Six offbeat photo cards for the holidays

Want holiday cards that get noticed? From unusual shapes to multimedia embellishments, these six designs offer a fresh take on the traditional photo greeting. Just be ready to cash in your 401k.

Cards worthy of a permanent place on the fridge

Not to panic you or anything, but if you plan on sending personalized holiday cards that include family photos, it’s time to get moving. After all, those cards aren’t going to just shoot, design, order, address, stamp, and mail themselves.

There are numerous Websites and one-hour photo kiosks that let you upload a photo, drop it into a glossy 4-by-8-inch template, and then bulk order copies. If fact, you can order photo cards right from iPhoto (we’ve got tips for getting the best results). But if you’re looking to stand out from the crowd this year—and have some money burning a hole in your bank account—try one of these.

For those with lots of news to share

Most holiday cards offer space for one or two photo and a simple, one-line message of good tidings. If that’s not nearly enough to express all of your good tidings, check out the options at Photoworks. This photo site continues to have one of the best and most varied selections of creative card designs around. For example, the multifold Yummy Christmas design (shown here) lets you include three photos as well as several paragraphs of text, so you can fit in photos of the family pets and go into detail about what you and the little ones have been up to this year.

Price: $3.95 per card, with discounts for bulk orders.

For those who love the sound of their own voice

When a printed greeting isn’t enough for you, Snapfish offers a line of recordable photo cards that let you say hi in your own voice. Simply upload your photos, design the font and inside of this folded 5-by-7-inch card (Snapfish offers more than 800 options), and wait for the card to arrive in your mail. Once you have it in hand, you can record a 10-second voice greeting (or one bar of a bad holiday song), and then send it on to the recipient. At almost $6 per card, you won’t be using these for everyone on your list, but they add a nice personal touch for far-away grandparents.

Price: $5.99 per card

For book lovers

The collection of minibook cards at are less like holiday cards and more like very small designer photo books. This 5-by-7-inch card features multiple tiered pages held together with two silver grommets. You can choose from designs with text and photos, or just stick with photos. The company also offers a holiday card collection featuring a timeline of your year with photos. As you’d imagine, these cards come at a designer price. After you place your order, you’ll get a digital proof of your card to check for any problems.

Price: $125 for a set of 25 cards. Discounts for larger orders.

For those who hate sharp corners

Put a little swing into your holiday greeting with this peace-loving die-cut card, also from Photoworks. The card combines two photos and a simple greeting on three circles, each 4.75 inches in diameter. Thread a pretty string through the brass grommet and mom can hang it as an ornament. Send a few and Aunt Sue can use them as eggnog coasters.

Price: $4.95 per card, with discounts for bulk orders

For those trying to go green

Love sending beautiful cards but feel guilty about the poor trees? Pear Tree Greetings offers a line of cards and envelopes made from 100 percent recycled paper. The cards appear on flat 5-by-7-inch card stock. A few of the designs are a bit heavy-handed with the green message, working in recycling icons. But hey, it’s not the holidays without a little guilt.

Price: $22.99 for a set of 24 cards; discounts for larger orders.

For those who like to stand out

At first glance, this folded holiday card from Tiny Prints looks fairly typical. But open up the flap and the inside photo pops up, producing a 3D display of your family portrait. If you’d like to see the card in person before you order, you can get a sample pack that includes the pop-up card (as well as two other premium designs) for $1. Once you’ve designed your cards, you can opt to have Tiny Prints mail some or all of your cards for you.

Price $128.50 for 25 cards; discounts for larger orders.

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