November 13, 2014
by Sara
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The Ingrate’s Guide to Writing Thank You Cards

There are many excuses people use to avoid writing graduation thank you notes or Christmas thank you cards – or just saying thanks for whatever the particular occasion may be. But eventually, the time comes when it’s painfully obvious you should write and send that thank you note. Still, for many of us, we don’t feel ‘grateful’ enough to just pen the message and send it on its way.

Do you have your own go-to excuse for never saying ‘thanks’?

Here are a few responses to some of the most common excuses for avoiding thank you notes. Read carefully and put some real gratitude back in your thank you notes!

“Cards are boring.”

Cards get a bad rap. They’re known for being corny, formal, and cliché. But thank you cards don’t have to be this way! Stroll over to custom photo card websites to see how you can make your card as kooky, crazy, or quirky as you are. Choose from different layouts, fonts, colors, shapes, and sizes to create something original.

With custom photo custom cards, you can even add a picture. This instantly removes any feeling of being cliché or inauthentic and turns your card into a memorable keepsake, a gift in its own right.

“I have nothing to say.”

Most of us can relate to this. Staring at a blank card, trying to think up the perfect wedding thank you card ideas or the most inspiring, seasonal Christmas thank you cards wording is intimidating.

Take a moment to step back from the blank page, and simply contemplate the task at hand: there is some significant event that has transpired. To celebrate, a friend paused their own life, their schedule, and their obligations, with you, personally, in mind, to celebrate and commemorate the occasion with a gift. Isn’t that wonderful? It’s the gesture, and the relationship behind it that is important – not some ideal of glittering prose or perfect wording. Think about what you really mean to say, and say it.

If you’re still stuck in your head and the words won’t flow, try “free-writing.” Fill a full page or so with all your stray and miscellaneous reflections on the gift and the occasion, allowing your thoughts and statements to ramble on without a filter. Then, pick out a few phrases and well-worded statements that express how you feel. Refine, edit and voila – your thank you card wording is ready!

“But I hated the gift!”

This is the best excuse to not write a thank you note. What if you’re a passionate vegan who was sent specially-aged moose jerky for Christmas? Or what if the gift is so ugly or boring that you really think it’s just a waste of money? Worse gaffes have happened. So how do you write a thank you note for something you’re not thankful for?

The obvious answer is to re-gift the material possessions, but honor the intent of your friend or loved one. It’s not their fault that they didn’t get the memo that you’re allergic to peanuts or that you detest the color green. Especially when our family members live far away, running into these types of problems can be all too common.

But when you think about it, this disconnect between you and your loved ones only highlights the need for you to re-connect with them! Focus, again, on the intent behind your loved one’s actions. Perhaps your loved one really loves moose meat, and even though you are vegetarian in our above scenario, they meant to communicate a great deal of love and appreciation with their gift. Focus on that. After you thank them for their kindness, it’s optional whether you inform them of how useless their gift was. If you do, just remember to tread lightly, be gracious, and affirm that it still was meaningful that they sent anything at all.

November 11, 2014
by Sara
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Thanksgiving favorites, and the BEST pumpkin bread and muffin recipe EVER

 

Thanksgiving is upon us, and it’s no secret that we here at Photo Card Cafe’ LOVE the fall season. The temps just turned colder this morning in Texas and Oklahoma, so we’re feelin’ it.

I’ve found a few awesome ideas for your Thanksgiving day festivities, and I’m sharing my much loved and certainly overused pumpkin bread recipe from my grandmother. So versatile, dense and easy. You can use it for almost any pumpkin quick bread recipe you need, and add your fave ingredients – chocolate chips, pecans, etc.

