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.
For those people sending out photo cards, I noticed that at our local Big Box hardware store, that they had several “scenes” set up that would be perfect for a backdrop! They were up before Thanksgiving. There was a mom that had obviously thought it through…the children were in their Christmas outfits! so cute!
What a fun idea Tina!
Pamela South says
For many years I’ve looked year round at thrift stores for Christmas cards. If still in boxes, they are a very good deal… and out of boxes, I pick sets of two or three, or even single cards till I have the amount I need. When it’s time to send them, I love having a variety and am able to match cards to families or personalities.
How cool to be able to pick a card specific for who you’re sending it to!
Chhavi Agarwal says
Stephanie, great post! I will be including this in my upcoming roundup post, so excited. It has so many great idea.
Great ideas. Another strategy to save money that my friends switched to years ago: they stopped giving cards to people they saw locally…cards were only sent to family and friends who lived remotely, or hadn’t been seen that year. My friends did a great job communicating that decision and change to everyone living locally, so no feelings were hurt when no card appeared.
I use many of the ideas listed above to save money on cards. I also occasionally make them. Photos, if any, are just printed on regular paper and enclosed in a card. An additional thought to go along with Idea #2 is to Just Say No to adding new people to the Christmas card list. I am much, much more selective now than I used to be.
This is the first year my mother is likely to be in a nursing home for Christmas, so I am preparing to send out her cards as well as mine. (This post was a timely reminder!) I bought a Big Box of Cards, at a good price, that would have been too many for me, but will (hopefully) serve for both of us.
[email protected] says
My husband is in the process of making ours for this year. We do a photocard with a quick note on the back. Our list is sitting at about 75 people. After everything, I expect the overall cost to be about $100. I haven’t decided if that is too expensive. It probably is.
If it’s a priority and you budget for it then you’re probably fine! 🙂
My family has been sending out photo cards for Christmas for the past few years. While they are fun (and come on, who doesn’t love to get fun mail?) they do end up costing quite a bit, even after finding great deals and free shipping. What I do though, every year after Christmas, is find cute Christmas cards marked way down (75_85% is preferable) and hold on to those. I have quite a collection now of cute unopened Christmas cards for those years when our budget is really tight. I like the dollar store idea too, I’ll have to check out our dollar store this year.
I love the idea of stocking up at after Christmas sales. If only you could get postage at a discount and stock up!
Pamela South says
No discount, but you can buy Christmas stamps all year round. I buy stamps once a month and slip in a few Christmas stamps as the budget allows.
That’s a great idea Pamela!
I’ve drastically trimmed the amount of cards I send out…..down to about 5 or 6. And I’m thinking of discontinuing completely. Since we are both retired, we just don’t have the same number of associates we once did.
I can see how the number of cards could diminish over time. That makes the task seem so much less intimidating.
My three sons are all grown up, and we still send out picture cards each year. In 1988, when my youngest was an infant, I dressed my boys and two of their cousins up for a nativity scene. I took several pictures and gave them to grandparents, parents, etc. I decided to get enough prints to include with our Christmas cards that year. Now, I always have included pictures of the boys in Christmas cards, but the nativity scene was a big hit. In the spring of 1989, I took my mom to visit one of my aunts that does not live near us. She had framed about 4 or 5 of my Christmas pictures from previous years and had it displayed on her mantle. She had 11 grandchildren and five children; none of these guys were displayed in her living room. When I showed the framed Christmas pictures to my mother, my aunt exclaimed, “The best gift I get each Christmas is from you. The pictures are always so cute and you have a wonderful little family.” I never thought about anybody anticipating my Christmas cards, but I make sure I still send them out to all my friends and relatives. Christmas is about family.
What a great story Candy! That’s so sweet that she had framed your Christmas pictures and really looked forward to them every year!
Mary Ann says
We really like sending Christmas cards and we notice that we receive many more the years that we send ours out. Many of the folks on our list are people we only keep in touch with once a year and we live pretty far from both of our families so it’s a nice tradition. My mom always sent a Christmas letter every year to extended family (our great aunts and uncles, etc.)and that is one thing they would always mention–they looked so forward to that annual letter! I’m not quite so reliable with it but on the years I send cards, I send to extended family.
Last year was the first year we have done a photo card and those were so easy to send that I think we’ll do it this year too. I need to start looking for deals! Last year, I got ours from 2 different places for super cheap!
I hand deliver as many as I can; also Dollar Tree has really nice cards. Boxes of 14 or 16 for $1.00.
That’s great that you hand deliver when you can and that you find great deals! I think getting a photo is so fun and personal. I love seeing how families have grown, especially when our only contact is once a year.
Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom says
We’ve sent cards off and on over the past couple years. Usually now we just slip a family photo in the card. I think our Christmas budget will be tighter this year, so maybe we’ll make the transition over to digital cards. Kinda sad.
You can always go back to traditional cards in the future when finances are better. Sending out a digital greeting at least lets people know you’re thinking of them!