Forget generic images of Rudolph, Santa and chestnuts roasting on open fires. Photo cards have become the way to personalize your season greetings.
As they continue to grow in popularity, plenty of providers have jumped on the bandwagon, making it crucial that you choose the best photo cards service possible. Picking out a company that excels in quality, speed and cost is paramount - and that's where this TechRadar buying guide comes in.
And for the uninitiated wondering what a photo card is, let us bring you up to speed. You've probably received one yourself over the years and wondered how your aunt and uncle were able to get pictures of them and their family on the front of a greetings card. You simply go to one of the recommended services below, upload the image (or images) from your computer or phone that you want to send out to your loved ones and the photo cards company will take care of the printing. And if you're not exactly of a creative bent, these websites have numerous great designs already available for you to use.
And it doesn't stop at Christmas. These services also have photo card templates for birthdays, save-the-date, new arrivals, holidays and pretty much every other occasion you can think of.
Note: for now, these are just US photo cards services. We'll be adding UK services shortly, so watch this space if you're in Blighty!
- Or print your own - our best photo printers you can buy
The best photo cards in the US
So many options and super quality to match
For us, Mixbook is the cream of the crop when it comes to the highly populated world of photo book websites. So what sets Mixbook apart from the rest? Well it's an embarrassment of riches really, as the service offers a reasonable costing service but without scrimping quality. The vast amount of templates for seemingly every occasion you'll ever think of is dizzying. And they're fully customizable too, so if the templates aren't quite doing it for you, you can chop and cut to your heart's content until you get it just so.
All that careful design is only any good if the quality is there to match. Fortunately, Mixbook produced some of the best quality cards of any provider that we've seen. Think crisp colors and sharp detail. Plus, Mixbook invariably has a 50% off introductory offer, so you can give it a whirl without paying full price if you're still a bit tentative.
2. Simply to Impress
Simply excellent photo cards
Most other photo book services good large on range. Calendars, albums, scrap books - the lot. But Simply to Impress has scaled that all back to simply offer high quality photo cards quickly. It's quality over diversification, and the result is strikingly good.
That's not to say that its range of photo cards is in the least bit limited. Holidays, Hanukkah, births, baptisms, Bar Mitzvahs, Quinceañera, birthdays. We could go on and on (and on), as the list of templates and occasions feels almost completely exhaustive.
All cards are printed on thick, premium card with a choice of five finishes. And standard orders print and ship within 2 business days with expedited printing services also available. You don't get to be as creative as with Mixbook, but with the amount of templates on show it shouldn't matter.
Prices starting at 30 cents a card - some of the most affordable photo cards
We have to say that Snapfish has been pretty smart in its photo card business model. It's teamed up with the likes of CVS and Walgreens to allow you pick up your orders in store. That could be a real boon if you're worried about your cards being delivered properly to your home - it could just be a more convenient option.
Prices are really good here, especially if you're buying in bulk. In fact, we really like the options Snapfish offers in terms of packs of multiple cards. And we're really impressed by the look of the new foil cards it offers - they're a bit more pricey, of course, but perfect for somebody special.
We count more than 1,000 different templates available, which can also be customized (but even that is less than some other services). However, unless you pay more for extra speed, you may be waiting over a week for your cards.
100% satisfaction guarantee and cute designs
Chances are that you may have come across Zazzle before. The company offers such a large array of personalized products - t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, pet treats, pillow cases, blankets, etc (the list really does go on) - that you may well have used it before either in your personal life or at work. It also produces photo cards, and they're really rather good.
On the plus side, Zazzle has tonnes of designs - many of which are much more attractive than what some other services offer, there's a real focus from this site on aesthetics - and the quality is borne out by the company's prominent 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee. But despite the service's ode to customizing, you can't actually play around with the designs.
- See also: the best photo books in the US and UK