Red Hearts Background Showing Romance Love And ValentineWhile anyone can run to the store and buy off-the-rack holiday, birthday and special event cards, something you designed yourself gives your cards a heartfelt and personal touch. Why let a greeting card company say for you what you can say better yourself? If you haven’t made your own cards before, consider the following tools and techniques to help you through the process for your next occasion:

Get the Photo Right

Finding a family photo that everyone is happy with is the hardest step, but your work doesn’t stop there. Make sure your photo is print-ready by adjusting the lighting, shadows and tone of the photo. If you are concerned about hiding flaws, consider making a black and white or sepia-toned adjustment to your image. Basic photo editing software like Picasa is great for minor adjustments. But if you aren’t sure if a photo looks right, it’s best to consult a photographer or photo editing friend for professional help.

Consider a Card Making Service

If you aren’t a graphic designer, fear not. There are many companies that provide customizable templates to make your card look professional and sleek. If you want your cards to have great lettering and fonts, consider Picaboo. For photo-heavy cards and easy customization, use Shutterfly’s card designing service. With Shutterfly you can choose from the photos you already have uploaded to your account.

Design on a Tablet

While a desktop or laptop is great for at-home work, you might be surprised by how much can be done on a tablet. The iPad Pro is a great option for your card making endeavor. The pressure-sensitive and precise Apple Pencil lets you create digital drawings, just like if you were using a real pen or pencil. Since it’s digital, you can create the perfect drawing and then send invitations or thank you notes to everyone on your list with only a few taps.

Think Outside the Box

Try an unconventional card idea that best captures your family’s personality. If you’re looking to send out cards for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day or for a family reunion, look at turning your Instagram shots into a unique greeting card or invitation. All you have to do is print your Instagram pictures onto canvas paper, cut around the photo with enough space to leave a white border (to get that retro Polaroid frame look) and mount the final cut onto folded cardstock.

Go Handmade

While cards of any kind are a nice, kind gesture, nothing quite compares to a handmade card. Whether the sentiment is written in glitter, digitally made, encased in a great family photo or decked out by your kids, the effort is well worth it when your card is opened.

That being said, make your next card-giving occasion a craft project for the whole family. Your kids will love drawing pictures and sprinkling glitter on their cards, and you and your spouse have the chance to be more creative. No matter what the occasion is, make sure your cards show off your family’s personality and style.