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How to Make Holiday Cards + Complete Christmas Card Guide

There’s a lot of effort that goes into picking your Christmas cards each holiday season. From knowing what to write in your holiday card to making a list of all of the people to send Christmas cards to– it takes work. And if you’re like most, adding holiday cards to your growing Christmas to-do list may seem like a daunting task. We’re here to help. We’ve made a complete guide on everything you need to know about Christmas cards. That way you can move onto your next holiday responsibility knowing you’ll be sending out beautiful cards to your loved ones. Get started below.

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What is a Christmas Card?

A Christmas card is a greeting card which gets sent to family and friends as part of the Christmas tradition. The Christmas card was first popularized in the United Kingdom in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. Modern cards often include a set of Merry Christmas wishes or blessings, along with family photos or a personalized message. Now, around two billion Christmas cards are delivered to loved ones every Christmas season.

A stack of a variety of Christmas cards from Shutterfly.

Christmas Card Printing

When you’re ready to order your Christmas cards, it’s essential to know the options available. That’s why we’ve outlined all the different printing options you can choose between below.

  • Cardstock: Our archival-quality 120 lb. signature cardstock is one of the most common choices for Christmas cards for two reasons: photos print clearly and beautifully, and it’s easy to write on.
  • Photo Paper: Photo paper is a more affordable alternative to cardstock. However, while the material is glossier and more challenging to write on, the photo quality is exceptionally high and guaranteed to last.
  • Pearl Shimmer Cardstock: Similar look and feel to the regular cardstock, but with a glossy finish. 
  • Foil Stamped Cards: This premium add-on features a debossing of real foil to help bring your Christmas cards to life.
  • Personalized Foil Cards: This option is an upgrade to the foil stamp option. It enables you to add your family’s name or a personalized message in real foil, to help your card out-shine the rest.
  • Glitter cards: Make your holiday cards stand out with this unique add-on. The glitter won’t rub off so you can enjoy your card all season long (and beyond).
  • Gate Fold cards: Gate-fold cards feature two panels that fold in. This multi-dimensional holiday card option is perfect for families with lots of photos or special messages for loved ones. 
  • Regular corners: The default for most holiday cards includes a cut with all four corners at a 90-degree angle.
  • Rounded Corners: Similar to the default, but the corners are cut to rounded edges.
  • Ticket Style: This style resembles the shape of old fashioned tickets, with the corners cut with an inward rounded edge.
  • Bracketed: For this cut style, all four corners showcase a bracketed shape.
  • Scalloped: Scalloped edges resemble an inward and outward pattern of rounded edges.

A highlight of foil stamp on a Christmas card.

Standard Christmas Card Size

Picking the right size Christmas card largely depends on the shape and style that you’re looking for. However, it’s also important to consider factors such as postage cost when deciding on card size. To help, we’ve made a list of the standard Christmas card sizes below:

How Big Are Christmas Cards?

Christmas cards are roughly the size of your average greeting cards, birthday cards, and other similar stationery. The most common size is a 5X7, which works with standard postage. Square or extra large and heavy cards may incur a higher postage price. 

Greeting Card Dimensions

  • 5×7 inches: The standard greeting card size. This card size fits in most standard envelopes and typically doesn’t incur any extra postage.
  • 6×8 inches: This is a slightly larger card size, but with similar proportions to the 5X7 option. This might be the perfect card for families who want their Season’s Greetings to stand apart. 
  • 4×8 inches: This card size is long and narrow and genuinely unique to receive in the mail.
  • 5×5 inches: A square-shaped Christmas card looks excellent hanging on anyone’s fridge. However, it’s important to note that this size of the card will cost more to mail.

Three varieties of Christmas cards.

How To Make Christmas Cards

Creating your annual Christmas card shouldn’t give you a headache. We want to simplify the process with a step by step guide on how to create and order your cards. So, when you’re ready to start making your holiday cards, follow the directions below. 

