I always send photo cards. So Step 1 is taking the photo. Because Steve has excellent equipment and skills, we take all our photos at home. This works out very well- it's free and convenient. However, with all three of us in the photo, there is no one left to help with composition, or to point out a stray hair or a twisted necklace. I think we need a huge mirror set behind the camera! So many good pictures are ruined because the composition is crazy or because someone's shirt is twisted in a really weird way*. After looking through the pictures we took, we chose this one:
*Note the stripes on Trevor's shirt- if I hadn't been in the photo, I would have noticed that he needed to straighten his shirt. It drives me crazy, but it's that way in all the pictures and I don't hate it enough to do a second photo shoot.
So that brings us to Step 2, the card. I've toyed with the idea of making my own photo cards by hand before but came to my senses. I would love making the first one or two, but I know that somewhere around card #16 I would go crazy. With 30+ more to make. So I find a cute photo template at my current developer of choice (in the past, I've used Shutterfly, Snapfish and most recently, Costco), upload the photo, and place the order.
I was all set to do the same thing this year. I looked through the templates and couldn't find a single one that I liked. Many of them clashed hideously with the green/blues of our clothes. So I did something I've never done before- I made my own card digitally. With no actual skills, knowledge or specialty software. I used Picasa's collage feature to add a band of color to the top and bottom of my photo, added text, and then used the free version of Picnik to add a holly sticker. I uploaded the completed design to Costco and ordered cards. With only the free software, my mediocre skills, and a deadline, I was somewhat limited in what I could do. In the end, I don't LOVE it, but it looks way better than any of the available templates did. Here's our 2011 Christmas card: