Everyone loves getting holiday cards in the mail. Holiday greetings from family and friends sit prominently on our mantles and refrigerators all season long and are often stashed away as keepsakes.
If you plan on sending holiday cards this season, you have lots of options at your fingertips. We’ll take a closer look at the top five websites for holiday cards and holiday photo cards and show you how they stack up against each other in their designs and variety, customization options, and price.
PurpleTrail is an online retailer that sells custom cards and gifts. It’s a great place to get holiday photo cards (and personalized holiday gifts while you’re at it!) Aside from offering hundreds of fully customizable designs, PurpleTrail lets you print your own holiday card design. PurpleTrail also offers a custom design service to bring any holiday card idea you have to life. Last but not least, PurpleTrail offers a convenient mailing service, a unique customer loyalty program, and top notch customer service.
Designs & Variety
PurpleTrail offers more than 370 different holiday photo cards and more than 120 different holiday cards. Among these options are beautiful gold foil stamped designs to add bold touch to your holiday greetings. Aside from traditional design elements that are fitting for the season, like snowflakes, wreaths, and decorated trees, the designs also feature on-trend modern design elements, like geometric prints, marquis light lettering, and woodland themes.
You have the option of regular cardstock or higher end options like pearlescent and double thick. PurpleTrail offers a variety of formats, including standard flat cards and multi-page cards, including folded, tri-fold, quad-fold, and booklet designs. Multi-page designs are great if you need room in your annual holiday card to share recent family photos and the highlights of your year.
Also noteworthy is PurpleTrail’s variety of card shapes (called trims). PurpleTrail’s numerous card shapes include festive ornaments, whimsical hearts and circles, and elegant shapes like bracket, ticket, wavy, and antique trim. With PurpleTrail, there’s a little something for everyone.
PurpleTrail offers unparalleled customization options compared to its competitors. Each one of its hundreds of design templates can be changed from top to bottom for a holiday card design that’s all your own. Using the design center, you can change much more than just the text and color. Sophisticated design tools allow you to import embellishments and backgrounds from different designs, add shapes for different effects, and add as many text boxes and photos as you please, wherever you choose.
Unlike other websites, PurpleTrail lets you change even the finest details to your liking, like the spacing between letters and the opacity of your photos. The design center even provides a color picker that helps you match your text or background color to the sweater you’re wearing in your photo. After creating an account with PurpleTrail, you can also save the holiday card designs you create and come back to them later to finish what you started.
PurpleTrail offers bulk discounts for high-quantity orders, meaning the price per card goes down the more cards you order. Holiday card pricing starts at $1.23 each for a 50-card order and $1.13 for a 100-card order for a card measuring 5”x3.5”. Pricing for a 6”x4” photo card starts at $1.60 each for a 50-card order and $1.48 each for a 100-card order. PurpleTrail also offers coupon codes for first time orders and for orders that meet certain criteria.
2.) Invite Shop
Invite Shop is an online shop that sells cheap cards and invitations to buyers on a budget. If you’re tight on cash, but still want to send beautiful, fully customizable holiday cards to your loved ones, Invite Shop is the way to go. Despite Invite Shop’s bargain prices, the website receives stellar Facebook reviews that praise the company’s customer service, design quality, and quick delivery time.
Designs & Variety
Invite Shop offers nearly 300 cheap Christmas cards on its website. For the bargain price, we were surprised at the quality of the designs available. Options were available for religious and non-religious holiday greetings, dog lovers, newlyweds, new homeowners, and baby’s first Christmas. We were thrilled to see grown-up designs as well as kid-friendly designs for every taste.
Invite Shop offers standard flat cards as well as multi-page cards, like folded, tri-fold, and booklet cards. This allows you to share multiple, full-size photos of your family, the highlights from your year, and your hopes for the New Year.
Invite Shop also offers a wide variety of trims, including square, wavy, and rounded edges; ornament, heart, and circle shapes; and fancy edges like elegant, ticket, bracket, and antique shapes. Aside from regular cardstock, you can also select higher end options like pearlescent and double thick. Overall, there are a lot of ways to make your holiday cards special with Invite Shop.
When you choose a design on Invite Shop and click on the “Personalize” button, you are taken to a design center with advanced customization tools. Unlike most custom card sites, you can change much more than the font and color scheme. Within the design center, you can change your holiday card’s trim and background, add text boxes and photos, or add shapes and embellishments to create a unique look.
