Create a Unique Holiday Card: Family Portrait in Ornament Reflection that Hangs on the Tree!

You know… I wasn’t quite sure how to title this post!  Thanks to Pinterest I found a great idea for our Holiday card.  It was a photo of a family but reflected in a Christmas Ornament.  I wanted to make it a little more interesting so I thought up a way that the ornament could then become an ornament to hang on the tree!

Supplies and Skills needed: A shiny ornament, a little Photoshop Knowledge, a Tripod, and preferably a remote controlled Camera.  For the printed card and you will need a Sewing Machine.

First- Take your Family Photo!

Set your ornament up (you can either hold it or hang from something.  We chose our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree) and get your family together in front of it.  Do some practicing to decide what position will work best, and get your camera set up in the background.  The farther away- with a zoom lens- will work the best.  The smaller the camera in the background the easier it will be to photoshop out.  

We used a remote to snap photos which was immensely helpful.  If you don’t have one you could use a timer but I have a feeling you might get a different kind of picture than you hoped for!

After about 20-30 takes (I kept getting my head in the POV of the camera, which resulted in beautiful photos of the back of my hair!) and a lot of photos of the boys grabbing for the ornament, we had a decent shot.

Next Step: Photoshop out the Camera

My husband took the reigns on this one.  Although I can Clone Stamp with the best of them, he does most of our editing.  He used the clone stamp to remove the camera and the tripod out of the photo.  We used a photo umbrella and strobe light to help with lighting and that was visible in the photo as well, so he clone stamped out the umbrella lines to make it look more like a reflection of light.  He also lightened up the image from what you see below to the finished product, and added snowflakes with a PS Texture he downloaded.

Making The Card:

I cropped the photo to a post card size to upload to a photo printing site.  I am a big fan and user of  From past experience I have noticed that when I just photoshop a card that the text isn’t as crisp as I like, so I ended up relying on the text in Zazzle.  I spent DAYS agonizing over a little poem and just couldn’t get the darn thing to say what I wanted, stay in rythym, and ryhme.  I am NOT a poet.  So instead I settled on the epic phrase “Happy Holidays.”

I LOVE sending post cards in lieu of traditional cards or photo cards in an envelope.  It saves time, and trees when you realize you won’t have to use a seperate envelope!  I also think it is kinda cool that your address is on the back.  If they save it they will always have that little reminder of where you were when the card was sent, and a postage stamp date.  Zazzle does have the option and a preformatted back.  I chose to also pre-address each postcard each recipient’s address.  I have atrocious penmanship so this extra step was more for me than anyone else.  Tip: keep a Google Doc of Card Addresses so you can copy/paste them anytime you need them.  

Now you are ready to order your prints!  I also went ahead and used Zazzle to buy my postcard stamps (which are only .29 cents versus regular letter stamps at .44 cents) and had them customized with a special message from our family!

Optional: Make it a real ornament!

I decided to also make the ornament “punch” out to be hung from the Christmas Tree for our family and friends.  I thought this was a nice way to be present in their lives over the holiday season since we would be spending it away from them.

I practiced on a few extra postcards I had leftover from my wedding announcements almost 5 years ago!  I found out that you can use a sewing machine to perforate paper by leaving out the thread.  Brilliant!

With my machine, a 2.0 length stitch with the needle for heavy weight cloth worked best for a POST CARD.  If you would like to use this trick for anything else you will want a closer stitch, the punched out item will look smoother and be easier.  Since my cards will go unprotected in the mail I needed a wider perforation.  I tried the smallest stitch and it worked perfectly and punched out easily…. too easy to make it in one piece via USPS and no envelope.  Also, every machine is different so experiment, experiment, experiment!

Stitch around your ornament.  I chose only to stitch the circle and not the knobby top portion.  Easier, faster, and easier for punching out on the receiving end.

You might notice your needle getting dull after many post cards.  I was able to make it through 25+ before noticing.   I could have used a new needle but I only had 30 total so I kept trucking.  You will want a new needle before stitching your fabrics again.

Next, punch a hole at the top for your friends and family to insert an ornament hook or ribbon.  If you are sending this in an envelope consider including one.  If you have a tiny punch you can use that, or just use a sharp nail or anything that can make a hole.  We are being ghetto with the sewing machine, why stop now? (I actually rushed myself to finish these before the mail truck came so I completely forgot this step on the ones I sent… Oops!)

Add your stamp, put in the mailbox, and wait for your recipients to call and compliment you on such a cool idea! (Or write on your Facebook Wall)  Your ornament can go on the tree, or they can keep the card as is.

If I had to do it all over again I would use a different color ornament because the bronze really blended in with the background and made finding the edge when stitching difficult.  Plus a brighter color would POP more on the card.

I would also be more aware of the placement of the addresses on the back.  The stitching went over it but none were made unreadable by it.  Plus, the stamp went over the perforation.  I wish the stamp were smaller…

Happy Holidays!

I think there are a lot of fun ways you could improve on this card, let me know in the comments!

PS: The extra cool factor is that our card looks a lot like the album cover for Gish by the Smashing Pumpkins.  You all know I am a BIG fan right?

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