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It’s time for a “Christmas in July” post to help you budget for the holidays! 🙂 This one is about sending nice Christmas cards for less. We’re talking about cheap Christmas cards in price, not quality! Now is a good time to review these tips for sending affordable Christmas cards so you can start saving supplies and make it one of those budget line items that’s actually easy on your wallet this holiday season.

Read on so you’ll be ready to save money on your Christmas cards this year.

I love sending out Christmas cards in December every year! It’s probably because I really like letting my friends and family know that I’m thinking of them during the holidays and wishing them well. I know a Christmas card doesn’t seem like much, but in this case, I do think it’s the thought that counts. Really, that’s what a Christmas card is doing- it’s sending a physical representation of good thoughts to friends and family- and that counts!

With that in mind, the more cards I can send, the better. And since I’m a frugal thumb, I want to be thrifty and green about my Christmas cards. I had to come up with a way to make them as affordable as possible while simultaneously considering the environment, so I can send out even more without worrying about the costs.

If you’re like me, without Christmas cards, many of your friends and family may not hear from you directly at all over the holidays. It’s such a busy time! And even though a Christmas card is already one of the most low cost gifts you can send, costs per card can add up fast depending on how many people you want to wish well.

Truly, there are some really expensive Christmas card options out there! I mean, there’s all the paper choices, Hallmark-type brands, sizes, stamp prices, front-and-back printing, matching address labels, and what-not. It’s really easy for Christmas cards to get silly expensive for people to send so they won’t send very many, or they’ll just skip out on it altogether. But your friends and family aren’t going to judge you based on how much you spent on their Christmas card. They will enjoy the sentiment when they see the card from you. So, we just need to make them more affordable so you can send them to everyone you want.

So how do we do that? What can be done to make sending Christmas cards affordable again?

Each of my Christmas cards costs little more than the cost of the stamp to send it.

Yes, that includes the cards, envelopes, 4×6 family photos, AND stamps! In the last two years, my Christmas cards have averaged less than $0.60 cents each, and that includes the stamp!

Here’s how I do it:

Don’t buy Christmas cards, envelopes, or return address labels.

Instead, DO save all of the Christmas cards (including accompanying envelopes) and return address labels that are sent to you in the mail from various organizations throughout the year.

You know the letters I mean. All that junk mail that you may be tossing in the trash. Just take a few extra seconds to pull out the cards, envelopes, and labels first. Then set them aside with your Christmas supplies.

All year long, my mom and I save the free Christmas cards and return address labels that come in the mail from the non-profit organizations (some where we donate and some where we don’t). Since many of these organizations send cards and labels whether you donate to them or not, so you might as well make use of them rather than throwing them away. What’s the point in letting them go to waste? And the cards come with accompanying envelopes as well, so all you have to do is add your holiday note and/or family photo.

Cat on Christmas Cards

Note: If you can’t save up enough for this year, hang onto them for next year. This year, you can buy envelopes that can hold one 4×6 photo for less than a quarter each and you can print off a holiday note to attach to the back of each.

Bottom line: Get your Christmas cards, envelopes, and return address labels all for free by saving up the ones that come in the mail from non-profit organizations.

Don’t buy fancy photo cards that come with envelopes.

You can make your own photocard-ready image with a free app called MOLDIV or any number of others (like Canva). I literally just make my family pose for a Christmas photo and then edit on my phone with MOLDIV. You can choose your card layout (based on how many photos you want to have on your card), plug in your photos, add some text, and save the image. Download the app here: MOLDIV – Photo Editor, Collage – Apps on Google Play

Then you can upload your image to Shutterfly and order 4×6 copies. For some reason, 4×6 prints are by far the most cost effective, and if someone really likes your family photo(s), this size is also more convenient for framing.

Example of a 4×6 photo “card” made with MOLDIV:

If you use the Shutterfly app, you can get your 4×6 photos for free, just pay shipping and taxes:

I also get free shipping at Shutterfly with Lakeside Perks (up to $10 per order), so I’m literally paying the taxes to get the photos delivered.

For example, with my Lakeside Perks membership last year, I got the entire shipping cost as cash back ($8.88) on my Shutterfly order and only had to pay the taxes for the prints ($0.79) for all 72 prints.

Bonus tip: Lakeside Perks
Lakeside Perks is a cash back app that I have used for a few years now and consistently save over $75/month. It costs $15/month to use it, but I’ve found it to be well worth the upfront cost. You do have to be consistent with submitting your receipts online for this to work for you. Check it out here:

Bottom line: Make your own photo card as 4×6 prints to send with your Christmas cards and get them for free by ordering them through the Shutterfly app (just pay shipping and taxes).

Do buy stamps from USPS.

I actually get the Christmas-themed stamps every year. This is one area that I splurge on my Christmas cards. I know I could get a huge roll of forever stamps and save on cost per stamp over time, and that’s definitely an option for you too. But I don’t because I’ve decided that I love to get Christmas-themed stamps. The themes change every year and it’s part of what makes sending the cards fun for me. They add that extra holiday spirit. So I spend the extra few cents per stamp to get them. And really, it’s only extra if stamp prices have gone up that year.

Example of Christmas stamps I’ve gotten from USPS in the past:

Bottom line: Get the Christmas themed stamps from USPS. Or save over time on a big roll of forever stamps. I’ll leave this decision up to you.

Here’s how the costs shook out for my family over the last two years:

2020 Christmas cards: $0.66 cents each

We sent out 71 Christmas cards in 2020.

Stamps, 80 @ .55 cents each from USPS: $44, plus $1.30 delivery to our house

Photos, 81 ordered from the Shutterfly app: $2.58 or about .11 cents each (better than you can get at CVS or Walgreens) (after saving $10 in cash back from Lakeside Perks)

Christmas cards: free!

Total cost to send 71 Christmas cards in 2020: $46.58, or .66 cents each

2021 Christmas cards: $0.50 cents each

We sent out 72 Christmas cards in 2021.

Stamps: .58 cents each, bought 60 (and used a few extras from the previous year’s Christmas themed stamps to get to 72) for $34.80

Photos, 72 ordered from the Shutterfly app: $0.79 cents (the cost of taxes)

Christmas cards: free!

Total cost to send 72 Christmas cards in 2021: $35.59, or .50 cents each

How it’s thrifty:

You’re sending each Christmas card for not much more than the price of the stamp you’re using to mail it. If you average out how much I paid for each Christmas card over the past two years (2020 and 2021), it comes to $0.58 per card sent. History of United States postage rates – Wikipedia

How it’s green:

You’re using Christmas cards and return labels that would’ve ended up unused in a landfill.

This gift doesn’t take up a lot of space in the home. I use them as thrifty holiday decoration in my kitchen, putting them up on all my cabinets throughout the season.

Then when it’s time to put away all the decorations, I make a yearly Christmas ornament from the photocards. It’s become one of my favorite traditions.

Christmas Card Ornament

So there you have it. That’s how you can send cheap Christmas cards (in price, not quality) to everyone on your list! You can even feel good about being thrifty AND green by following these simple tips to send affordable Christmas cards this year.