Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Card Tips

If you are a reader or friend of mine, then you probably know that I am a paper girl. I have my own line of botanical note cards and I also sell several lines of personalized stationery like notepads, wedding invites, baby announcements and holiday cards.  Following is a list to help keep you focused & organized with your holiday cards, so that you can spend time on shopping decorating & cooking.

#1 Choose the photo. I personally think that your holiday card should include a photo. In this day & age you should send a photo along with your well wishes. If including a family photo, make sure you choose a shot where all members look decent. No poles sticking out of heads. Good lighting, please! No closed eyes, unless it is a sleeping baby! One of my cards had a sleeping baby & it turned out adorable! Also, there are so many options of cards, that you can choose individual photos (see below).

#2 Choose your greeting & double check all spelling. If saying the family name, The Marquardts, do NOT add an apostrophe. I did this one year, without thinking, and had to re-do all of my cards, ugh! Always have another pair of eyes check your wording before printing!

#3 Choose your card. Be careful not to let the design of the card overwhelm the photo. The design should complement the photo or help to tell a story.

#4 View the card before purchasing. Online viewing of proofs is very commonplace & yes, you should shell out the extra dough for this. Period. This may lengthen the process of ordering the card, but it is well worth the extra time!

#5 Order a few extra, at least 5-10. If you have leftovers they can go into a Holiday Card Scrapbook or the kids' memory box.

#6 Use a return address, always! You will be surprised how many cards come back to you!

#7 While waiting for your card to be printed, get your mailing list in order & purchase your stamps. I always print my list on paper first. I make edits before printing on labels.

#8 Allow time for assembly & addressing of the holiday cards when they do arrive. Allow time for affixing bows or photos. I use evening tv time for assembly!

#9 Assemble with clean hands in a clean space. Do not assemble while wearing colored nail polish as this can easily rub off!

#10 Do write personal notes to family members. It can be as simple as, "Thinking of you during this holiday season!"

#11 If you include a holiday letter, please do not be too boastful. This turns people off.

#12 Always take the card to the post office (fully assembled) and have it weighed PRIOR to mailing. Last year I had my card weighed before I put on the address label & the weight was fine. Just to be sure I had it weighed againand sure enough I needed more postage!! Who would think that an address label would push it over the limit? I bought more postage & added the stamps while in the post office. I certainly did not need 150 cards coming back to me!!

#13 NEVER mail the card so that it is received before Thanksgiving (that's for my U.S. readers).  The only exception is if it's a Thanksgiving card. That's the only exception!!

#14 Electronic cards do not count. They are better than nothing, but they do NOT qualify as a holiday card. Got me?

Other ideas

  • You can send New Year's cards if you cannot get your picture until the holidays. OR you are waiting for the snow pic
  • I have a friend that sends a Valentine's card, which is a welcome piece of  mail in February!
  • You can  let people know of a new address with a holiday greeting. I love baby announcements with holiday greetings. Or how about a wedding picture with a holiday greeting? They make everyone's heart melt!
Sources for cards

  • Your local stationer~allow time to peruse their books & for production & shipping. This is the best way to observe the quality of the card & photo. Also, your stationer can guide you in the myriad of options & details. (read: customer service) 
  • Homemade~I have made homemade cards in the past & they take considerably more time than ordering from a source. Just be sure to test your paper & make sure you have loads of extra ink cartridges! Use a bone folder to help fold paper. Purchase your envelopes first, as this can also be a tricky time trap!
  • Online sources~be prepared to spend time looking for the right card! I ordered this year's card from *Tiny Prints*. (NO, I am not receiving anything from them). I was very pleased with their customer service (in October) and they exceeded my expectations. I was very happy with their quality & selection, as well. I have used *Minted* in the past & was somewhat disappointed with their service. However their quality is excellent. And perhaps by now, they have added more qualified customer service reps. I have received cards that were from *Vistaprint* & *Mac* & thought that their quality & design were very good.  *The biggest negatives in ordering online is that you cannot feel the weight & quality of the card. If you have time, order a sample.*
  • Local~Drug stores & one stop shopping places. I am not a huge fan of their products, however, they do tend to be very budget minded. Try to coordinate your pic with a cute saying that ties the photo to the card. 
  • Traditional photo cards~if you are ordering a photo to place on a card (rather than a digital card where the photo is printed directly on the paper), be sure you preview the photo before ordering a large amount. In our smaller city, we are currently without a high quality photo lab that will deal directly with customers. This may not be a consideration if you live in a larger city. 
In a future post I will show you this year's card. Here is our 2009  holiday card that I ordered from *Minted*:

