In today’s digital age, a hand-written note often stands out. But cards from the store are expensive and impersonal. An alternative is to print out personalized cards. But most home printers do a poor job printing photos on appropriate paper, places such as Uprinting.com are great for running many copies of the same thing but bad at printing one-offs, and places such as Shutterfly print nice one-offs but they tend to be a little pricey.
My wife and I came up with a low-cost alternative, and we’re thrilled with the results. However, the idea does requires some design savvy. My wife is a graphic designer by trade, so we have Photoshop. You’ll need that or comparable software to get the job done, or else you’ll need to call in a favor from a designer or pay someone.
The idea is simply to print 3×4 inch photos from your collection (or from the public domain or Creative Commons) and glue a photo on a nice, blank card.
Why 3×4 inch? I’ve found that the least expensive photo prints are 4×6 inch (at Costco I pay just nine cents for a single photo). But that’s too large for your average card. So I asked my wife to place two photos evenly in a 4×6 inch grid (at 300 dpi), so one printed photo cut in half yields two cards. We made a large set these images, drawing on years of photographs.
I’ve found nice, blank cards for as low as a quarter each (I got mine at Michael’s), so the total cost of a card can be as low as thirty cents—much less than you’ll pay for good cards anywhere else, especially personalized ones.
I had some nice scenic photos from my own collection, as well as some great shots from my step-dad’s and grandparents’ collections. I asked my wife to add a credit line to the images, and the result is a set of intensely personal, attractive cards that bring back cherished memories for me and, I hope, for recipients as well.