Top Mistakes Parents Make with Holiday Cards

Not sure if you’ve noticed all the leaves on the ground lately. Fall snuck up on us like it does every year, it seems. Soon enough we’ll have Halloween and shortly after that, the holiday season. And as festive as that time of the year is, it’s also when (as Moms) we start thinking about our annual holiday cards.


Not being in the photo

This is #1. It’s first because this is the one mistake I make the most. But the time I get around to holiday cards, the last thing I want to deal with is being in the photo with my children. So why is it important? Because your friends and family members have a bigger connection to you than they do to your children! If you’ve ever received a card with just kids in the pictures and said to yourself “I have no idea whose children these are”, you know what I’m talking about! So make the effort. Put on some makeup. Do your hair. Or hey, maybe do a professional photoshoot with someone who can make sure you look good in the photos.. and put the whole family on the card this year!

Treating it as just a card

I will never forget the time a client of mine pulled out her stack of holiday cards from the past 10 years. These cards aren’t just short-lived pieces to throw away when January comes around. If you collect them and keep them safe, they make one of the best memory archives you can have. What else do you have, in a single piece of paper, that so beautifully sums up the entire year? I order a few extra cards ever year, so I can start building up my little family archive, too.. because 10 or 15 years from now, flipping through all those cards is going to be absolutely priceless.

Not getting quality photos

There are a lot of parents that use their iPhone photos for the holiday card. And listen, I totally get it if you have no interest in doing the whole professional photo session thing. But you can still dedicate some time and effort to creating images that are more than everyday snapshots. Use your big fancy camera (or ask a friend who does.. everyone has a friend who’s into photography!) and get a picture that’s better quality. Find a nice spot. Coordinate your outfits. Get a photo that’s actually sharp and in focus.. and care about your friends and family who will be putting your card up on their fridge and looking at it every day.

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Mixing different types of shots

The other thing you might want to avoid is mixing different types of photographs on your card. It might be tempting to throw a few candids from your iPhone library in, alongside a professional portrait that you paid lots of money for. In the end, mixing different types of photography (specifically different quality of images) makes the card seem disjointed. It makes your candid cell phone photos seem terrible in comparison to the professional shot.. and it cheapens the feel of the professional photo by lowering the quality of the card overall. If you have a beautiful family portrait to use, make it count - you don’t need to throw a bunch of other stuff in.

Following trends

There are people who follow trends.. and there are people who have their own style. When you have a style of your own, you don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. What is popular right now might not suit your taste. It might not reflect your family at all. So who cares if it’s IN this season? Pick your card design based on what feels right to YOU, not by what everyone else is doing. I, personally, love the look of beautiful floral and highly decorated cards.. but in the end, I’m just not that type of person.

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Waiting until last minute

Not properly planning for a busy November lands many parents in trouble when it comes time to deal with the holiday cards. Prices skyrocket with any rush shipping option.. and printing/shipping takes time. As much as two weeks for regular turnaround. So if you waited until the last minute thinking that you’ll have a whole week to send stuff out, you won’t. This is one of the biggest reasons I work with the specific print lab I do. They turn things around in 48 hours and have overnight shipping. Now, that doesn’t mean you can wait until the last moment.. but it does mean that you can get that rush-shipping experience at no extra cost.

Doing everything themselves

This is another one of the things I’m 100% guilty of. I try to do everything myself, always. Often, it results with too much on my plate. Stress and anxiety follows closely after. So why not let someone else handle all the little details?

Using auto-enhance on images

This one little thing will completely ruin any professional-quality photographs if you’re doing your own cards. Ordering software tries to do you the favor of “fixing” images you upload for your holiday card design. This might work well on photos you take yourself, but any professional portraits should not be “auto enhanced” (which bright up the contrast and often loses detail).

Taking things too seriously

In the end, we put so much effort, thought, and consideration into our holiday cards that sometimes it ends up being a bit too much. We all want that perfect photo. The perfect design. The perfect card. But why not have fun with it? Why not include a silly photo? Why not bring a little cheer along with the rest? Your friends and family will probably really love it!

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And to make things a little easier for Moms and Dads, I will be offering custom-designed holiday cards this year. The cost will be the same as popular card sites like Minted and Tiny Prints, with a design fee to cover the process of creating the card itself. And the best part? Nobody else will have holiday cards exactly like yours! Email me if you’re interested! (info@nlalorphotography.com)