Escaping the Humdrum Holiday Card!

Article by: Nicki Reese, Navy Spouse

Every year, we receive the same type of holiday card. The entire family, posed in a similar manner, around a Christmas tree or sitting on a couch. Sure, we may get the odd one taken at the beach or in a foreign country, but they all seem alike. At some point last year, I started to think that we could all be doing more to really show our holiday spirit. In all honesty, I sort of got my inspiration from the “Awkward Family Photo” cards available at Target. I remember thinking to myself “Why can’t I do that with my family?” What if we all stepped out of our comfort zone and had a little more fun with our holiday greeting cards? What a great way to show your loved ones that your family is unique?

I’ve taken the liberty of comprising a list of various greeting card ideas that I am certain will impress even the biggest Grinch you know!

Ugly Sweater Photo

Many of us have heard about or even attended an “Ugly Sweater” Christmas party. Get all those hideous sweaters and clothing items together and snap a memorable family photo. Even better….surround yourselves with tinsel and tacky Christmas decorations!! Those horrible antler headbands? Put those on as well. Have a green and red tutu for the dog? Go for it!! I’m telling you; this picture will be amazing.

A shirt such as this one (found at a local Goodwill for just $3) will add some pizzazz, and is certain to bring a smile to the face of your loved ones when they open your card. Or, you may order on online. I found quite the collection at

Time Period Photo

Picture it…your family…dressed in preppy fifties attire… sitting around a table with a turkey and all the trimmings…you…serving them with a huge smile on your face, an apron and high heels to boot! If you can get your husband to hold a pipe, that would really bring it home.

Your family could pose in western attire and stage a duel in the street. You could dig through the back of your closet and bring out all of that 80’s garb. You could even decide to go back to the time your children are certain you must remember…and all dress as cavemen.

The beautiful thing about this idea is that you can reflect ANY time period of your choosing! The possibilities really are endless!!

Family Lifestyle Photo

Assuming that your family life doesn’t include guzzling beer, smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and general wild shenanigans, then you could snap a picture of your family doing what it does best.

Is your family environmentally friendly? If so, I’d go the “green” route and reuse various household items to create a Christmas greeting that would make Al Gore jealous and pose in front of it with your favorite “We recycle” tees. Use bottle caps and paper clips to make the “ornaments.” The caption could read, “We recycle everything, especially holiday cheer.”

They say, “The family that enjoys to run has the most fun.” I’ve actually never heard anyone say that, but if your family gets a thrill out of exercising together, you could easily highlight your adventures on your holiday card. If you all do a lot of cycling as a family, get everyone dressed in their best garb (complete with helmet and any sort of padding) and snap those photos! What could the greeting say? “As we cycled along this trail, we captured this pic for your holiday mail.”

Duty Station Photo

What better way to say, “We are stationed in Millington (or, the duty station of your choice), but we still miss you” than with a holiday card that reflects the duty station? My family, for instance, is currently stationed in Millington, TN. Now, because the area is known for its barbeque, it might be nice to incorporate that theme in our greeting card. We could sit at a picnic table and surround ourselves with BBQ sauce, ribs, and pulled pork. I think that pig hats would also be a nice touch. The holiday message could be “I hope your holidays are as swell as swine.”

Let’s say you find your family in Japan. Why not don traditional Geisha attire and have your husband be a Sumo wrestler? It would also be really cool if your family members were fans of the band Styx because then the caption could read “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto.” While it’s true that statement has nothing to do with the holidays, I still think it’d be well received.

When in Rome, I think that pasta should be the order of the day. Ideally, seeing the entire family sitting on a huge mound of pasta would be hysterical, but I realize that would be quite costly and rather messy. So, in lieu of one huge pasta dish, you could set the table to include several pasta dishes and bottles of wine.

I’m originally from Norfolk, VA. As many of you know, Norfolk has quite the military population. It might be tempting to focus your holiday greeting card on a beach scene or perhaps even an aircraft carrier. I, however, am going to challenge you to get out of that comfort zone and think about doing something different! Most of us stationed in Norfolk or the Hampton Roads area are aware of the horrendous traffic on the Hampton Roads Tunnel. Here’s an idea! Take a picture of it, superimpose your family member’s faces in there amongst the traffic and include the greeting “Wish you were stuck with us this holiday season.” You could probably even use the photo at the top of this page!

Last Christmas, my family went with a more traditional pose (as seen here). And, there’s nothing wrong with that. It looked lovely on the stationary. But, it wasn’t fresh and bold! This year we decided to be more creative, step out of that comfort zone, and send a card that would truly be memorable for all of the friends and family who receive them this holiday season. Let’s just take a look at what we came up with! Here are the options:

I think it’s clear that these are fun, unique, and certain to make our loved ones smile.

I don’t have all the answers to every holiday conundrum, but I truly believe that by putting a little more thought into our greeting cards, we can increase holiday cheer! Imagine getting stacks and stacks of new and original cards absolutely full of creative ideas, unique scenarios and just plain fun!

Formerly a high school English teacher, Nicki hit the “pause” button on her lucrative career in order to support her family and the Global Force For Good. In addition to changing diapers, helping with homework, and struggling with all the crafty things she “should” be making, she also, at completely random times, writes a blog. You may find her at

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