You know why we all cling to summer so HARD by late August? Because we all know what’s coming down the pike. The holidays. When we talk about the holidays nowadays, we’re including back-to-school, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa in our “holidays” references. Because once you pack up your beach chair and succumb to autumn, you know you’re gonna get bulldozed by to-dos — the post-summer work uptick, parent-teacher conferences, bake-a-thons, non-stop cocktail parties and more. And it’s great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also overwhelming and exhausting and I often just want to stay in bed mindlessly scrolling through Instagram instead.
Chief among my holiday to-dos — and if I’m being honest, it’s the one I dread the most — is creating my annual Christmas card. Whether you’re a singleton, a newlywed, newly pregnant or have raucous family of six (which happens to be my case), sending out an annual holiday card to the people in your life is an old-school way of reminding everyone that you’re alive and well. And if you’ve done it in years past, you’ve set the precedent, which means you have to do it again, otherwise everyone in your life will say, “WHERE ARE THEY? ARE THEY OKAY?!” At least, in my mind this is how they will react.
Here’s why I dread the card-making process so much … I’m sure I’m not alone here. First up, you need a decent recent photo (or seven, depending on the card you choose), which requires sifting through the digital dumping ground that is your cell phone seeing if any of the pictures you captured on the fly this year is up to snuff. Most likely none are, which means you have to scramble to get a photo taken, and you’ve got to get everyone in matching-ish outfits, and their hair needs to be clean and oh yeah, you somehow have to convince your husband to put a shirt on and pose and guess what? He ends up being the most difficult person in the family and now you’re in a fight and for the love of all that’s good in this life why can’t everyone just sit still and freaking SMILE?!
Once you finally get that hallowed image, it’s time to find the right digital card vendor and pick a template and get ’er done. Simple! Except, it never is. I’ve been making a family holiday card for six years now and I’d estimate each one has taken me anywhere from 4 to 10 hours to create. Scrolling through endless options, trying to find one that fits my photo of choice and also communicates the messaging I’m looking to send (i.e. Christmas not Hannukah). It’s a total time suck — and it happens to come at a time of year where I’ve simply not got the time for a time suck.
So, this year I turned to Minted, the online marketplace for artists and designers who create super pretty stationary, artwork and holiday cards for the masses. After a quick perusal of Minted’s holiday selection I was won over by the options, which all seemed more unique and bespoke than the other online options. But what really swayed me were two things: First, Minted is offering custom envelope recipient printing for FREE. This is a service that typically costs a small fortune. But Minted is charging NADA people. Do you know how many hours I’ve spent hand writing my friends and family’s addresses? Many. No more!
The second reason I chose Minted was because of a service where you text your holiday card image/images to one of their designers and they text you back FIVE options that are best suited for your photo and needs within 48 hours. Seriously. Send over a photo on Sunday and by Tuesday (at the latest), you’ve got five choices to pick from. Instead of, like, 5,000 options, which the site has if you’re Type A and want to peruse alllllll the possibilities.
Given my aforementioned dread for card-making, clearly this was the service for me. So, I tried out this process, and texted my family photo to Minted. (In case you’re wondering, the number is 415.915.CARD.) I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous/apprehensive. Like, this couldn’t really work, right? A few seconds later, however, I got a welcoming response from Minted and a request to take a quick survey regarding my style/wording/design preferences, which took about 30 seconds to fill out. Next up I heard from my cheery designer Jamie, who sent me her design choices via text two hours later. I popped into my account online and there were all five options waiting for me in my saved folder. I loved two of them, tweaked them a bit and within 10 minutes, had come to a decision. It was that easy. No more scrolling until my eyes throbbed, no more second-guessing and comparing and stressing.
Next up was the aforementioned free recipient envelope printing. Sure, it sounds great, but the cynic in me said that the process was going to be labor-intensive and have me running for the hills (a.k.a. just writing them out by hand instead). But alas, I was wrong and in actuality, it too was easy. You can either manually type in your contacts or upload an excel sheet to the Minted site. Heads up: Your spreadsheet needs to be formatted according to Minted’s guidelines to be processed (you can download a template from their site and paste your contacts into it as well). New this year is an address collection feature that will email your contact asking for their updated info, and then automatically store the new data in your address book. Yes, this is very handy, and eliminates the middle man (you!) from texting your contact and then manually uploading the new info to Mindted. Genius! And based on the card you chose, Minted suggests a few dozen envelope font designs that will match your overall motif. If you’d like to have your return address also printed on the envelopes that’s an option, but there is a fee based on the number of cards you’re ordering.
Once my order was placed, I received a proof from my designer — I did in fact have a few edits, so I was grateful for the second look at the final product — and after that I received the order in five days because I opted for rush shipping.
Now for the big question: How did they turn out? In a word, spectacularly. My photos were crisp and clear, the card’s design (I went with the Poinsettia Pine Frame design and love it) was colorful and vibrant and the card stock was sturdy and thick. For the first time ever, I opted for foil-pressed accents (F.Y.I. this means gold print), and the result was just as I hoped — super freaking fancy. I also tried out the site’s custom postage, wherein you can monogram or upload a photo to Minted and create a custom 35- 50- or 71-cent stamp. I opted for the “Four Photos” stamp and uploaded four pics of my kids and the outcome was priceless (figuratively, of course, as each stamp does actually do have a price, lol). Seriously though, the cards themselves are beautiful and when you throw in printed envelopes and a custom stamp? Well, it appears that I have outdone myself this year.
But truly, the only reason why I was able to do so is because Minted is taking all the hardship out of the holiday card-making process this year. So much so that I’m not even dreading next year’s card anymore!
If you’re procrastinating getting your holiday cards made this year, do yourself and favor and just let Minted do all the work for you. Heads up, though, the turnaround time for photo holiday cards is six to nine business days (based on one proof round with standard shipping), and December 18 is the last day to order holiday cards if you want them received before Christmas (be prepared to shell out for rush shipping, though!). The good news is that both the text styling and the recipient envelope services are being offered through that date as well, so you've got the better part of a month to GET 'ER DONE. Click the below link to get your card on its way!
Minted Holiday Cards
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