Apologies for the delayed post..  I was up to my eyeballs in cosplay at one of the best conventions ever, taking some great pictures that I’ll be sharing soon.

I believe we have some pretty awesome Christmas cards.

First, I love the tradition of Christmas cards.  It’s a way to connect on a less-digital level, and it’s an opportunity for that personal touch.  After all, how often do we receive real mail these days?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Photo by Aaron Shade

However, most buy cards and simply sign their names, mass mailing to their address list.  This still takes effort, and I appreciate the hand-addressed envelopes that show up in my mailbox.  But this lacks some personality.

Others will include a personalized note, and I like these a lot more.  This actually takes some thought, which I value far more than the simple monetary effort.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Expand this, and you get the Christmas letter.  I love reading about the goings on in the lives of those I love – something other than the minutia I see through social media.  Unfortunately, this is on the opposite side of the effort spectrum, and most simply don’t have the time around this busy season.  Some also balk at reading a wall of text, and the Christmas letter is heading the way of the fruitcake.

The other option is the custom cards.  Take a nice holiday photo, put it on a card, and send them out.  Minimal effort, with that personal touch.  I like these, too, but I miss the status updates.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Photo by Ben Heller

I am a photographer (obviously), so I wanted to create something more visual to send my loved ones.  But I also wanted that personal touch.

So we decided upon the Christmas photo letter card.

As we hit significant events throughout the year, I try to set aside a single photo to represent it.  Then, at the end of the year, I simply compile these, add a bit of text, and print them out.  This provides an update of our lives – a retrospective summary of the year – in a very visual and easily consumable format.

christmas-card-2016

Granted, most years, I fail to set aside photos throughout the year and wind up with that task all at once come December, but I could make it easier on myself (and I endeavor to do so).

I first did these cards a few years ago, and everyone loved them so much that it has become a new annual tradition, something that now must conclude every year.

christmas-card-2016-pg-2

I enjoy putting them together (even if it takes more time), and I remark every year how “we did SO many things!”  I took a look at our first card five years ago, and it contained 17 photos.  I thought we did a lot that year.  This year had 31, and I barely fit everything we did onto one card.  It’s interesting to see our years recapped in this way, and we’re sure to keep a copy of each year’s card as an almost picture diary of our lives.

Hearing some say they actually keep our cards past New Year’s is additional encouragement.  I’m sure these will stick around for a good long while – just more reason to have fun-packed years so we have plenty of material for our cards!

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

What do you do for your Christmas cards?  What unique personal touches do you add?  I’d be curious to hear if there are other ideas not mentioned.

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