Who doesn’t love a yummy deviled egg? These pumpkin deviled eggs from Tadka Pasta are the cutest.

pumpkin deviled eggs

 

This cranberry centerpiece idea is so easy, cheap and beautiful. Thanks to Babble for these ideas for centerpieces.

cranberry flowers

 

From Project Denneler: these pie-looking cheese appetizers are cute and easy. If anything looks like pie, I eat it.

pumpkin pie cheese bites

 

I thought this idea was a great message, and a great snack as well. Try this easy Thanksgiving blessing mix from This Little Project.

thanksgiving blessing mix

 

AND NOW FOR THE RECIPE. I’ve never shared this electronically, but I feel like I need to now for the betterment of civilization. SO good. This makes TWO loaves of bread in loaf pans, or about two dozen regular muffins. Make these mini muffins, and well, you’ll have to clear a space in the deep freeze.

Grandmother’s Pumpkin Bread

3 1/3 c. flour

2 tsp. soda

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ginger

3 c. sugar

4 eggs

1 c. oil

1 15-oz. can of pumpkin

1 Tbsp. vanilla

 

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a larger bowl, beat eggs. Then add oil, pumpkin and vanilla. Add dry ingredients into wet ingredients slowly while mixing. Pour into greased loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 25 minutes. If you use this for muffins or mini muffins, it’ll take MUCH less time – more like 20-25 minutes. Just watch them.

Enjoy!

 

Also, think about those photo Christmas cards early! Check out a couple of our faves.

blessed collage holiday card

magical christmas card stars

November 5, 2014
by Sara
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Tips for Throwing a Great Last-Minute Party

Party season caught you by surprise? It’s the time of year when Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s all line up to give every day a new excuse to celebrate. If you’re inspired to throw a party but running low on materials and planning, here are some tips for turning a last minute gathering into a fabulous event.

PS – If you have enough time before you throw the party, be sure to send out some photo announcements and party invitations – we have an intuitive user interface that can help you pick the perfect pictures, color scheme, and layout for your party invitations in a matter of minutes!

What to Eat?

There are so many options when it comes to party food! Do you have fresh fruits or veggies in your refrigerator? Cut them up for the always-classic French appetizer “crudités” (it just means “raw vegetables” – there’s some party talk for you, too!). Complement veggies with a dip, hummus, or salad dressing. Finger foods like this are a big hit at kids’ parties, too.

A stroll through your local grocery store will offer other great options, too. You can buy frozen appetizers; cheese blocks with crackers; or take the cheese theme up a notch with an unsliced hunk of brie toasted in the oven until buttery – then serve it with fruits and crackers. Get creative and do whatever seems fun: why not order a few pizzas?

great last minute party food

You can always make your party a potluck, too. Ask guests to bring a favorite snack or drink to ease some of the hosting pressure.

Take a Drink!

Spruce up store-bought juices and lemonades with slices of fresh lemons, lime, kiwi, strawberry, or blackberries. You can’t go wrong offering choices of beer and wine, and if you supplement that with just one well-made house cocktail, you’ll be good to go on drinks!

More Décor

Regardless of your theme or occasion, even the best decorations look drab in a cluttered space. The first priority for a last minute party is a clean bathroom, kitchen, and gathering area.

After that, anything goes! Set out some fresh flowers; light candles; dim the lights; and put on your favorite playlist. If you don’t want to play your own musical selection, use Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, or the good old FM radio, if you dare.

thanksgiving centerpiece box pumpkinsWant more décor? Some easy options include hanging Christmas lights, bringing out larger or fancier lamps, and crafting streamers. The Internet can also point out more specific suggestions for your particular theme.

Entertainment

Depending on the folks you’re having over, you may want to have board games in stock, video games set up, a karaoke system up and running, or whatever else your crowd likes to do. Chances are, you won’t go wrong: with a group of friends all together, good conversation will be all the entertainment you need.

Pro-Tips

Since this a last minute affair we’re talking about, you may not have had the chance to consider all the possibilities! For instance, make sure that you are fully stocked on toilet paper in the bathroom. Be sure to have non-alcoholic drinks easily available for people who prefer it. And always cook a little extra in case you run out of snacks and food.

