Producing Your Own Custom Christmas Cards is So Easy That Even the Family Chihuahua Can Do It.
The Christmas Card Tradition
Christmas is always a busy time. In addition to the usual activities of work and home, the Christmas Season has a host of its own activities.
Christmas shopping, putting up decorations, holiday baking, Christmas parties and visits with friends all take up time. Then there are the Christmas cards.
Christmas cards are a wonderful tradition that began in the nineteenth century and have been popular ever since. However, like other good things, Christmas cards do require some time as one has to get the cards, sign them, address and mail them.
Much as my wife and I like to send out Christmas cards, we usually don’t get around to finishing and mailing them until a couple of days before Christmas. So, this year at Thanksgiving I decided to get an early start. Of course I was busy and didn’t have time but my intention was good.
This past February I had a similar time crunch problem when Darlene Sabella challenged me to join her in a 30 Hubs in 30 Days writing challenge. As I explained in my Hub Accepting a Challenge to Write 30 Hubs in 30 Days, I felt I needed help with that because of my limited time and ended up drafting our Chihuahua, Chika, to help me.
While she looked impressive in the photos that accompanied the Hubs and managed to garner much of the credit for writing the Hubs, I ended up doing all of the work. She couldn’t even keep track of the output and I actually ended up publishing 31 Hubs in 30 days.
Chika Uses Technology to Craft a Beautiful Card
However, thanks to modern technology, even a Chihuahua should be able to produce a batch of affordable, professional looking cards.
Modern printing is a highly automated process. All Chika had to do was sit down at my computer and log on to the website of the printing company - in this case we used Vistaprint.com, a company my brother had introduced me to a few years ago.
Once on the site she entered the coupon code for 10 free photo Christmas cards (while I let her use my computer, I knew better than to give her my credit card so she knew she had to keep this on a tight budget).
Next, she looked through close to 100 card designs and selected a very nice one for our card. All of the templates had a space for a family picture, so she began a search of the vast library of photos on my computer.
Being a conceited mutt, she selected one of her alone. This despite the fact that we have plenty of photos with her and the four of us humans still living in the house as well of some with our other two children who are out living on their own.
She choose Merry Christmas as her greeting and then put that it was from Chika & Family with our names appearing as an afterthought following the Chika & Family as if we, not her, are the pets in the house.
Producing Your Christmas Cards Online is Easy
Vistaprint has a nice business model in which they offer a small, basic range of greeting cards, business cards, calendars, etc. for free or at a large discount (however, a shipping and handlling fee is charged).
As a visitor proceeds through the process of creating their item, they offer additional enhancements for a fee. In this case the basic card was very nice but she could have, for a fee, had writing on the back in color, engraved, rather than plain, envelopes, etc.
Chika did make two additions. She first added 10 additional cards for which she was charged about $6 and then she selected expedited shipping for another $6 or so instead of the standard shipping costing between $3 and $4 making the total charge for our cards $13 and some change.
The shipping was unbelievable. Chika created and ordered and the cards on Friday and they were in our mailbox on the following Monday.
How the Process Works
Many companies offer the same create your own cards service that we received from Vistaprint.
My younger brother and his wife, who always get their cards out early (and whom I thought we could beat this year) sent us a card, which arrived the same day our cards arrived from the printer.
While they used a photo site rather than the site that we used, they were also able to quickly produce a beautiful Christmas card to send out.
Of course hey not only started earlier, but also did the work themselves rather than delegating to one of their pets - so they had family photo with the pet rather than just a photo of their pet on their cards.
While I haven’t seen Vistaprint’s operation or that of any other printing company, I did attend a seminar once where they showed, step by step, how the Internet and robotics were revolutionizing the ordering, printing and delivery of business cards and other printing for businesses.
In that model customers (businesses in this case but individuals as well) create an electronic account with the printing company.
On the account designated employees are given purchasing authority along with spending limits for them (I did this with Chika by simply giving her the password to the site but not my credit card). This relieves the purchasing department from having to process hundreds of small order requests which can be a sizable savings in terms of labor costs.
The employee ordering business cards for himself or herself, logs on to the printer’s site and, like Chika, uses templates to create the card they need. The design is electronically transmitted to the print shop while the charge is transmitted to the billing department where it is automatically posted by the computer to the client’s account and an invoice electronically transmitted to the client for payment.
In the print shop, computers direct automated machinery to print, cut, package and label the cards for shipment. The first time human hands touch the order following the customer’s logging on to the printing company’s website is when the package containing the cards is picked up off the conveyor belt and placed on a truck for delivery.
Thanks to Technology we Have Lower Prices, More Products and Higher Wages
This process produces great savings in that it eliminates almost all of the manual labor that used to be involved in the production of printed material. Of course, while manual labor is eliminated, humans are still very much involved in the process.
More than likely there are as many skilled technicians keeping the system running as there were laborers doing the actual printing, cutting, wrapping, billing, etc. in the past.
The difference now is that the same number of, or possibly even a few more, humans are producing, with the aid of technology, many times the quantity of printing services produced manually in the past. These skilled technical workers are also earning higher incomes.
For those concerned about jobs, the above analysis does not include the delivery industry - the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, etc. all of which are growing and expanding.
The huge decreases in the price of printing, due to technology, has resulted in near exponential growth in the demand for specialty printing all of which result in the production of physical end products (business cards, stationary, advertising flyers, calendars, coffee mugs, photos, etc.) that have to be shipped from the producer’s location to the buyer’s location.
Thanks to Skilled People in the Background Even a Chihuahua can Produce Christmas Cards
This is why education is so important as running this complex process requires highly skilled individuals.
Thanks to the skill and ingenuity of our talented workforce, actually using the process is so simple that even a Chihuahua can produce the family Christmas cards.
© 2010 Chuck Nugent
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