DIY Alternatives to Sending Christmas Cards

I will be honest, I absolutely hate writing out Christmas cards and find it a chore rather than a spreading of joy and cheer. A few years back, it started to become quite popular to not send Christmas cards and make a donation to charity instead. That is great but it didn’t seem right somehow not to send wishes of some kind.

I did e-cards a for a couple of years and even the generic “Merry Christmas everyone” on Facebook, but that felt a bit of a cop-out too, so in 2014 my DIY alternatives to Christmas Cards tradition was born entitled  “Not a Christmas Card”.


As I love upcycled crafts, I decided to make my nearest and dearest a bistro style wine bottle candle with its own unique label. I raided my neighbours’ recycling crates for empty wine bottles (with permission) and set about melting wax to achieve the desired effect of a burning dripping candle.

I had such fun making them and picking out suitable photos for the label. Feedback was wonderful, everyone loved receiving such a unique greeting instead of a card, and it’s a real honour to see them all still adorning people’s mantelpieces and window sills.

13 wine bottles with candles in the top on a glass shelf
Personalised Bistro Bottle Candlesticks

The idea came from an online promotion that Famous Grouse were running where you could make a personalised label that included a photo and surname of recipients entitled “The Famous ……….s”.

But it’s easy enough to make a photo label on any pc editing package, print it off to stick on a bottle. You can buy a pack of large candles from any Pound Shop and if you wait til after Christmas you can probably pick up a pack of 10 for just 50p! So price wise it’s going to cost you less than a pack of nice cards and will be made with love.


Last year’s alternative to sending Christmas cards was decided a year in advance as I was hoping to get my friends onboard for a mutual exchange. It involved buying rather than making so I needed time to find something that matched the personalities of the recipients.

gold bauble pink cake bauble and treble clef bauble hanging on tree
Christmas baubles keep on giving each year

As I’ve become older, I’m more sentimental about what Christmas tree decorations signify. The baubles that are now hanging on the tree reflect my children growing up, photo baubles of family members, some of whom are no longer with us, decorations that have been given to me by children and staff I’ve worked with and of course the Christmas robin who sits on top of the tree to let Santa in. (There’s no chimney in our house you see!). They all evoke lovely memories.

Now that people are starting to put up their trees and baubles are being hung, I’m getting some lovely messages again this year. I love that we are now be remembered as part of people’s traditions.


In 2015, my alternative Christmas card was influenced by a promotion that Beefeater was running. There was an online programme in place to make a family portrait out of Mr Men and Little Miss. It was very easy to make with a choice of background and several characters. You simply added the family’s names and then saved as a jpeg to print.

selection of christmas cards on a glass shelf
Print as a card or bigger to be framed

I loved matching up my friends to their own Mr Men and Little Miss personas.  I did actually make these into cards but sent a larger copy of the picture to many of the recipients who have since framed or laminated their “Family Portraits”.   I really enjoyed making something so personal to each family.

* UPDATE 2018Heathrow Airport have this promo running currently. (thanks Invisibly Me for the heads up)


The alternative to Christmas cards in 2016 was decided on after I self taught myself how to use the word cloud programme Tagxedo. I set about making my own custom-made shapes to suit the interests of those I was sending too. The shapes were then filled with personal words making another unique gift.

There are other similar programmes such as Wordle, Wordcloud, etc and tutorials can be found on YouTube.  Again these are suitable for any occasion and I have seen them printed onto t-shirts, cushions, mugs, etc. I do love giving and receiving things that have had some thought put into them.

word cloud pictures of snowman robin santa tree
I’ve done these at other times of year too.

Do you still send Christmas cards or have you started a new giving tradition instead?

Or do you make your own?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments.


stormy pink sky sun setting over the ocean





18 thoughts on “DIY Alternatives to Sending Christmas Cards

  1. Some great ideas! I have to say that I like sending personal wishes to people I don’t see all year, of which I have a few, to catch up on news. I don’t think cards should be a chore, done for the sake of it, in which case should be dropped for people you don’t really need to send to, or to create something alternative (like you do) for the special people!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your ideas, I did do the Little Men and Miss prints when Beefeater were doing the campaign. I love the candles best though…and I was just thinking about how many wine bottles are in my neighbours recycle bin, lol.

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  3. And we’ve still got our wine bottle on display in our kitchen every day of the year, the Mr & Mrs saved (should frame a copy!) and our haninging Xmas decoration which will be out again very soon! All hold lovely memories and thoughts. Much better than cards!

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  4. I’m having a dilemma about the card situation this year, but I think it’s more driven by finding the time to sit and write them out (and laziness). I still have all the alternate cards you’ve made us over the years and have loved the inventiveness. Our cat bauble has pride of place next to the TV (which is where our larger, more out of control real one can sometimes be found). The bauble idea is somthing I’ve done over the years but as gifts – Macy’s has been a great source of inspiration for this. Paperchase also has a wondeful array and is great for a bargain or two in the sales. I think more than ever I can see the appeal of charity ones and perhaps I’ll find time one evening this week to sit down and write some out. Verge bought @coldwarsteve Christmas cards (all proceeds go to MIND), so they may well be winging their way around the country soon…if I can find a pen that works…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Despite Christmas falling with such regularity and having 12 months notice you’d think there’d be better organisation! Unfortunately handwriting duties get allocated to me so it’s no wonder it always ends up being a last mintue thing. Do hope you feel better very soon and no matter if those cards don’t get wriiten as I’m a firm believer in counting thoughts x

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  5. Wooooow this is so cool!! Amazing to see this is still going as you did it back in 2015. I love the idea of making them into Christmas cards, and then doing a larger copy to the recipient can frame it is such a lovely idea – they look fab! =]
    Caz xx

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