I realized that I have shared bits and pieces of the holiday postcard packets that my friend Katie and I brainstormed, but I thought I would organize everything into one post in case you are interested in the details of how they came together. Even if you’ve already chosen your greetings for this year, maybe you’ll want to file this idea in the back of your mind for future card occasions?
To start, I designed two different postcards using Adobe Illustrator, one for Christmas/Hanukkah, and one for New Year’s. (You could also make postcards using blank cards from a craft store, or buy ready-made holiday postcards on Etsy. There are some particularly adorable ones at Hen Pen Designs.) I had mine printed through Vistaprint in batches of 100, then sold the extra on Etsy. If you sign up for emails, Vistaprint will send you large discount codes (30% – 50% off, sometimes the items are even “free” if you pay shipping costs) fairly regularly, and they also had a big Cyber Monday sale.
During that sale, I also ordered return address labels from Vistaprint ($5 for 140, which is annoyingly more than the $3 they used to be but I haven’t shopped around for another source yet). I purposely chose a design (red berries on tree branches) that was holiday-ish, but could be used year-round without seeming too out of place.
I ordered A2 size envelopes from Paper Source in a few different colors: persimmon red, cement gray, and kraft paper. I ordered paper tags that said “Sending love and good cheer, Sharon & David” from these two lovely Etsy shops: Pumped on Paper and White Pixel Fence Graphic Design. I loved those thick, washi tape-adorned, banner-style tags from POP! And I ordered gold and silver bakers’ twine from Knot & Bow.
(Gee, realizing as I write this that I did a lot of ordering! However, I ended up with extras of most of these things, so they can be used for other projects or future Christmas cards. I am not normally this crafty, was just particularly inspired this year. But, I admit it, sometimes I feel a little bit like one of my favorite Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” pictures. Lucky for me, David really is pretty understanding when it comes to reasonable amounts of creative and gifty items. I have a hilarious true story along these lines, but will save it for the end of the post because this is getting a big long already.)
When I sat down to assemble everything, I did not write on the backs of the postcards. I figure that way this is like a “card” and a “gift” rolled into one; my friends and family could either keep the postcards as our holiday greetings to them, or have a little piece of cheer to mail to their own friends or family. I tied one holiday postcard, one New Year’s postcard, and one tag together with bakers’ twine for each person. (It takes about 14 inches of twine to go around the two cards as pictured.) Then I slid them in envelopes, and tried to seal them extra securely to make up for the pokey parts of the tags and twine.
One thing I really like about this card idea is that it has two “levels.” For the less papery or discerning people on my card list (you know Great Uncle Bob probably doesn’t care much about having his own postcards to mail to his buddies), I will use one of the holiday postcards, write on the back, and mail it with a postcard stamp. That way you can even save a little money on postage, but still have a unique and personalized card to mail to close friends and acquaintances alike.
According to the weight of the cards, they are fine to mail with a regular 45-cent postage stamp. That is what I did with the first 29 I mailed, and so far it seems like they are making it to their destinations. However, I did have a moment of panic when a postal worker felt the 30th envelope (I happened to be at the post office mailing an Etsy order) and said that they wouldn’t go without an extra 20-cent stamp, because they were “rigid.” I think the postcards alone might be fine, but depending on the tag and twine you use, you may want to take the time to visit the post office to be sure you are stamping them correctly. Creative card-making lesson learned the hard way! (However, I hope this warning will at least save you a night of stomach-sinking disappointment, and watching a Paul Walker/Joshua Jackson movie you might dig out from your college collection of teenybopper DVDs hidden behind the “real films” in your TV stand. Yes, yes I did do that when I thought I had this epic paper person fail of stamping my first 29 Christmas cards incorrectly. My husband was out of town, lest you think he was a party to this ridiculous choice of weekend entertainment.)
Okay, so lastly here is the funny story about craft supplies and family budgets. One of my dear friends from college, Ariel, married an enthusiastic Michigan fan. Her father-in-law is, of course, an avid Michigan fan too. So he and her mother-in-law have made this fantastic deal, whereby whatever he spends on football season tickets, she gets to spend on quilting supplies! I haven’t exactly priced season tickets to traditional football powerhouse programs lately, but I think that buys a lot of craft materials. I believe this is one of my favorite mental images of all time, a his and hers compromise on the family budget that results in a spare bedroom bursting with stacks of quilting supplies and enthusiastic planning of autumn around the prized season tickets shared with family and friends, both husband and wife completely happy with their arrangement. Love that story.
Happy card mailing! Let’s go spread some cheer!