40 cards, 4 kids, 0 tears
I had so much fun putting together Easter cards this week that I want to share my process. It proves you can pull off totally painless last-minute photos (without a professional photographer) involving multiple rambunctious kids and an infant.
Much as I love Christmas cards, I'm a big fan of sending out cards for other holidays. They're unexpected and, as a result, a lot more memorable. (And forgive this proud mama, but once a year just isn't enough to share photos of my adorable kiddos!)
When I do this, I make a point to keep it fun and easy, so I never go all out with our entire Christmas mailing list. It's much less laborious and expensive.
I keep it spontaneous, picking and choosing different occasions when the mood strikes. That way it never feels burdensome. "Oh, great, I have to do Valentine cards again." (I've blogged before about traditions versus chores. As a parent, it's important to keep your to-do list from continually swelling and maintain family rituals for the enjoyment, not obligation.)
Part of the spontaneity is picking whom you'll send the cards to. Depending on my energy level, I order anywhere from 10-40. Sometimes it's just grandparents, great grandparents, aunt and uncles. Other times I'll throw in a few friends, a neighbor or a teacher. I enjoy thinking of someone who would appreciate an out-of-the-blue card. Ted's godmother, Bridgann, often comes to mind.
I've done Valentine picture cards once and Easter cards a few times. My favorite was a springtime card I sent last year not tied to any specific occasion. I simply loved a picture so much that I wanted to share it. It reminded me of a Mary Cassatt painting, and it felt like a sweet, simple celebration of spring between sisters.
I got such wonderful feedback, including a phone call (!) in this age of texting from one recipient calling to say thanks and catch up.
I mailed the cards with the Gifts of Friendship cherry-blossom stamps, which are no longer issued by the U.S. Postal Service but are available at a higher price elsewhere.
I get an inordinate amount of satisfaction from coordinating my stamp and my card. So I always buy my stamps online to get a wider selection than the offerings currently stocked at my local post office (and spare myself the long line). It's totally worth the $1.25 shipping.
This spring I didn't put any pressure on myself to pull off Easter cards with four kids 6 and under. But if the moment struck, I knew I had the perfect outfits, which I'd pressed and hung in the laundry room just in case: three coordinates from Remi Girl's Bloom Spring Collection. (The collection, according to Remi Girl, is its most popular ever. The floral design has been a huge hit.)
It was one of the first coordinated sets I bought for all three girls since Kate's birth. Maria got the ruffle leotard, Jane got the pocket skirt and Kate got the dress. (I wanted each girl to sport a splash of floral, so I figured a dress on the smallest body would balance itself out.)
On Palm Sunday, I was feeling up for a little at-home photo shoot, so I worked some bribery into the equation, telling the kids that we'd do an indoor Easter egg hunt and snap a few photos beforehand. The girls delighted in their "Easter-egg-hunt outfits." (Don't you love that concept? A special outfit for a special cause, ha!)
I also gave each (big) girl a $5 Target headband with felt flowers. They were a recent purchase, and it turns out that they actually stay on and tied into the emerging color palette.
Then I positioned the kids facing a window for natural light, gingerly laying Kate in Maria's arms, and turned my iPhone to portrait mode. It's a winning combination!
I snapped away as I told a few silly mom jokes (some involved finding an unsavory surprise in an Easter egg). #pottyhumorworks #noshameinmygame
And voila! The photo shoot was done.
I brightened my favorites in Snapseed, Google's super-easy, free mobile photo editing app, using the "Tune Image" tool. If you admire the bright-and-airy look of Instagram feeds by social-media influencers like Jillian Harris, this is a quick way to replicate that look.
The result was lovely! I was as happy as Archie on an egg hunt, drooling as he chomped on jelly beans.
Here are a few of my favorites.
I almost went with the middle shot, which feels so loving and candid. But ultimately, I couldn't resist Archie sticking out his tongue in the bottom one. And so I had my Easter-card picture.
I ordered 40 cards through Walmart, which offers a 5x7 same-day stationery card in sets of 20. Priced at $1 a card, they cost far less than Shutterfly for thicker card stock. The paper is called "linen," which has the popular matte finish but with more texture. And the best part is the quick same-day turnaround. Shutterfly's standard shipping can be slow, especially before a major holiday (and for a mom who procrastinated). Yet I can never justify the enormous expedited shipping fee.
I chose the card called Tulip Blessings to coordinate with the pink-blue-and-yellow florals of the girls' outfits. Here's the finished product.
For stamps I used Love Flourishes, which tied in perfectly.
In the end, it was such a fun process -- happy kids, a happy mom and ALL THE FLORALS.
Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and four children in Inver Grove Heights. Read all her posts at mnparent.com/charmed.