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Customizing greeting cards

Just like handmade "coupons" warm the heart with promises of free hugs and a clean house, personalized greeting cards add a special touch that motivates taking a trip to the mailbox.

Just like handmade "coupons" warm the heart with promises of free hugs and a clean house, personalized greeting cards add a special touch that motivates taking a trip to the mailbox.

Making personalized greeting cards can be done in an assortment of ways - digital photography, stamping and scrapbooking techniques.

One of the most popular trends is to send a simple family photo embellished with a background and message.

Getting started

Taking a family picture begins the process.


"People can bring in a memory card, CD, print or negative," said Craig Winter, store manager of Ritz Camera in Grand Forks.

Winter helps customers pull their pictures up on a computer screen, which is easily accomplished with a memory card or compact disc inserted into the computer. A print is scanned then uploaded to a computer.

A negative requires a similar process but it is harder to work with because it cannot be transferred to the customer computer, which means Winter will have to make all the manipulations from his computer.

Previewing pictures before coming into the store will help speed up the process, Winter said.

"Most people have an idea of which picture they want to use," Winter said.

The remaining decisions, which take about 10 minutes are less daunting.

By use of a touch-screen monitor, the selected picture is "slid" into place on a template. New template designs are offered every year, Winter said. The new designs, about 30, had not yet arrived by early November, but he expected them anytime.

Standard greetings, such as "Happy Holidays" and "Merry Christmas" adorn the left or right side of the 4-by-8-inch glossy card. Additional lettering can be added to the card, such as names of family members.


If a few templates catch a customer's eye, Winter is happy to run a print of each to help a customer make his or her decision. Once a decision is finalized and spelling of names checked, prints will be ready in one hour.

"We're still big on customer service, we'll sit with a customer through every step of the way if they want us to and we have the availability," Winter said.

The personal touchFrom the computer savvy to the computer illiterate, Winter has helped customers of all skill levels achieve a personalized Christmas card.

Yet, for some, these personalized cards are not quite unique enough. Crafting a card from scratch requires more time and commitment, but is rewarding for people who are looking for a creative outlet.

Stacey Rygh, Grand Forks, has turned her passion for photography into a hobby of designing greeting cards.

"It's different, unique, I think everyone should be different," Rygh said.

For the last two years she has spent countless hours creating cards for all types of events - birthday announcements, thank you cards and an assortment of holiday greeting cards, such as Christmas and Halloween.

Catching the eye of friends and family, Rygh has been recruited to make cards for other people's special events, such as Christmas cards and birth announcements.


PhotographyA photo shoot begins the process for Rygh who takes hundred of pictures for one project. By making an investment in Adobe PhotoShop, Rygh conducts all the editing herself. Free online editing downloads also a are available, notes Rygh. She suggests picasa.google.com as a free photo editing software download for beginners who may not be sure if they want to commit to purchasing software.

After she concludes her arrangement of pictures, words, borders and sometimes a background, Rygh saves the finished product. Because printing would be too costly at home, she uploads her material to any commercial Web site where she wants to print and pick up her pictures, such as Wal-Mart, Target and CVS pharmacy.

Another way to receive prints is through the mail by uploading to commercial Web sites, such as Shutterfly, ( www.shutterfly.com ) that will print and mail orders.

"It's just so easy, you don't have to be a 'techie' to do this," Rygh said.

Traditional cardsWhile one-sided glossy greeting cards have become more intricate as well as popular, many people choose more traditional cards. Picking up a box of 12 or 18 prepackaged, shrink rapped cards can be as easy as visiting the nearest retailer, but making traditional greeting cards requires creative vision, too.

Lori Heydt, Grand Forks, makes her own greeting cards for numerous events, including Christmas cards. She uses scrapbooking and stamping techniques to make her cards.

To begin, Heydt purchases cardstock paper, cuts it to size and folds it to make a standard-sized greeting card. Then her "design eyes" take over, layering pieces of paper with different patterns on them.

"I like to keep it simple," Heydt said.


Achieving a simple design means one or two pieces of patterned paper will be used along with a couple embellishments, such as adding brads, eyelits, or ripping a portion of the paper.

Adding various sizes and textures of paper enhance the design, as does other techniques, like embossing, which can be done with an embossing glue.

Stamped words give the greeting card it's meaning, such as "joy," or "peace." Heydt makes her cards with acrylic stamps for a professional look.

While the scrapbooking aspects of making greeting cards are less technology-driven than digital design, both require creativity and give the card a personal feel for recipients to enjoy.

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