In today’s 24/7 electronic Insta-world, there is simply no substitute for “old-school” mailed holiday cards. I keep every single one we receive, bundled in satin ribbon by year, and I love going through them as reminders of Christmas past. My mother recently bought inexpensive acrylic frames (so you can see both sides) and has the last 10 years of our family’s cards displayed in her home office. It is a great way to document the progression of your life over the years!
Receiving cards from friends and family is one of my favorite traditions of the season, and today Jennifer Hunt, founder and owner of the super chic paper company Dogwood Hill, is sharing her tips and best practices for creating the perfect holiday card from outfit selection to finding the perfect stamp.
Dogwood Hill has the absolute prettiest and best selection of holiday cards – Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, Thanksgiving, etc – in addition to a full range of invitations, menu and place cards, gift tags, birth announcements, moving announcements, wrapping paper, and more. Welcome, Jennifer!
Q: What are some of your favorite outfits and color combinations for holiday pictures? Any tips you can provide?
A: I plan our holiday card outfits a little differently each year. Last year, I selected the card first, so I very intentionally color coordinated our outfits. This year, I wanted a more traditional Christmas color scheme and so I chose a red plaid skirt to wear, which ended up informing the outfits everyone else wore. We are not as color coordinated this year, but I love that too! Dogwood Hill has so many card choices that I think you can dress your family in your favorite outfits, regardless of the colors, and end up finding something that works perfectly for you!
Q: How do you select a card that best complements your picture?
A: I think the best approach is to first find art that you love. Within that card suite, you will likely find a layout that works well with your photograph. If the photo box space doesn’t fit your picture perfectly, in most cases, we can adjust the space for you. Email customer service and they will take great care of you!
Q: What makes Dogwood Hill holiday cards unique?
A: Each Dogwood Hill card starts with an idea that informs the art. Then the art is hand painted by one of our accomplished artists and sent to our in-house team who designs a suite of cards using that art, making sure each card’s design reflects the original art concept. Once finished, the card is printed on thick, luxurious, textured, creamy paper, which gives our cards a custom, high-end look. Our customer service is impeccable, and we want the entire experience when ordering a Dogwood Hill card to be easy, quick and convenient, with the intention that each card when received feels very special and thoughtful.
Q: What are some of your most popular designs this year?
A: This year, our customers are really loving our Tastemaker collections! Each holiday season, we partner with Tastemakers from around the country who inspire us and are aligned with our brand. They are paired with one of our artists to create original artwork that is then designed into beautiful holiday collections. Our amazing 2021 Holiday Tastemakers are Ariel Okin, Ashlyn Carter, Bria Hammel, Claiborne Swanson Frank, Jenny Bohannon, Megan Stokes and Venita Aspen.
Q: If timing is down to the wire, and professional photography is not an option, what do you recommend?
A: We often print iPhone photos on our cards! The key to a good iPhone photo is the lighting. Make sure the photo isn’t backlit because it will make the faces darker. Also, try to avoid heavy shadows on faces or in the photo in general. Finding a shady spot is your best bet for taking a good photo on your phone. We also prefer no filters on photos. Filters often make the photo print poorly when the original photo will work better for printing purposes. We also look at each photo on every card, so we will let you know if we feel the printed photo might not be the best option.
Q: Do you have any best practices for keeping your holiday address book organized and up to date?
A: I used my wedding list as my holiday card list for years! I finally transferred the addresses to an Excel spreadsheet and it has been worth every minute spent! It’s also the perfect format for sending to Dogwood Hill for recipient address printed envelopes, which is a major time saver when mailing out my holiday cards. I only have to seal and stamp the cards and they are out the door! To update addresses, I keep a stack of moving announcements received throughout the year and I update my address list once while prepping my holiday card order.
Q: I was thrilled to learn about your recipient address printing option! How does this work, and are various fonts available?
A: I agree! I love having my envelopes printed with the recipients’ addresses. It makes the whole holiday card process easier. Dogwood Hill matches the recipient address font to the font found on your card to make the whole set look cohesive, but we are happy to change to a different font for a small fee. The instructions for formatting your recipient address list may be found by clicking here.
Q: Do you have any calligraphers you recommend for those who prefer handwritten envelopes but don’t have the time or feel self-conscious about their handwriting? And how much extra time needs to be allowed?
A: There are so many talented calligraphers who would be happy to address your envelopes! I would suggest finding someone local and contact them immediately since we are quickly approaching the holidays. Each calligrapher may have a preferred timeline, but I would generally allow 2-3 weeks for them to address your envelopes and make sure to order 15% additional envelopes to allow for mistakes.
Q: In order to ensure cards arrive before Christmas, when is the last day to order? And when is the last day to post?
A: The last day to order without paying rush processing and rush shipping fees and to hit mailboxes before Christmas is December 5. This is our recommended date based on on-time delivery from shipping carriers, both delivery of the cards to you and to mailboxes! If you need to order after that date, we have beautiful New Year card options! Those can be sent out well into January, which alleviates the pressure to get your cards out by a certain date.
Q: What are some fun ideas for adding festive stamps on envelopes?
A: We love adding festive and vintage stamps to envelopes! You can find lots of options on Etsy for vintage stamps and for festive stamps, shop early at the post office as those are always the first to go!
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: The Dogwood Hill team pulled together a list of answers to frequently asked questions and some advice for our customers to reference when they create and address their Holiday cards. You can find the blog post here.
Thank you, Jennifer, for these wonderful tips, and for making the world a prettier place with your classic Christmas cards!