By Jody Kerzman and Marci Narum
We don’t get a lot of mail anymore. Online bill paying, direct deposit, and social networks have cut down drastically on the contents of our mailbox. But this time of year, I often find our mailbox stuffed to the max. And I love it – because that means it’s Christmas card season! Technology has not taken away those yearly cards, letters, and pictures for many families. I have to confess: I just took down last year’s cards – I just love the photos so much I can’t bear to take them down!
Although getting everyone in the same place at the same time to snap a picture is getting difficult, we still send an updated family picture and a Christmas letter to our long list of friends and family each December. I’m happy to tell you, it’s not just my family that does this. In fact, Marci and I found a few women who feel pretty strongly about their Christmas greetings, and like me, make sending yearly photos and letters a top priority. But their Christmas cards are NOT your grandmother’s Christmas cards. These ladies are creative and their holiday greetings show it.
Christmas Newsletter – Cindy Arnold
When Cindy and Mike Arnold first got married, she wrote a family Christmas letter. Her idea was to give out-of-state family and friends a quick recap of their year. That was 23 years – and 23 Christmas letters – ago.
“It’s a tradition now,” she says. “Everyone kind of expects it. In fact, I talked about not writing one a few times and my aunt and my mom gave me a lot of grief. They’ve saved every letter over the years and didn’t want to have a year missing.”
Cindy’s kids are grown, but she keeps writing.
“I thought maybe once the kids grew up I’d run out of stuff to write about, but that hasn’t been the case,” she laughs. “This year, Mike took a new job, our son won some awards in the military, and our youngest daughter is thinking about transferring to a different college, so there will be plenty to write about.”
Cindy incorporates pictures into her newsletter-style Christmas letter, and writes short articles about each family member and event.
Christmas Calendar – Darcy VerDouw
Darcy VerDouw is a graphic designer and a photographer by trade, which means her Christmas
cards will knock your socks off. When Darcy and her husband Brian had their first child, Madeline, seven years ago, Brian begged Darcy to write a Christmas letter. Darcy didn’t want to. So, like all great married couples, they found some middle ground. Their solution? A Christmas calendar.
“I am a visual person, so for me, the idea of writing a letter about our year was really boring,” admits Darcy. “So, I came up with the Christmas calendar idea.”
As a photographer and a proud mom, Darcy snaps thousands of pictures every year. Come Christmas calendar time, she goes through those photos month by month. That helps her remember what happened each month. She chooses a photo for each month, writes a clever caption, and works her design magic, creating a one-of-a-kind Christmas greeting.
Picture Card – Alison Ritter
Alison Ritter always knew she wanted to send yearly Christmas cards to her friends and family, who are spread out around the country. She and now husband Bryce sent their first card when they were engaged.
When the couple got married, Alison was searching for a quick way to send thank you notes. She stumbled upon a service Hallmark. com provided – submit a photo, upload addresses in a spreadsheet, and Hallmark did the rest. She was hooked. She’s been sending her yearly Christmas cards through the same website ever since. Now, with two young boys to keep her busy, she appreciates the service even more.
“I could probably save some money by addressing my envelopes, adding my own stamps, and mailing my cards myself,” says Alison. “But, honestly, if I didn’t do it this way, my cards would never get done. To me, it’s worth every penny.”
Alison says having her addresses uploaded to the website has come in handy many times over the years. As long as she has internet access, all her contacts’ information is at her fingertips.
“I think there are more websites that offer this service now, but I’ve just stuck with this one because I already have all my addresses uploaded. I make changes throughout the year so it’s ready to go when I create my card.”
The Christmas Cardtacular – Rebecca Brick
For Rebecca and Ben Brick, this might be the most creative time of the year. Both are professional photographers, and Ben is a graphic designer. Their holiday greeting is like no other. But one year, Rebecca and Ben discovered that they share a common interest with their friends in the field: designing and creating elaborate and unique Christmas cards. So the Bricks decided to make it really interesting— by having a contest.
And with that, the Christmas Cardtacular was born, getting bigger and better after that first contest in 2013.
“We wanted to include more than just our friends,” Rebecca said. “We want to encourage other people to do something above and beyond more of the norm of having a picture made for Christmas. Have fun with the photo! It can be something fun and different, from your favorite TV show or an ad.”
This is the third year of the Christmas Cardtacular. Rebecca says their friends and family really look forward to participating in the contest—and receiving what is ultimately a unique gift.
“It’s really sending a little of yourself and who you are. We really have fun with it.”
If you want to join the fun, send your most creative, festive card to Rebecca at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is December 20th. The winner will be announced December 24th and will receive a one- of-a kind handmade Christmas card ornament, designed by Rebecca and Ben.