Making your own cards is a snap

It's a little depressing to shell out $4 or $5 for one greeting card, especially during the holiday season, when the card list is a mile long.

The truth is, it's not that hard to make your own holiday cards. It's a great family craft project for a weekend, and actually a good way to relieve stress.

Specialty scrapbook and stationery stores, such as Archiver's: The Photo Memory Store at Mall of Georgia, offer classes on making homemade holiday cards. Cards can be made for about $2 to $3 each, which is less than many store-bought holiday cards.

But when making our own seasonal cards this year, we found it was a little cheaper to buy supplies from craft and discount stores. We picked up packs of eight note cards with envelopes - make sure you choose folding cards, not postcard-style cards - for about $2.50 at the craft store.

And a few dollars worth of felt, glitter, ribbon and stencils goes a long way toward creating an individualized collection of holiday cards. Even if it doesn't seem particularly Christmas-y, just pick up whatever you're drawn to. We had lots of fun using the brightly colored hole reinforcement stickers usually used in binders.

"It's all about your style," said Jeremy Pacesky, lead instructor at Archiver's.

To get started, Pacesky recommends picking up a card-making book for ideas. "They're just so good to flip through," he said.

At the Archiver's classes, the top trends in homemade cards seem to be glamorous or traditional. People are drawn to shimmery paper, glitter and gems when making their own cards in the store, Pacesky said.

"We can't keep some of the shimmer paper in," he said.

On the other end of the spectrum, traditional cards are also back in vogue this year, especially those featuring Christmas trees, he said. Folks are choosing traditional colors, too, like deep reds and greens and royal blue, Pacesky said.

If you're not particularly crafty, you can still make your own cards using personal photographs. Photo cards have been a holiday tradition for years now, but the options are better than ever this year.

Online sites such as Shutterfly.com and Kodakgallery.com offer cute templates for do-it-yourself photo cards. If you order 20 or more photo greeting cards from Shutterfly, you can get them for less than $1.50 apiece. Kodak's Easy Share Gallery offers its own templates as well as a series of holiday photo card templates designed by Martha Stewart.

Customers can also bring their own photographs in to the Archiver's store at Mall of Georgia and use the store's machine to make photography cards. The process is simple - the photo is scanned in, the customer chooses a border, adds text and prints their personalized cards.

"Your photo becomes the card," Pacesky said. "It literally takes like five minutes."

- Staff writer Rachael Mason contributed

to this report.

Tips for sending cards

•Transfer your address book to your computer and print a holiday card list for easy reference. Check off the names as you address the cards.

•To save time, print address labels to affix to the envelopes of the cards you're sending.

•When you receive a card, be sure to use its return address to update your database.

•Don't forget to include your own return address on each card you send, so it will come back to you if there's an error in the address.

•Involve the whole family in the card sending process. Get the kids to help sign the cards - or to address them, if they have neat handwriting.

•Be sure to have plenty of stamps on hand, so you can mail your cards from home instead of the post office.

•Purchase stamps at the grocery store or at other retailers to avoid a trip to the busy post office. Or, order stamps online. Visit shop.usps.com.

Source: Hallmark