Around Thanksgiving every year I practically start breaking out into hives thinking of all the Christmas decorating, shopping and events ahead. So much to do, so little time sort of thing. And one thing always on my freak out list is Christmas cards. I love giving them and getting them but creating them has never felt painless to me.

Each year I start with a grand vision of me, my husband and my two young kids all fresh and clean, perfectly dressed and perfectly posed in a beautiful portrait.

Then weeks pass and I haven’t had time to do it. Plus the notion of my kids sitting still without sticking their tongues out or elbowing each other is just delusional.

Then there’s the cost. For several years I used Shutterfly to create and send our holiday cards. I was spending about $80 for 30 cards, and that was with a major coupon discount.

But I have to honestly tell you that Shutterfly has disappointed me too many times. Two years in a row they sent two cards, at least, to everyone on my list. It was a bit awkward explaining to my loved ones why I had spammed them with multiple cards.

And a photo book I ordered for my husband’s birthday arrived a week later than the guaranteed date.. which I paid extra for. That was the last straw for me.

I’ve also used Tiny Prints (a Shutterfly company) for around the same price. And some of my friends use Minted. The results are gorgeous. And for those of you who can and want to spend that much, I absolutely support that.

But one year I said to myself, ‘Self, put your money where your mouth is. Be frugal!’ So I turned to Walgreens. Mostly because I often get photo order coupons from them in my email and I had one for 50% off!

Just like Shutterfly and similar companies, Walgreens has tons of styles and formats to choose from and the upload and insertion of photos was super easy… again, like the big companies.

But where I was most happy was the price tag. All told, I spent $42 for 40 cards with envelopes and 3 day shipping.

And I was very happy with how the cards turned out. They were crisp, clear and printed on good quality cardstock.

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Frugal Mission Accomplished!

So here are my tips for no-stress holiday cards from the heart:

1- Give yourself a break

There’s enough to be stressed about during the holidays. This doesn’t need to be one of them.

It’s ok if your card isn’t exactly your perfect vision. And it’s ok if they don’t arrive 2 weeks before Christmas or -deep breath- before Christmas at all!

If time gets the better of you and you get to them late, I’m sure your loved ones will cherish them whenever they arrive.

2- Don’t try to be perfect

No one is perfect. If you can’t get the time or don’t have kids who will sit still for a Norman Rockwell type portrait, then don’t try to force it. If you can do that.. more power to you!

But I actually really like using some of our family’s ‘best of’ photos, as a kind of snapshot of the year. And those are pretty easy to compile, just scroll through what you’ve posted on Instagram and/or Facebook.

3- You don’t have to spend a ton of money

I discovered that good holiday cards don’t have to cost a fortune. Just watch for those amazing coupons. And use that extra money to help light up your kid’s face on Christmas morning when they look under the tree.. or give it to charity to light up other kids’ faces.

4- Just be sure to include a message from the heart

The bottom line, in my opinion, is that you send a heartfelt message to your loved ones that you are thinking of them and care about them and want to share your life’s prettiest moments with them.

(BTW- Walgreens did NOT sponsor this post. I just wanted to share a good, frugal resource with you.)

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