It's almost that time of year again for spreading some holiday cheer. This also means that if you're single, you'll get an extra heap of friendly little reminders that you haven't yet achieved the same milestones as some of your peers -- namely, in the form of a holiday card featuring photos of your friends and their 2.5 kids dressed in meticulously styled outfits and arranged around a Christmas tree looking like they walked out of an ad for the Gap. Don't get me wrong - I really appreciate people putting in the effort to send out an actual card at all, and I'm a sucker for cute kids. But this is yet another area where we sometimes face a double-standard when it comes to single vs. settled. I love that holiday cards are a great excuse to connect with people in a more personal way, but is it appropriate to send out a photo card if you're flying solo?
This year I decided I would just have to take the chance. I'd be sending my cards to friends so (hopefully) they wouldn't pour Hate-orade all over my sentiment, and if there were any snarky/unappreciative recipients at least I'd know who to put on my naughty list for next year. But ordering an image of myself printed on a generic template did seem obnoxious and cheesy (and unnecessarily expensive). As long as I was adding a personal touch to my holiday greeting, I figured I'd go all in and get crafty with a DIY project using an Instagram photo and my printer.
This project quick and easy, and I actually had a lot of fun doing it! With just a little extra planning and some creativity I was able to send out holiday wishes in a unique way that showcased my personality.
Here's how I did it:
Step 1: Get festive.
I wanted something representative of being a single girl in the city that incorporated some humor (can we say alcohol?). I got to decorating my scene using some lights, jumbo ornaments, tinsel, a huge vodka bottle and MYSELF!
Step 2: Say "cheese"!
I wasn't sure yet exactly what I wanted the caption on my card to say, so I just started having fun posing. You can try this using a camera with a self-timer, but it's certainly an easier process if you have someone snapping for you. Take a bunch of photos so you have a lot of options.
Step 3: Instagram it.
Pick your favorite photo(s) and play with different filters. NOTE: If you don't want your friends to see your photo before they get their card, create a new Instagramaccount using a different email and adjust the settings to "private".
Here are some of my narrowed-down card photos:
Step 4: Print it.
I found that one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to print Instagram pics is using the Walgreens online app. The app allows you to upload your photo(s) directly from your Instagram account and is set to print in 4x4 or 8x8 so you don't have to worry about trimming any photo paper. At 39 cents a pop (or less with a coupon) and ready in under an hour at the location of my choice, this made my project super easy! Choosing the glossy print really highlighted the filter effect and gave my final photo a professional look:
Step 5: Pick a look.
I really liked the Polaroid-esque feel of my black border square photo against a white background so I chose plain white card stock. Since the photo itself was pretty festive, I figured a minimalistic card with a simple sentiment on the front and "Happy Holidays" inside would work well. These projects are a great excuse to have fun playing with fonts and there are a multitude of designs available online for free download. The Lost Type Co-op features a great assortment of fonts that have a hipster vibe perfect for pairing with Instagram photos.
Step 6: Test your math skills.
This is where things get a little tricky. You can do this using Word (Pages, etc.) but be careful of your measurements. I knew my photos were 4x4. I found plain white Staples envelopes measuring 4.75"x6.5". I wanted to do folding cards since they give me more room to write a note inside. The easiest way to do this was to create two separate documents (one for the front, the other for the interior).
For the front of my card, I created a document measuring 4.5" x 6". This would be the size of my card when folded. Then I simply created a text box measuring 4" across and then centered the text. I arranged it 4.5" from the top of the page so it would leave a .25" margin between the bottom of my photo and the text itself (the same as around the top and sides of the photo). Then I pulled it .25" from the left so it would be perfectly centered with the width of my photo.
For the inside I created a document measuring 9" x 6" (the size of the card unfolded) with margins at 0". My text box measured 4.5" so my text would be centered when folded, and I aligned it with the right edge of the document. Then I simply pulled it halfway down the page to make it perfectly centered when folded.
Since card stock comes in standard letter size, I would need to print this horizontally and then trim the excess. I just ran the card stock through a print cycle for the front of the card first, then put the same pages through on the reverse side for the interior. NOTE: You'll want to test this to see how you need to arrange the sheets back into the printer after you've printed the cover.
Step 7: Slap it all together.
Once printed and trimmed, I folded my cards leaving a perfect spot ready for my photos. A good trick when folding is to line up the corners and pinch the edges of you center line first, then go over the entire edge using a butter knife or ruler to get a clean crease. Rubber cement is your best bet if you don't want your cards to require assembly upon delivery -- any excess will rub off easily, it doesn't bleed through the card stock like glue, and it's way more permanent on photo paper than using a glue stick. I kept my card simple, but of course it's always fun to get creative with embellishments.
And voila! I have to admit I was nervous that I'd be getting in over my head trying to make a bunch of cards (not to mention a hint of embarrassment at using myself as the subject). But seeing the finished product I couldn't be more excited to send these out!