The design center allows you to search for backgrounds from throughout the Invite Shop website. For example, you can click on “Get Backgrounds” and search using the term “Christmas” to explore a variety of festive holiday backgrounds. Similarly, you can search for embellishments to import into your design. For example, you can search for “holly” to find a variety of holly berry embellishments to complete the look you want for your holiday cards. There are tons of ways to get creative with Invite Shop.
As a bargain site for holiday cards, Invite Shop is tough to beat on price. Invite Shop offers the same price per card for small quantity orders as it does for large quantity orders, giving an advantage to folks who only wish to place a small order. Pricing for 5”x3.5” holiday cards starts at $0.49 each, and pricing for 4”x6” holiday cards starts at $0.69.
Shutterfly is best known for its custom photo books, but the Shutterfly website also offers custom cards, including holiday cards. Shutterfly sets itself apart by its exclusive designer collections and helpful search tools that make it easy to find the holiday sentiment you wish to share (e.g., “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays.”)
Designs & Variety
Shutterfly offers more than 360 holiday card designs on its website. Shutterfly’s most unique options include foil stamped cards and ornament cards that come complete with a satin ribbon that loops through a hole in the top, turning simple holiday cards into keepsakes. Shutterfly’s searchable themes included religious and non-religious options as well as designs for pet owners, recently married couples, baby’s first Christmas, and more.
Formats include standard flat cards as well as folded, tri-fold, and a unique three-quarter fold format. We did not see quad-fold or booklet style cards, however. Shutterfly had fewer premium cardstock options than its competitors. For example, we did not see double thick as an option. However, Shutterfly did offer holiday card printing on photo paper, a more economical option for some buyers.
Shutterfly also offered fewer trim options than PurpleTrail and Invite Shop. We didn’t see any of the more whimsical shapes we found on PurpleTrail and Invite Shop, like hearts, circles, and wine bottles.
Customization options are much more limited with Shutterfly than with PurpleTrail or Invite Shop. Most Shutterfly holiday card designs offer rigid front panel templates where you plug in text and photos where the template allows. Typically, you can only choose from a couple color options for each design unless you specifically choose designs that offer a custom color palette. However, even designs with custom color palettes limit you to 40 colors. Shutterfly’s website did not offer a complete color panel for any design like we saw on PurpleTrail and Invite Shop.
However, Shutterfly’s designs on cardstock do allow a little more variety on the back panel of your holiday card. For example, you can choose from numerous festive backgrounds or layouts offering different combinations of text and photos. Shutterfly’s personalization tools lack the ability to import custom backgrounds and embellishments from throughout the site, which was limiting from a creativity standpoint.
Shutterfly offers bulk discounts on large-quantity orders. The best way to get a good deal is by placing an order on cheap photo paper and taking advantage of a promo code. Holiday cards sized 4”x8” on photo paper start at $1.09 each for a 50-card order and $0.99 each for a 100-card order. However, those with an eye for quality should bear in mind that photo paper is thinner and flimsier than cardstock. Holiday cards sized 5”x7” on Shutterfly’s signature cardstock start at $2.09 each for a 50-card order and $1.89 each for a 100-card order.
4.) Tiny Prints
Tiny Prints is often one of the first companies to come to mind when you think of photo holiday greetings. A division of Shutterfly, Tiny Prints offers similar search tools on its website that allow you to browse its exclusive designer collection or shop for cards by sentiment, such as “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
Designs & Variety
Tiny Prints is hard to beat in terms of variety, offering an astounding 600 holiday card designs on its website. Tiny Prints’ most unique options include foil stamped, letterpress, and laser cut holiday cards for visual pop. Like Shutterfly, Tiny Prints also offers ornament shaped cards complete with satin ribbon for hanging on a decorated tree. Design variety includes traditional holiday greetings as well as thoroughly modern designs featuring geometric shapes, chalkboard backgrounds, and paint brushstroke elements.
Tiny Prints holiday card themes are also varied, including options for pet lovers, moving announcements, Hannukah, and more. Formats include standard flat cards as well as folded, tri-fold, and postcard formats. We did not see any quad-fold or booklet formats, however. Tiny Prints offered more paper types than Shutterfly, including pearl white shimmer and double thick as high-end options, but did not offer Shutterfly’s printing on photo paper. Finally, Tiny Prints offered fewer trim options than PurpleTrail and Invite Shop, offering five standard trims other than its unique ornament format.