Another pro-tip for your party is the time of day it’s scheduled for. If you want to avoid cooking lots of food, time your party as a late afternoon event, or a late evening affair. This way, people will not be expecting a dinner-type meal.

Obviously, the most important aspect of any party is that you enjoy time with loved ones and have a good time. For a cheap party invitation that can double as a holiday gift and party favor, look through our save the date magnets, custom photo announcements, and holiday cards to see if they can help you throw a righteous, last minute holiday party.

October 30, 2014
by Sara
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Fun Themed Christmas Cards – Part 2

Welcome to part two of my themed Christmas cards blog posts.  I’m putting together some of my favorite themed card designs.  Some are pet themed some are funny and some are even perfect for your Halloween dressed up photos!  Click here if you missed part one: Creative and fun themed holiday cards.

Taking a ski trip this year? Try a mountain / ski trip holiday card!

Rock your best snow day or ski photos.  Fun!

Ski trip holiday card

Have you been somewhere warmer? Try a beach theme Christmas card.

Pull out your summer vacation pics.

beach theme Christmas card

Moving? Use a new address Christmas card.

Take a break from unpacking those boxes and take a few pics for a moving Christmas card.

new address Christmas card

For Your little Princess: Frozen Christmas cards!

You know she wants to show off her lovely Halloween costume.

frozen christmas card

Use your great couple photo in Couples Christmas cards.

The newly married, engaged or any couple might like a special couples themed card.

couples Christmas cards

And my new favorite: Ugly Christmas sweater photo cards!

These are too funny!!

ugly Christmas sweater photo cards

FUN!

October 22, 2014
by Sara
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Creative and fun themed holiday cards – Part 1

Looking for something different for this year’s family picture Christmas cards?  There are some creative and fun themed holiday cards out there!  Having a baby in December?  Try a Christmas birth announcement. Looking for a nice religious message?  Go for religious photo Christmas cards.  And if you want to be really creative, find a themed card design and maybe even dress up for the part!  Here are a few of our favorites:

That’s right! A frozen holiday card!

Dress up your little prince or princess for a too-cute frozen Christmas card design.

frozen holiday card

One of my all-time favorites: the picture superhero Christmas card.

Again, great for dressing up and having a super photo shoot.

superhero photo christmas cards

Show your pride with a patriotic holiday card.

Great for anyone!

patriotic holiday card - patriotic christmas cards

For the pet lovers: A dog themed photo Christmas cards.

You know you want to show off your little guy.  Love the phrase “happy howlidays”!

dog themed photo christmas cards

A fun camo card.  Also works for a themed Duck Dynasty Christmas card!

Dressing up as the Duck Dynasty crew for Halloween.  This card would be great for that photo!

duck dynasty christmas card

Not to worry!  I have more to share.  Check out part 2 of my fun themed Christmas cards!

October 16, 2014
by Sara
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What Christmas Carols Say About Christmas Cards

Christmas songs Christmas cards

 

Why do we love Christmas carols so much? For some people, these classics can seem a little old and boring, but without fail, we bring out Christmas songs every year. We like Christmas carols for the same reason we love Christmas cards: they help tell the Christmas story and spread the joy of the season. Read on to see how Christmas carols reflect some of the best reasons why we send Christmas cards.

 “What Child Is This”

This song might refer to the Christ child, but if you don’t keep in touch with friends and family, your next group gathering could leave loved ones asking of you “what child is this?” Most families love sending Christmas photo greetings and Christmas birth announcements because it’s the perfect opportunity to quickly update loved ones on how the family is faring.

Most people these days move often due to job changes or other obligations, and it’s easy to lose connection with the network of friends one develops over time. Instead of having friends and family wonder “what child is this” when it comes to your own children – or yourself! – you can keep them in the loop by sending Christmas greeting cards with new family photos.

