Christmas Card Photos

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Cheap portrait studio for no-frills holiday cards

November 2004

We are looking for a cheap, easy place to get a family photo taken and made into holiday cards. We want the border of the cards to be completely plain--just a blank white space for a message. We used to get our photos done at JCPenney's, which was cheap and easy and did an ok job, but they stopped offering plain-bordered cards. I phoned Sears and they don't have plain-bordered cards either. I wanted to go to Picture People at the Hilltop Mall, but they no longer have a store there (or maybe they never did and I hallucinated it).

There are two portrait studios at Hilltop: Photo Magic and Picture Perfect--has anyone tried these?

I saw in the archives a few recommendations for Expressly Portraits, but they're no longer at Hilltop--does anyone know if they have another location nearby?

We're not necessarily opposed to private photographers, but they'd have to be super-cheap (JCPenney's costs about $40 for unlimited sittings for a year, plus about $1/card). Cheap, but not cheesy

I used Walgreen's last year and was very happy with the cards. It was very cheap. You just have to supply the picture or negative. I can't remember which. So, you might not be able to have a professionally done picture and then use Walgreen's b/c you won't have the negative. Many of my friends and relatives used Costco and loved the cards. Again, you have to supply the negative or picture. Hope that helps! jodi

If you have a digital camera, why not try an on-line service and do it yourself? We really like Ofoto--we've made moving announcements, photo books, calendars, etc. Lots of people I know also like shutterfly. Jennifer

My family doesn't care for the heavily decorated cards either. Have you thought of using a photo that you like of the family from earlier in the year, then taking the negative or CD to Walgreens or Long's and getting photo cards made? You could even have a friend take a roll of film of you and your family right now if you want a current photo and use one of these pictures. I've seen advertisements for 20 photocards for $14.99. You have the option of choosing a saying (Peace, Happy Solstice, etc.) along with your name. We did this last year instead of going to JCPenney's and it worked great. No sappy borders. And I put the order in only a couple weeks before Christmas and got the cards back in time to mail them out for Christmas eve arrival (okay, so that was cutting it close!). Monika

Do-it-yourself Holiday Cards

November 2002

Hi, I have a new Sony digital camera that I love, but I'm not sure how to get the photos from my camera to my computer. I took some great photos of my sister's kids that she wants to use for her annual Christmas card, but I need help in getting the photos to her! I've seen lots of people use photos on holiday cards - but can I use a digital photo to make them? Thanks Mary E.

Your Sony camera should come with all the software and cables needed to get the photos from the camera to your computer. For instance, the FD Mavica model comes with a USB cable and Pixela Image Mixer application, which most likely has an assortment of templates for holiday cards. Patrick

You have three options. (1) You can take your camera (or removable memory medium from the camera) to a photo shop where they can access the picture and make prints for you that you can mail to your sister and she can insert in regular photo cards. (2) You can upload your photo to a website like shutterfly or ofoto, resize it or make other changes, and then have the site make prints and send them directly to your sister (again, for use in regular photo cards). (All digital cameras come with software that lets you upload pictures to the computer; it is also part of operating systems such as Windows XP and those for the newer Macs. Once you have the picture on your computer, you need to download the free ''uploading'' software from the website you want to use.) (3) You can also work with one of the websites to make your own cards online. Then what your sister will get will be cards with your picture printed right on the card (you can add fancy borders, etc.). The last is particularly good if your sister is short of time, because it eliminates the step of putting the photo in/on the card. Have fun! Stephanie

Last year we used with cardstore to create the whole card and were really happy with them. You can upload your image to them from a scanned image, take it directly via cable from your digital camera or get it from their processing. Good Luck.

For using digital photos for holiday cards check out They will process your digital photos (ie make lots of photo quality prints). You can also post your pictures online to share with family & friends. patricia

I'm responding to the question about digital photos. I work at Ofoto - a digital photography site which is designed for digital camera owners who want to get prints from their digital photos and easily share them. Lots of people have digital cameras and aren't sure how to get high quality prints and other photo products (like Holiday Cards, Photo Calendars, Framed Prints) - that's exactly what we do. We are owned by Kodak and print on Kodak paper. You asked specifically about Holiday Cards and we have lots of amazing holiday card designs this year (they come in sets of 20 cards & envelopes). If you visit the site,, there are instructions on how to upload the photo to us and make your card - it's really easy! Another great photo product that makes a great holiday gift for the relatives (especially grandparents) is the Photo Calendar. You get to pick the 12 photos to display, photo captions and the design of the Calendar. Hope this helps! Tammy

On page 28 of the November 2002 Costco Connection magazine, it describes their new digital and traditional holiday photo greetings available at the 1-hour photo. Most of our local Costcos have the new digital printers (not available at South SF, Fairfield, Vallejo). The digital printers can use 35mm, APS, photo CD, Zip disks, Smart Media, Compact Flash, Memory Sticks, SD and maybe others. They can crop your photo. They can also print non-holiday photograph-quality photos. I hope this helps. Jill

Where to get photo cards

Sept 1999

Since my daughter was born, when Christmas rolls around we have been sending out those photo Christmas cards. I really like sending them as well as receiving them from others. I would like to know where other parents have gone to have their cards made and how much it cost. I used Walgreens for a while, but found their quality diminished year to year until I was very unhappy with what I got from them. Mary

We have our photo Holiday cards done by Color Express on Shattuck Ave. (near Center). We are usually very late with getting a decent photo for our card and they can print them in a day or two. The quality of the work is very good as they have done photo and slide work for the research labs that I have worked in. The price depends on the number of copies that you require and if I remember correctly it is $.55 and up. And the owner is a very nice person! Denise

We've been pretty happy with CostCo. Pretty good prices and decent quality. Get your order in early, though, since they have a pretty high volume! Dawn