Customization options with Tiny Prints are nearly identical to those of Shutterfly, but slightly more limited. Most designs are set up as rigid templates where you plug in photos and text where indicated. This is especially true of the Studio Basics collection, which generally do not even allow different layouts for the back panel of your holiday card. However, the more expensive designer collections do allow a small selection of color choices, different layouts for the back panel of the card, and your choice of trim, paper, and format.
Unlike Shutterfly, Tiny Prints does not appear to offer designs with a custom color palette option, so your best bet is to use Tiny Prints filtering tools to find designs in your favorite color. Finally, Tiny Prints’ personalization tools lack the ability to import custom backgrounds and embellishments from throughout the site, which limits your ability to create your own unique holiday card. However, you can upload your own design if you wish.
Tiny Prints offers bulk discounts for high-quantity orders. The best way to save money on holiday cards with Tiny Prints is by selecting an option from the Studio Basics collection combined with a coupon code. A 50-card order of a 3.9”x8.85” holiday card at Tiny Prints starts at $1.39 each, or $1.17 each for a 100-card order. However, Studio Basics cards do not provide the same value in terms of customization. When you get to the more customizable designs, pricing starts at $1.69 each for a 50-card order and $1.29 each for a 100-card order for a 6.18”x4.56” holiday card.
5.) Paper Culture
Paper Culture is a newer online source for holiday cards. The company distinguishes itself with its thoroughly modern design sensibility and by offering all of its cards and stationery on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. It’s a great place to find eco-friendly cards and gifts, and the company boasts of a tree planted with every order.
Designs & Variety
Paper Culture offers more than 740 designs in its holiday cards category. Options are available for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year, as well as corporate holiday greetings for businesses. While the ultra-modern holiday card designs will appeal to those with an eye for contemporary design, you will not find any traditional or classic options here, which may be disappointing to those with an eye for nostalgia.
Paper Culture’s most unique options include silver and gold foil stamped holiday cards and circle shaped trims. However, Paper Culture offered fewer trims overall than its competitors, offering only rounded and square edges beside its circle trim. We did not see the bracket, scalloped, ticket, and antique trim that we saw with PurpleTrail, Invite Shop, Shutterfly, and Tiny Prints.
Paper Culture does seem to value luxe paper, offering premium, double thick, and triple thick cardstock. However, pearlescent or sheened papers were absent. Paper Culture also offered only standard flat cards and none of the multi-page options of its competitors, such as folded, tri-fold, or quad-fold, or booklet styles.
Paper Culture’s holiday cards offer few customization options outside of personalizing your text and plugging in photos where the template indicates. This is especially true of the front panel of the card, where you are typically given a small selection of color choices. The back panel of the card is slightly more flexible, providing your choice of a handful of layouts for different combinations of photos and text.
For every Paper Culture holiday card design, you typically have your pick of format and paper type, square or rounded trim, and your choice of a handful of color options. Paper Culture’s personalization tools lack the ability to import custom backgrounds and embellishments from throughout the site, which limits your ability to create your own unique holiday card. You also can’t add photo and text boxes wherever you want like you can with PurpleTrail and Invite Shop.
Paper Culture provides bulk discounts for large-quantity orders. Standard 6”x4.3” holiday cards are $1.99 each for a 50-card order and $1.59 each for a 100-card order. A slightly larger card (7”x5.125”) is $2.14 each for a 50-card order and $1.74 each for a 100-card order. The best way to save money with Paper Culture is to take advantage of one of their promotions.
In summary, you have lots of options when it comes to holiday cards. If price is your primary concern, we recommend Invite Shop for all-around bargain prices on cardstock; Shutterfly’s options on photo paper; and options from Tiny Prints’ Signature Basics collection. However, out of these three, we feel Invite Shop provides the most bang for your buck since you can fully customize even the cheapest options without having to settle for flimsy photo paper.
When it comes to design quality, Paper Culture appears to have the most modern, outside-the-box designs. However, you will likely pay more and sacrifice most of your customization and trim options if you go with Paper Culture. We recommend PurpleTrail for modern designs that not only have more mass appeal, but also allow full customization, including the ability to mix and match aspects of different designs or add photos and text boxes wherever you want.
Last but not least, PurpleTrail and Invite Shop are the clear winners in terms of customization options. Few card shops offer the ability to change a design from top to bottom without any real restrictions. Clearly, PurpleTrail and Invite Shop have a corner on fostering creativity when it comes to your annual holiday card.