Store-bought holiday cards can be expensive, and let’s face it: they can be boring too.
If you are interested in inexpensive, creative options for your holiday cards, you have plenty to choose from.
Each of the following designs can be adapted to your personal tastes, so you can just get the look you want without spending a lot of money on your holiday cards.
Make a Christmas Tree Pop-Up Card
This tutorial has the templates and the instructions you need to make your own Christmas card with a pop-up tree inside.
You could easily personalize it by printing a message on the backing card, using colored paper, or even decorating the pop-up tree with glitter.
Downloadable Kirigami Templates
If you want to take the pop-up card theme a bit further, this site uses the principles of Kirigami – art made with cut paper.
There are several free downloadable templates, including a world peace theme, bells, a gift box and even an elegant pop-up monogram.
You can also find several more free, downloadable templates on Robert Sabuda’s site, including a Hanukkah menorah.
One of the best things about these cards is that they are stunning when done on plain white card stock.
Glitter Clip Art Deer Cards
Who else but Martha Stewart would have so many handmade Christmas card ideas? This particular style is simple, beautiful, and inexpensive.
You just print out the provided clip art deer designs, and use glue and glitter to make beautiful silhouettes. The site recommends a limited color palette for a more elegant look.
You can buy a kit with everything you need, or you can just buy the supplies individually at a mass retailer or craft store.
Accordion Fold Photo Cards
Here’s another idea from Ms. Stewart that could be used for any number of occasions, including Christmas.
They’re very simple to make with your own photos, and the accordion fold ensure that they’ll stand out from the recipient’s other Christmas cards.
Dingbat Fonts + Image Editing Software = Simple, Cute Cards
With card stock, the “dingbat” font that comes with most word processors, and basic image editing software, you can create simple, elegant holiday cards personally designed by you.
This design uses a repeating tree pattern. You don’t need graphics software, because most word processing programs have an “art” function to help you make colored boxes and add clip art.
Or you can use image editing software. If you don’t have Photoshop, you can use free open-source software like GIMP.
DIY Instagram Cards
Instagram has been huge in 2013, and these cards will be a great reminder of the era in years to come.
To make these lovely, personal cards, you need some of your Instagram photos in JPEG format saved to your computer, card stock, copy paper, canvas paper, a ruler, needle and thread (or sewing machine).
The page has step-by-step instructions, and the final product is beautiful, personal, and different from what most people get in their mailboxes during the holidays.
Bulk Postcards from Vistaprint.com
This is a great option if you send out a large number of cards. You have custom postcards made on Vistaprint, using the option that lets you upload your own photo for the front of the card.
You can also design the back of the card to include a return address or greeting.
Creative family photos or pet photos work great for these, and postage for postcards is $0.33 each (versus $0.45 for first class letters). The lack of an envelope makes them a bit more eco-friendly too.
It doesn’t take a lot of money, time (the holidays are right around the corner!), or artistic skill to create really lovely holiday cards for those on your list.
You can be sure that your cards will stand out among the mass-produced cards your recipients get, and if you save one for yourself, you’ll have a lovely memento of the 2013 holiday season.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.