How To Make Christmas Cards With Photos

  1. Pick out your favorite family photos for your Christmas cards. Make sure to upload these to your Shutterfly account. 
  2. Make a list of names and addresses of everyone you want to send cards to.
  3. Find some inspiration. Check out our Christmas card ideas for a few of our favorite holiday designs.
  4. Pick a design theme or color. What matches your Christmas photo colors?
  5. Establish your budget. Make sure to include postage when calculating cost per card.
  6. Based on your budget and design theme, browse our selection of Christmas cards and choose one that matches you perfectly. 
  7. Select your style and add your family photos to the project. These will appear in a scrollable bar at the bottom of the project.
  8. Decide between your favorite trim options, card size, card paper, add-ons, and colors. These can all be found in the left-hand options menu.
  9. Drag and drop in your photos, and crop as needed. If you’re worried about the photo quality, try requesting a creative review. They’ll let you know if there are any issues with your photos or design.
  10. Add a personalized message and your family’s name in the corresponding text boxes. Double-check that everything is spelled right.
  11. Add an envelope insert or other customization, if wanted.
  12. Either pre-load your addresses for an expedited process or leave the envelopes as-is.
  13. Proceed to check out.

A family on a Shutterfly Christmas card.

How To Personalize Your Christmas Cards

When you’re ready to take your Christmas cards to the next level, it’s time to personalize. Personalization can include anything from adding new Holiday greetings, more family photos, a foil debossing, or a special message to friends and family. Need a little personalization inspiration? Make sure to check out our resource on Christmas card sayings.

Double-Sided Christmas Cards vs. Other Formats

Double-sided Christmas cards are a popular choice for many families. The extra space on the back allows you to include additional family photos or a personalized Christmas greeting. Alternatively, you can also opt for gate-fold or tri-fold cards for even more photo space. Once you’ve decided on which Christmas photos you want to share with loved ones you’ll have a clearer idea of which card type to create. 

How To Make Your Own Christmas Card Holder

Looking for the best ways to display your Christmas cards? Consider hanging your favorites across a Christmas garland, or use them for a DIY wreath. Or try creating a DIY Christmas card holder using wood. Whichever project you decide to make, your holiday guests are sure to love all the creative ways you’ve displayed your cards.

Displayed Christmas cards on a table and garland.

Christmas Card Design Ideas

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday card design, it’s essential to know the different types and styles available. From classic to modern, your choice on Christmas card theme will set the tone for your holiday greetings. For that reason, it’s important to understand the difference between the different styles and how they’ll fit your family Christmas card.

  1. Classic Christmas cards typically focus more on Christmas illustrations and less on family photos. These illustrations can include snowscapes, Christmas elements, or religious symbols, along with a classic Christmas greeting.
  2. Contemporary cards differ from classic Christmas cards by including more bright colors, fun shapes and designs, and the inclusion of family photos.
  3. Are you looking for something a little more fun this holiday season? Whimsical Christmas cards may be just the style for you. With their bright, bold colors, exciting fonts, and space for plenty of family photos, they’ll look great displayed in your home.
  4. Unlike whimsical cards, modern Christmas card styles focus on the family photo, using minimalistic design. This makes them perfect for a family with a love for simplicity.

In addition to these four more popular Christmas card styles, we’ve also listed additional common designs below:

  • Kids
  • Texture & Patterns
  • Religious
  • Sparkle & Shine
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Rustic
  • Craft
  • Photo Gallery
  • Snowflakes
  • Pets
  • Just Married
  • First Christmas
  • Moving Announcements
  • Disney
  • Simple

A pile of Chrsitmas card options on a Holiday table.

Back Of Christmas Card

Many Christmas card designs leave plenty of space on the back of the cards for you to include special messages to your loved ones. Whether it’s a general Christmas greeting or a handwritten message, these notes are an important part of many Christmas traditions. Need some help figuring out what to write? Visit our resources on Christmas card wording and how to sign a Christmas card

Taking Christmas Pictures To Make Cards

If you don’t have a family Christmas photo ready to use for your Holiday cards, don’t worry. We’ve created a resource to help you take the perfect Holiday photo. Check out our Christmas photo ideas for a little extra inspiration. 

Resources Related to Christmas Cards

If you liked this resource on Christmas cards and you’re looking for more helpful holiday information, please visit our guides on when to send out Christmas cards and how to address Christmas cards