all the pretty cards

by Amy

Cards 17
©Amy B Photography 2015

Christmas cards.  Holiday greetings from people near and far.  Something I look forward to making and sending every year, after a brief period of questioning why I put myself through the financial, mental and physical stress of it all.  Don’t get me wrong…I absolutely love picking out the fun photos to use, making the card (with a template of course!) and then addressing all of them to the people I love.  But I won’t lie.  Every year, I argue with myself about whether or not that time, money and effort could be used better elsewhere.

©Amy B Photography 2015

But then I open my mailbox.  I hold your card.  The one you sent me after you sacrificed time and money and effort to create it, stuff it in an envelope, possibly acquiring paper cuts on your tongue or accidentally walking around with a stamp on your butt for most of the day.  All for me. (and all those other people you love!)

So there I am, holding your card with a big dumb grin on my face.  Sometimes you have even brought me to tears.  You remembered ME?  Little ol me?!  You took time out to include me in your life, no matter that I probably see your every move on social media…STILL.  You took ol’ fashion time for me.

And I don’t have to go to my computer to pull up a photo of you.  Every time I walk by my dining room cabinet, the one I pass 58 million times a day, I get to see your face, your family and maybe even some fun things you did this past year.  I positively adore that I get to hold, in my hands, a little yearly memento of you, my dear friend.

©Amy B Photography 2015

Guess what?!  I don’t throw them away either!  Nooooooooo.  After all that cost and time and terrible tasting glue, I imagine my great grandmother and all of the Pony Express would roll over in their grave if they knew I threw away a real live letter!  Actually, I am a memory pack rat so I keep them all.  Some of you, dear friends of mine, have cards in my home that go back over eleven years!  Weird coincidence?  That is about how long I feel like I have been forced to be an adult!  Huh.

But what to do with all those cards of Christmas past.  I can’t bear to part with them, yet I also can’t just shove them in a box all willy nilly and under appreciated!  My solution is simple.  Dress it up or leave it lie, it is a meaningful way to store cards of those faces you love, to be revisited year after year to come.


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I start by finding a small 6×8 album to keep them in.  This can be tricky as they average about $20 for ONE album.  But if you are okay with that (because you are obviously a millionare and wipe yer butt with hundred dollah bills) than fine.  But if you are one of the common folk and $20 sounds like whole bag full of goodies at the Dollar Tree, then check Ebay or the latest Michaels coupons.   Some of my favorite albums are the Simple Stories album (which you can decorate if you want, due to it’s cardboard cover), this Project Life Album (multiple colors available) or my VERY favorite from Studio Calico.

Most of the albums come with page protectors and I use one for the guide as to where I should hole punch.  Again, if you are fancy and have one of them high tech paper punchers with the repositionable deely-bobbers on them, use that.  But I go old school and choose a wrist strengthening exercise over that them there fancy machines.

©Amy B Photography 2015

Depending on the layout of the card, I punch my holes accordingly.  I also like to take note of where the holes will be punched so little adorable Ava May doesn’t lose her eyeball during my creative process.  I love that every year, the cards are a bit helter skelter in my album, adding depth to the pages of the album!

©Amy B Photography 2015

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Some dear friends send letters along with their cards.  [I like to call them overachievers.  Lovingly.]  And what a joy it is, to compare their letters over the years and see how much (or sometimes little) has changed.  I usually fold the letters in half with the text facing out, punch both ends and put it in as if it is it’s own double sided page.  Easy reading folks!

©Amy B Photography 2015

Some of the cards are harder to figure out.  This lovely card was a trifold and if I hole punched it and just stuck it in there, I would have no way of seeing some of the lovely images inside unless I open the binder and pull it out.   Which…duh…that is the whole point of this album.  Easy access to Christmas past!  So I added tabs from some Studio Calico labels I had on hand and some glue dots…

©Amy B Photography 2015

Cut out the tabs you wish to use.  My sheet of labels is from Studio Calico and each month they release a new set of color options for your printing pleasure.  If you are photoshop saavy, you can change the colors on your own (with a little bit of work) to have the colors line up with your scheme.

©Amy B Photography 2015

I folded the tab and applied Mini Glue Dots to one of the back sides of the label and lined it up with my page protector to make sure the hole placement would be accurate.  I only applied the tabs to the top page of the Trifold card so I would be able to pull it out accordion style when complete.  After I was sure it was lined up properly (so my OCD flags would surrender) I added the final dots and secured the label/tab in place.  ©Amy B Photography 2015

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©Amy B Photography 2015

The final touch is adding our current year’s Christmas card to the very top.  It is fun to see how WE have grown throughout the years as well as remind ourselves of where we were when everyone else was where they were!   I use Jamie Schultz Designs for my personal and my client card templates EVERY year since 2010.  She is a crazy talented designer of templates for photographers to use and every year, she holds my heart for Christmas/Holiday Cards!  (She also offers a variety of business card, album and specialty templates so be sure to check her out!)

And then, you are done.  It took me one episode of Downton Abbey and a half an episode of New Girl (so about an hour) to make this from start to finish.

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And I love it.  Every year, we pull out our Christmas decorations and these books, as the special treat that they are.  Every year, the kids sit and flip through these albums over and over again.  We relive beautiful trees, new homes, fresh babies, finalized adoptions, lost loved ones and friends we have made and love from around the world.

Thank you for sending me your Christmas Card, friend.  It let’s me know we are close, that you are thinking of me and that we are only a stamp away!  I love our friendship and the yearly reminder I can hold on to!

©Amy B Photography 2015