Growing up in Asia in the 80s, we used to get plenty of Chinese New Year cards. There were so many that I ended up decorating our house with cards. While most are generic cards from my dad’s business associates, there were a few cards that I look forward to each year. One in particular is from my uncle who lived in a far away place. While we don’t get to see our cousins regularly (we meet up less than once every 5 years), we saw them grow up in those photos. Along with the photo we will get a quick ‘newsletter’ type update on what the family has been up to the entire year. Here, we shared their joys of graduating from high school, then college. We felt their sadness when their pet dog died. This is a long-term tradition that I missed with the advent of online greeting cards.
While I still look forward to the yearly newsflash, it is not nearly as touching as a real-life card.
When my husband and I had kids, I felt it was important to resurrect the family legacy. This is especially important as we now live in the United States and all of our family is in Asia. I decided to print holiday cards to mail to my relatives and friends every year. Sometimes, I include a holiday card with my donations during the holidays.
Online holiday cards printing services – Shutterfly and more
At first, I would herd my kids up and take photos of my kids in various locations. This is easier said than done, as they are inevitably getting into each other’s way, or making funny faces. Someone would be pulling another kid’s hair, or stepping on each other’s feet. It was also difficult to get a nice shot of my husband and I along with the kids. We would use the delay timer. We would get a goofy face or someone squinting. After a trying session, I would edit the best photos and print it online using an online website such as Shutterfly. It would cost around $1-$2 per card including shipping costs. Despite our best efforts, we are not professional photographers nor do we have the right equipment and it does not come up quite right.
I have tried several, including the now shuttered-down Sears Portrait Studio, Walmart Portrait Studio and JC Penney Portraits. With its constant promotion, the Groupon deal offered by JC Penney seems to be the best bet. If I get the timing correct, I could purchase a package which include professional photography and printed cards for $0.50 cents or so per card. At times, Groupon has special deals such as 20% off which makes it even cheaper.
Here is what I would recommend for family photos:
- Try to book an appointment on a weekday if possible, it gets very busy on weekends, especially by the end of November or early December.
- Gather all your props and change of clothes.
- Try to co-ordinate or match outfits before your session.
- Plan on taking the photos that are most important first – ie family photo before individual photo of the kids. One minute, my 3 year old could be posing happily for photos. Before I know it, she could be screaming bloody murder if one of her brothers pull on her hair or start teasing her.
- Plan on the shoots to be taken away from cranky time – i.e. avoid nap time or near meal times, where you are almost guaranteed to have a cranky kid or two.
- Bring along and incorporate your kid’s favorite stuffed animal. It may help calm them down and add a personalized touch to your holiday memories.
- While your photographer should be prepared to suggest some pose, it is always helpful to come up with ideas ahead of time.
- Have fun. While the pandemonium behind the scenes may be a little overwhelming, remember to go with the flow and have fun.
Do you make holiday photo cards as part of your family tradition? Do you have have any ideas to share? Please comment below.
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