“Deck the Halls”

“Deck the Halls” celebrates the exuberance of Christmastime. As the “Fa-la-la-la-la”s indicate, we can get a little goofy this time of year with decorations, special treats, and all kinds of extravagances. Part of the fun of crafting cards for a holiday gift or Christmas thank you cards is that you can be as festive as you want, with copious doses of green and red, or even a rainbow-themed Christmas card – it’s up to you. Try as many photos, fonts, color themes and layouts as you want. Since it’s all online, you can test the works before you actually make an order.

“Silent Night”

The “Silent Night” Christmas carol sweetly describes the scene most of us imagine when we think of the Christmas story. But the quiet of a humble manger in olden times is nothing like the loud modern world we live in, obsessed as it is with the glitz and glamour of a commercialized holiday season.

Christmastime, in large part, is now an excuse for companies to launch obtrusive, gaudy ad campaigns, pitch new mechanical gadgets, and make kids cry loudly for even louder toys. Instead of giving in to all the hype, Christmas cards can turn back to the quiet time in “Silent Night.” Choosing a quiet, simple, holiday card or Christmas thank you card may be the kindest way to say “Merry Christmas.”

Furthermore, consider this: Christmas is the time of year when family comes into town, with cousins twice-removed and in-laws, and more. You can count on having to go to multiple holiday parties, whether mandated by office, church, social groups, or PTAs. Instead of adding another loud and busy Christmastime exercise in practiced politeness, send a sweet holiday card or a couple Christmas thank you cards. A well-meant Christmas greeting card may be the classiest way to remind friends you care without inadvertently giving them a headache.

“Go Tell It on the Mountain”

Regardless of what type of card you send, or what exactly it ends up looking like, the best thing you can do at Christmastime is celebrate what really matters. Family will love to see new baby pictures in a Christmas birth announcement; friends will be excited to receive Christmas thank you cards; and if you send a simple holiday greeting card, that will give your whole mailing list a sweet moment to celebrate the season. As long as you are celebrating love and joy and the real reason for the season, you won’t just be wishing for a Merry Christmas, you’ll have one already.

October 1, 2014
by Sara
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It takes more than candy to sweeten a holiday! Try these holiday gifts and greetings.

 

sweet holiday peppermint candy

From BHG.com

It’s not Halloween if there’s no candy corn, and it’s not Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce or green bean casserole. Most of us can’t imagine a New Year’s Eve without some spirits, and Christmas time is best paired with eggnog. It’s easy to assume that holidays are best enjoyed with sweet treats.

But getting into the spirit of a holiday, gathering friends and family, and giving great holiday gifts takes more than a copious serving of sugar and carb-laden comfort food. And it’s getting more difficult to enjoy a family buffet as more and more of us adopt dietary restrictions and diets, whether we’re gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, paleo, or on a Paula Deen diet.

Ultimately, it takes more than candy to sweeten a holiday. Here’s how to make that happen.

Greetings
Studies show that loneliness peaks with the holiday seasons, so saying hello can help loved ones feel the joy of the season. Saying hello is sometimes the best way to brighten a friend’s day. Whether it’s been a year or a week since you’ve talked with your friend or loved one, a quick note to let them know you think about them can work wonders at holiday time.

Happy New Year” cards and Christmas greetings are standard fare for the season, and they are certainly wonderful to receive. But thinking outside of the box can bring a sweet surprise, too. Take, for instance, a Halloween party invitation or a photo Valentine’s Day card. Since the post office isn’t typically flooded with greetings in October or February, it can be that much more delightful to open up the mailbox and find a seasonal greeting in the form of a photo Easter card or a photo Valentine’s Day card.

Gifts
Gift-giving is always a part of the holidays. One way to give loved ones a gift is through quality, well-made photo cards. This is an especially bright idea when it’s a high priority to include as many friends and family members as possible. Custom cards as holiday gifts also help if your loved ones live far away and it’s not feasible to spend as spend as much money as it takes to pack, ship, and insure an expensive holiday gift.

Also, this might be an unexpected way to enhance a simple invitation and turn it into something more. In the search for the perfect Halloween party invitation wording or the cutest Happy New Year Card, you could find styles, card stock quality, or your own pictures that amp up a simple invitation and turn it into a remarkable keepsake.

