Beyond the Card: “Happy Holidays” Never Looked So Good

Replace your traditional holiday greeting card with a unique and personalized digital creation.

Beyond the Card: “Happy Holidays” Never Looked So Good
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It’s that time of year again — time for holiday cards to start filling up your mailbox and friends and for relatives to ask when they can expect yours. But the process of creating and sending a holiday card or letter can be time-consuming, tedious, and — for many of us — not something we want to worry about during an already stressful time of year. If sending your loved ones holiday greetings each year feels like a chore, it’s time to consider some fun, modern alternatives.

1. Custom GIF.

A family portrait is a popular tradition for a season’s greetings card, but getting that perfect picture can seem impossible. Avoid the stress of deciding between a photo with someone’s eyes closed and a photo with someone looking away from the camera by combining several stills or a short video into a custom GIF.

Image Source: GIPHY

Learning how to make an animated GIF isn’t hard, even if you don’t have design or photography experience. Take a series of photos in quick succession or a short video while your family moves around slightly. For example, you and your family can wave at the camera or engage in a holiday activity, like decorating the tree or lighting the menorah.

Once you’ve chosen your shots, follow these step-by-step instructions for creating the GIF. Remember that since the image will be moving, the photos don’t need to be perfect. In fact, a little bit of creative license can give your GIF character, like these holiday loops featured on Behance.

2. Moving Message — In Video.

A year-in-review newsletter is another popular holiday greeting, but text alone gets stale year after year. If you want to share a memorable message with your loved ones, consider creating a short video. Applications like Adobe Spark simplify the process of combining assets like text, family or stock photos, and even your own video clips into a memorable greeting. You can also add music or have a family member or friend narrate.

Choose from various layouts, themes, and soundtracks to instantly customize your greeting. Enjoy experimenting with the different options until you find something that suits your message. Whether you want your greeting to have a fun and festive air or a more solemn tone, you will find plenty of elements to fit your theme.

As you design your video, try to keep it simple. Limit the amount of text by choosing short, powerful quotes or simple statements. Add your favorite personal photos and video clips or pick from free stock photos to highlight your message. Spark will automatically add beautiful transitions and motions.

For a longer video message, rely on video visuals rather than text. With options including title and end cards and music, you can express season’s greetings in a cheerful, unique, and easily accessible way. For an extra professional look, consider using a camera stabilizer to capture the video and practicing beforehand to make sure it turns out just right.

Learn how to make your own video greeting here.

3. Party invitation.

Why stop at a friendly virtual greeting when you can wish your geographically close friends happy holidays in person? To set the right mood for your party, start with the right party invitation. If you don’t have much design experience, consider using an invitation template like those available through Adobe Spark to whip up something festive and engaging without taking too much time away from other holiday tasks.

You can choose whether to do a basic single page flyer, a video, or an entire web page. For a standard invitation, choose a holiday-related color scheme and few free graphics that match the theme of your party.

Click here to download and personalize this free template.

If you feel confident producing a video invitation, keep the text and graphics to the point and avoid letting the video go too long. Anywhere from 10-15 seconds is a reliable standard. With Spark, you can either set the video to music or a personal voice recording.

Above all, remember to include the date, location, time, and anything else your guests need to know.

4. Printable calendar.

Perhaps you want to send a holiday greeting that will be useful as well as sentimental. You can use a calendar template to send a virtual gift to everyone on your list. The template comes with step-by-step instructions to help you easily put the calendar together, and you can personalize it in a variety of ways. Consider including pictures of family members as the photo for each month, and marking important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, and reunions.

Image Source: Mitu Mariam

5. End-of-year infographic.

If you want to share the details of your year in a visual way, consider an appealing infographic instead of a written letter. You can deliver the same amount of information as you would in a typical holiday letter, but with images and charts to cut down on the text.

Before you start designing the infographic, plan out what information you would like to share. Consider which details lend themselves to graphics and visuals. Did you move during the year? You could include a map of the new location. Did you introduce a new child or pet to the family? Include a vector image to represent the new addition. You can also do a “by the numbers” section to list important milestones — points scored in sports games, books read during the year, hours spent practicing a musical instrument and the like. End-of-year infographics are great for businesses, too.

Image Source: Stu Ohler

The presentation is almost as important as the information itself when it comes to infographics, so give some thought to the layout. Tips for getting started include sketching the design out first, choosing the right platform (try Adobe Illustrator CC), and deciding on a color scheme.

6. Cinemagraph.

A cinemagraph is a piece of art where a portion of the photo is still and a portion of the image moves on a continual loop. Like a GIF, they can add life and dimension to a traditional photo. By including only a single moving element, you will give your greeting card a sense of elegance and help your holiday wishes stand out.

To make your own cinemagraph, follow these detailed instructions from photographer Lindsay Adler. She created a cinemagraph of a model standing beneath falling snow by adding a video of snowfall on a loop as a layer on Photoshop CC, then set the blend mode to “screen.” The end product looks as though the person in the photograph is standing in a snowfall, and the loop lasts indefinitely. Falling snow, blinking Christmas lights, flickering candles on the Menorah — all of these and more can add a perfectly subtle moving element to your portrait.

7. Family memories web page.

Sometimes, you have so much to share that a letter, card, or creative image won’t suffice. If you want to let everyone in your family have their say, consider setting up a website where each member of the family can  highlight their achievements and favorite photos and videos. With Spark Page, you don’t need any design or web experience to easily create a beautiful web page. Simply add your text, photos and even videos, and we’ll automatically add fluid, elegant motion. And all you’ll need to do to share your story is send the link in an email. This tutorial shows you how simple and easy it can be to create a beautiful, festive web page you can share with family and friends.

Deliver holiday greetings that will entertain your friends and family and add some extra merriment to the season by using the Adobe Creative Cloud to create your own unique alternatives to the typical holiday card.

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