The actual card is grommeted & is a short storybook. 

*Each of the photos of the kids was cropped to take advantage of the Peace, Love, Joy story here. I sacrificed a bit of the photo quality to get the story~a tradeoff~ 

*The family photo is a bit unique, but if you are a boater you can appreciate this. It is almost impossible to get a shot of your family on your boat, unless it is planned. Many times you are too busy having fun & getting equipment in & out of the boat to care about a family photo. It takes a bit of planning & luck!  This was taken by my friend Tom, who was on their boat, while we were on a trip. Do you see that large rock behind us? Um hmmm, we didn't hit it. Thanks to my husband's quick reactions. Also, there is this other matter called waves & the resulting rocking of the boat. Tricky stuff!

After looking at this card, I am amazed at the changes in my kids in just one year! I think my favorite thing about the holidays is receiving cards from friends & families. I know my whole family is excited to check the mailbox! And yes, we do argue over who gets to open the cards!!

I would love to hear your feelings about holiday cards! Do you love seeing how your friend's & family's lives have changed? Does it make you feel more connected? I am looking forward to the holidays & re-connecting with others via their greetings. I wish I could check the mailbox, but it is too early! One week to go!

(After writing this post I found many of my holiday cards dating back to 2000 and the photos going back to 1998! Would you like to see pictures of my past cards? Including the "eyes closed" photo? )

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slipcovers & a Painted White Kitchen Table

If you read my last post, you know that I was experiencing some disk storage issues on my computer. I deleted a lot of stuff (emails, mostly) and I am functioning, for now. I will be ordering some more memory & might even give you a tutorial on how I install it. While traipsing through my photos I found the "before pics" of my kitchen table & chairs. Are you ready? Let's start with the after:

I love the comfort and style of my new table and chairs. I made sure to have a glass top made for the table. We do homework here & now I don't worry about the table top at all!

Here you can see how well it coordinates with the adjoining living room. I have 3 pieces of distressed white furniture and several yellow pieces in my living room.

I love the white trim & yellow walls against the piping & covered buttons. 

I have fallen head over heels with slipcovers because of their washability! I also had these little coverlets made to protect the seat cover. A little added protection that can get thrown in the wash with ease!

A close-up of the cording & pleated skirt. All 100% washable!

I am still working on lighting & window treatments. 

The dreaded before pics:
 Do you see the old painted white table in the background? About 8 years ago, I found it in a junk pile with 6 inches of snow on top of it. I didn't use the correct paint & after years of use & abuse, it had to be retired! I actually used these chairs for years, which don't match or even coordinate with each other! 

In this photo I was testing out chair height & width. Here you can see the walls & window trim. I am so glad that my husband agreed to have this room painted.

This table was a steal. It was very inexpensive & I bought it because I loved the pedestal base. It just needed a new paint job. I hired it done this time!

The slipcovers were created by a talented slipcover artist in our area. Which leads me to reveal one of my assignments. I will be showcasing local, talented businesswomen on my blog. You will get a glimpse of how they turned their passion into a business. The first person I will introduce you to is Lucy. She is the reigning slipcover queen in our area. She recently invited me & a group of women for lunch to her home. I was able to get a few photos of her work area. You will have to wait a little longer for the post. Here is the hostess gift (note cards with her company name) which I made & took to her:

I would love to know, have you finished any projects lately?  Do you use slipcovers?  Are you in love with white distressed wood, like I am? 

I am going to fix a cup of tea & enjoy my new chairs & kitchen table!