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We all have that one friend whose holiday card arrives the day after Thanksgiving, right? It hangs on your fridge as a daily reminder that you haven’t even ordered cards yet, let alone compiled a list of names and addresses or chosen the right picture. If you're feeling behind the eight ball and you haven't come up with a plan yet, this is the post for you.

Whether it’s from your family or your company, the purpose of sending out a holiday card is the same. You want to let your friends or customers know that you wish them the best during the season of giving. But in order for your card to stand out from the pack (or to save it from immediately being thrown in the trash), there are a few "best practices" you should follow. Below are 5 helpful tips to consider before you get your holiday cards printed and mailed out:

1. Avoid cards with glitter.

I get it, glitter catches people's eyes. I like glitter. In fact, I probably have some on me right now from one of my kids' art projects. But that’s the thing... it’s messy. It will get all over the person opening the card. And as the card goes through the mail, a lot of the glitter rubs off and piles in the envelope creating a glitter popper that that will leave a trail everywhere. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a major transgression, but it’s annoying and could leave the person with a negative feeling towards your card. A good alternative to give you this shining effect without the mess is going with a "foil-pressed" card, and most major printers will offer this option.

2. Add some flair to your envelopes.

To make an impactful first impression, it's important that the packaging looks just as cool as what’s inside. Don't just settle for standard envelopes. Find an envelope with a pattern on the inside. It’s a nice visual touch when it’s opened. Also, adding your logo and return address to the back lip of the envelope is a nice way to go beyond the average sticker return label.

3. Choose a unique stamp.

The Liberty Bell and flags are great, but an easy way to make your card pop is by using an interesting stamp. Going with something holiday-themed is just fine, but you can take it a step further and purchase vintage unused stamps through Etsy, eBay, and other online shops. Just make sure they’re unused. And don't forget to double check pricing to make sure you’re using the proper dollar value of stamps.

4. Consider a more durable paper stock.

All paper stock is not created equal. Your holiday card should have a good weight and durability to it but still be fairly flexible at the same time. The initial feel in the hand is how the card's quality will be judged. Card stock paper will range from 50 lb to 110 lb and would be the minimum you want to use for your cards. For reference, printer paper is typically 20 lb to 30 lb. 

You also might see the term cover stock, which is slightly different from card stock. Cover stock is coated or textured, while card stock is usually smooth. Cover stock is also measured in points, not lbs. If it all gets a little confusing—which it does—just know the thicker the card stock or cover stock, the nicer it will feel. Just don’t go crazy and print your holiday cards on something as thick as cardboard. Keep in mind: if it weighs over one ounce, it might require more than one stamp to mail.

5. Start early so you can get a proof.

To be honest, if you’re reading this now, that ship is quickly getting ready to sail. Start as soon as possible and get a proof sent to you to avoid any mistakes or quality issues. Maybe some of the text is cut off, maybe the paper stock isn’t as nice as you thought, maybe the wrong words are foil pressed, etc. These are the things you want to know before you place a large order.

A few more quick tips:

  • Cursive fonts are fun, but they can often be difficult to read when used for larger portions of text. Try to keep your cursive to one larger word that’s used more as a decoration. An example would be the words “Believe” or “Joy”.
  • Make your holiday card a non-standard size or shape. Either smaller or larger. Or perhaps you can go with something rounded or square! It will help it stand out from the pack. Just don’t make it too big that it’s obnoxious or too small that the message gets lost.
  • Use a high-resolution photo. Your image should be at least 300 DPI. If you plan on pulling a photo from your company’s social media page by simply saving it, know that it goes through a compression when uploaded on social, so it will most likely be low resolution. Find the original version instead.

The holidays can be hectic. Don’t let getting cards printed stress you out even more. These tips will help you turn your tears into cheers, and make the process easier and potentially even fun. Best of luck!

About the Author

Doug Orleski | Graphic Designer
Doug Orleski, Graphic Designer

Doug Orleski has been a Design Specialist at PMG since 2013. He’s an Adobe extraordinaire, with specialties in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. He’s a big picture thinker – no, seriously, he thinks in pictures, so when he’s not grappling with shifting to word-based work, he’s writing about techniques in streamlining design, customization techniques and optimal image selection.

 Tags: Website & Graphic Design

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