Groene offered a better suggestion. Send cards postage-free to people who might otherwise be forgotten. Just address your holiday card to ANY GI at a VA hospital, or any nursing home resident and the staff will distribute the cards – no postage necessary.
4. Sometimes time is money: The Ink app easily turns Instagram photos into holiday cards. Claire Parker used it to sent a customized “Happy Fall” card to her far-flung-family for $1.99/card. The Ink cards are physical cards that arrive in the mail to your contacts and the price includes the stamp. Claire imported her iPhone contacts, so all her addresses were right there, then she could customize the cards very quickly, or just do one card and send it to everyone.
This option may not be the poster child for thrifty, but the time saved during the busy holiday season can be well worth it. Within 5 minutes, at your desk, on a lunch break, you can send out your holiday cards. No post office runs, no buying stamps, and no handwriting envelopes.
5. Personal delivery: In many cases postage costs as much as you’re actual card, so why not hand deliver? David Bakke from Money Crashers recommended delivering your cards personally during a holiday party for example, to save on postage. I couldn’t help but think you could “deliver” a paperless holiday card in the form of a singing telegram to those who live near enough. Think of all the Christmas carols there are to choose from!
6. Send a postcard: Save paper and postage by eliminating the envelope and reducing your postage from 46¢ to 33¢. I’m in love with this idea! This is an easy DIY idea. Just cut a piece of card stock to 4×6, decorate one side and split the backside between message and recipients address. Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home cleverly suggested you reuse and reinvent last year’s holiday cards into your own creations. For a postcard, you can cut out images and greetings from cards of Christmas past and Mod Podge them onto your card stock.
Want to just eliminate the envelope? Bea Johnson explained that you can do this by gluing your card shut (one drop is enough) and addressing it on one exterior side. The seal is then breakable by the recipient. Bea recommends a dot of glue instead of a round sticker because the backing of stickers is not recyclable.
7. DIY junk mail Holiday cards: Why not take all those holiday ads and recycle them into DIY recycled paper that can be fashioned into a Christmas card? Bea Johnson proposed making plantable cards using junk mail or school printouts. Here is my tutorial on recycled paper ornaments that can be used for inexpensive DIY cards!