For the last couple of years, Will and I have been cutting down our own Christmas tree at a Christmas tree farm in Orange County. It’s truly a novelty in Southern California: 70°F and sunny, palm trees swaying in the breeze, eager families in sneakers and T-shirts winding their way through acres of Monterey pines and Leyland cypresses.
We’ve always brought our whole family to the tree farm, which — until this year — was just us and our two pugs. (I wrote about our first time at the farm here.)
The first year, we must have covered a couple of miles as we ambled through the farm in search of our tree.
Last year, we came to the farm when I was 6 months pregnant and in full stretchy-waistband mode before all the holiday feasting even started.
And this year, we have a cute new addition to our holiday tradition! (The two- and four-legged children were clearly distracted by all the people out of frame!) Also different this year: The pugs, now almost 15 and 14 years old, get to be pulled around in a wagon.
Our dear friends also joined us for the first time, and it was so fun to walk along the rows of pine trees while their kids pulled the wagon and even carried the baby at one point!
This is one of the things I’ve absolutely loved since bringing Gemma into the family — activities that used to involve just the two (or four) of us have evolved into new traditions that only become merrier and more meaningful. I already thought it was pretty special to spend an afternoon with my husband, walking ’round and ’round till we found the perfect pine, and taking the annual obligatory butt shot while he knelt on the ground and cut down our tree.
But being able to share that experience with Gemma (even though she’s far too young to remember it right now) and continuing a tradition that will hopefully be one of the highlights of her childhood… it all feels extra special.
And speaking of traditions, we started another one this year that I hope I’ll be disciplined enough to keep up every year! We made family Christmas cards for the first time, which is kind of crazy considering Will and I have been together for 10 years. But we hadn’t felt a need to until we had a baby, and sharing an annual portrait with a little update seemed like a wonderful way to show our loved ones (especially the ones who weren’t on social media) how our family had grown over the past year.
Minted offered us a complimentary set of cards to try their service and tell you what we thought of the process, from initial design to finished product. I was already familiar with Minted from being on their mailing list, so I was excited for the opportunity to partner with them. Since we skipped official birth announcements when Gemma was born, we decided to go all out on the Christmas cards and fill them with pictures of the baby. (Because let’s be honest, the family and friends who will be receiving them really just want to see her, not us!)
We went with a surf-themed family portrait at our local beach (which we took ourselves with the help of a remote trigger) and hallelujah, we found a shot where all of us were smiling with our eyes open at the same time!
Once we chose our picture, I uploaded it to Minted through the “Find It Fast” option so I could see our picture sampled on all of their card designs. I loved this feature, although it was good and bad that there were so many to choose from! I must have spent hours browsing their design library. Ultimately, I narrowed it down to this one.
The options we chose for our folding card were signature paper (a lovely matte cardstock), gold glitter foil press, six images inside the card with a personal message, solid red backing, gold glitter slip-in envelope liners, return addressing, and recipient addressing. I especially liked the fact that Minted offers matching envelopes with free recipient addressing; you either upload a spreadsheet with your mailing list or add them manually in the Address Assistant. The addresses remain in your account so you can order future cards more easily. (I took the time to do this as I love giving and receiving paper invitations and greetings, so hopefully having my address book already online will inspire me to send more of them later on.)
Because we weren’t able to include our pugs in the photo shoot, we decided to design a set of custom postage stamps with their image on it. (I went with the Snowflake Doodles design.) Seeing the stamps with the pugs in their festive red sweaters makes me smile every time.
Our order arrived in a timely manner and was packaged beautifully. They also included a stack of vellum sheets to slip inside the cards to help prevent ink transfer during postal handling. The envelope liners did require assembly, but the hubby and I just set aside a couple of evenings to stick them inside the envelopes and write personal notes in the cards. It was a satisfying and meditative ritual, and we loved doing it together while reminiscing on the past year and sipping merlot.
If holiday cards are on your to-do list but you haven’t gotten around to sending them yet, I’m thrilled to offer you a chance to win one of three $100 gift credits to Minted so you can design a custom card of your own. The credits can also be used on any product on their site, including announcements, invitations, and art. (And if you’re worried about getting your cards on time, here’s their holiday delivery schedule.)
To win one of three $100 gift credits to Minted:
The giveaway is open to US residents only. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM Pacific Time on Monday, December 12, 2016. Three winners will be randomly drawn by a representative of Minted and notified by email. Good luck and happy holidays to all!
This post is brought to you by Minted. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that support Garden Betty.