Expressing Gratitude Afterwards
A holiday’s end can be a bummer. After the confetti has fallen, someone has to sweep it up, and after we all consume eggnog or too much candy corn, it is not always fun to take a peek at the weight scale. For many, it’s a plain downer. Sending thank you notes for Christmas gifts and holiday thank you notes after any holiday season can boost the mood.

It’s like a bonus holiday gift when your friends thought they had opened their last present. Who doesn’t like bonus gifts? Adding a fantastic photo and ordering the holiday thank you note on magnetic paper or quality cardstock can turn a perfunctory exercise in politeness to a joyful moment of unexpected friendship.

Regardless of your reason or rationale, spreading holiday cheer at any time of the year is a wonderful way to remember your loved ones and celebrate what matters year-round.  The next time a less popular holiday comes around, consider brightening someone’s day with a custom holiday photo card.

September 21, 2014
by Sara
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Extending Your Customizable Photo Cards

 

Supermarket cards might be a quick fix when you’re running out of time or running off to a party, but if you want to commemorate something truly special, you’ll want to make choices about how the card looks and feels – and you’ll want your photos to play a starring role.  Here are a few fun thoughts and ideas that help extend your photo card experience.

 

Personalizing Cards and Gifts Take People on a Journey
wedding save the date magnets
A personalized card or gift of real quality can convey an authentic moment and communicate excitement and genuine emotion. Take, for example, the case of wedding save the date magnets. When guests receive these unique gifts and snap them onto the side of their favorite metallic surface, something very special happens; a custom wedding invitation becomes even more memorable and the journey to the big day you are sharing with them begins.
Unlike a Facebook group or e-mail invitation, that one customized photo magnet was sent from two special individuals, and it comes to represent in an immediate, physical object, how two people are joining to create one family. The little bit of extra effort it takes to create a photo card or magnet really shows through, and it doesn’t end up in a recycle bin.
Custom wedding invitations are a wonderful example of how quality cards can boost the anticipation for an event. But there are other wonderful uses for customized cards. For every celebrated occasion, it is absolutely appropriate to send a custom greeting. And you don’t need to stop when the event concludes, because gratitude is also part of the journey. Commemorate the event while thanking your friends and family with special thank you notes for Christmas gifts for example, or photo thank you notes for graduation. In a way, you are sending your friends their own gift in return!

 

Other Fun Ways to Use Your Photo Cards

wall photo art

From Heels in the Mud

Check out this cute and simple wooden display for your favorite photos.  What about collecting your favorite photo cards from various occasions and adding them to the mix?  No one wants to toss out a nice personalized photo card, and a slick monochromatic mount will go along with any collection from a mash of holidays. This is a great idea for the card creator who is saving one leftover photo card from each order over the years.

 

Make Yourself Part of the Process
Let’s face it: the alternative to customized photo cards are flimsy and mass-produced cards that lots of other people are buying, too. Make yourself part of the process and create a unique message.  Photo Card Café has vast options for designs, color schemes, and fonts to help create the perfect card to match your personality and personal style.  Your unique photos will lead the experience when their own color schemes and compositions are uploaded to the card.  And finally, the words you choose (whether simple or lengthy) will extend that personalization.

Here are a couple of fun ideas:

  • Include some of your wedding vows on the card message.
  • Add a quote from your favorite author.
  • One one side, the card add your new photo. On the other side, add an old photo of you as a young child. (This would be great for graduation announcement cards!)

 

The Journey Never Ends
If it’s your first time to create a customizable photo card, you are in for a treat. After you try a few of your favorite portrait photos (or maybe a great goofy one of you and your partner dancing, we won’t judge), you might just be hooked.  The good news is, photo cards really can be a simple yet unique touch to any event, and as your life grows and changes you will have more excuses to create them.  Remember to come back and visit us for ideas when you extend your family, when you celebrate your first anniversary, or when you reach your next milestone.