DIY Alternatives to Sending Christmas Cards

(Updated November 2021)

I will be honest, I absolutely hate writing out Christmas cards and find it a chore rather than a spreading of joy and cheer. I decided to come up with some ideas of DIY alternatives to sending Christmas cards.

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”.

Read on to find out how I’ve sent Christmas wishes over the last few years.


The idea for my 2021 DIY alternative to Christmas cards, came earlier in the year when a friend admired a houseplant of mine, so I grew a selection of plants over the year in preparation. I toyed with the idea of making music inspired planters, but as we are all partial to a cup of tea, I decided to use a mug as a plant pot instead.

a selection of mugs with plants growing in them with a label saying grown with love

 TINS OF TEA – 2020

2020 was a strange old year and we didn’t see many of our closest friends due to us all living in different parts of the country.  We normally meet up at gigs or at my house for an informal tea party.

I wanted to do a little something extra in 2020, so along with a music inspired Christmas bauble, I sent my friends a tin of festive tea. We couldn’t have a tea party, but I could at least send them tea. Those who live closer to me got homemade cakes and cookies.

3 tins with christmas decorations on the front containing tea. Each tea has tiny snowballs, holly leaves and gingerbread men mixed in


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.


In 2017 my alternative to sending Christmas cards was decided a year in advance as I was hoping to get my friends on board 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.


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.

photo of a christmas tree made from logs against a pale brick wall with a text overlay DIY alternatives to christmas cards by tea and cake for the soul
Save for later – original photo by pascal claivaz from Pexels






30 thoughts on “DIY Alternatives to Sending Christmas Cards

  1. I don’t mind writing Christmas cards, but I think it’s always great to mix things up and create new traditions. Your ideas are so creative! I love the bauble exchange idea and might even suggest this to my friends next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love these! Especially the word clouds. There’s someone in Orkney who makes pictures of Orkney scenes and even just simple wooden heart shapes with names of streets in the town or even farms in the area (I have one of the island I’m from and my parents’ farm is on it!). She’s expanded to towns all across the UK now and they’re so cool and creative! Would love to learn how to do it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. These are fab ideas – you can still do the Mr Men portraits on another site (at least, I did last year..) Never thought of the candlestick idea before. Love the idea of baubles, as you say it’s that sentimental aspect that means a lot.xx

    Liked by 1 person

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