Not to get too existential, but what is the point of the holiday card in the era of social media? We know what your family’s been up too — we saw it unfurling in real time on Facebook. And you have bajillions of family photos clogging up your phone, so the classic Sears family portrait can feel a little…redundant. Who even has time for a posed photo that’s going straight to an Awkward Family Photos Tumblr anyway?
Why not give the kids some ownership of the affair, Make it a fun creative project that showcases your family’s unique personality, and use it as a tech-teachable moment all at the same time. (Bonus: The kids do your work for you.)
Parents strive to treat their families to amazing experiences. Catapult, in partnership with Intel, is the field guide for the modern mom, offering tech-based at-home activities that will build lasting memories.
This project requires a computer that can handle tons of editing software and comes with lots of storage. The Lenovo Yoga 920 comes with a powerful 8th Gen Intel® Core™ processor so your custom holiday card gets the love it deserves.
Here are six steps to get you and your kids started:
Pick a Theme
A visitor to my house recently looked at my kids’ school photos and said, “Wow, you let them choose the backgrounds, huh?” I do, and the result is slightly ridiculous, but also makes it more fun. They also pick out their own picture day outfits, and guess what? They always look excited and proud in the photos.
Give up control and let the kids pick a wacky theme or an unusual setting or backdrop. Perhaps it’s something simple like everyone wearing the same color. Or maybe it’s something silly, like having everyone dress as a character or pretending to stare at their phones. As long as the theme is something that everyone is into, the work that goes into finding matching outfits or taking snap after snap won’t seem tedious. Get a creative photographer on board or set up your digital camera on a tripod. And remember: Keep it low-key. (Unless the theme is “angry and frustrated family.” Which could work too, really.)
Get Mad Props
Props make photos vibrant and energetic. Maybe you’re all warriors battling over the Christmas presents, or maybe you just want your toddler to have a villainous mustache. We’re not here to judge. There are loads of fun printable props online — the kids can help select them. Then, there is the wonderful relatively new world of letter balloons. I have yet to meet a kid who’s not weirdly, insanely excited by the presence of balloons. And by “kid” I mean “grown up.”
So, you’ve taken your photos. Now what? Photoshop, of course! It’s not just that you want to train little interns to doctor all your family photos from now on and take the task off your plate. It’s good for them to learn these tech skills, which combine math, spatial awareness, and creativity. It will make for a fun family project for a winter weekend day, and good news, it doesn’t involve tons of IRL cleanup. What’s more, it’s a good idea to teach modern kids to be conscious of how their likeness is portrayed and shared online, so think of this as a quick Digital Citizenship 101 class.
First, get inspired by how other families have used Photoshop to make creative holiday cards (Googling “unique Christmas cards provides tons of examples), but remember to manage your — and your kids’ — expectations regarding how advanced you can get. Then, check out a Photoshop tutorial to learn all the basics, from scanning their original artwork to their computer, to plopping in photos, to applying the layers to make it all work.
Manage the Message
A card that reads: “Happy Holidays from the Whoevers” is nice and all, but we’re willing to bet your kids can think of a more original greeting. Have your kid browse through funny messages other families have used in the past, and then let them design them on their computer. Word to the wise. however. As with any “choice” you offer kids, make sure you’re giving them options you’ll be okay with either way. Unless, of course, you want to send a holiday card full of potty jokes. (In which case, more power to you and don’t forget to send us one.)
Modernize Snail Mail
Now that you have your awesome personalized holiday cards, are you going to mail them out with generic Forever stamps? Snooze. Teach the kids the joys of philately (and avoid the questionable experience of going to an actual post office) and let them browse stamps to order online from the USPS. Or help the kids create their own personalized stamps. Using a powerful PC, they can edit family photos to their liking, throw in some favorite sayings, and then add your family name to the design. Then, they can upload the whole file to a site like Zazzle.
Pivot to Video
Forgo that passé print world altogether and create a family video on your computer to share on social media. It’s cute, fun, and so timely. You can keep it simple and have them edit together family videos you’ve already taken throughout the year right on your computer. Have your kids decide what videos to include. Then, they can play around with an editing program such as Premiere to make the finished product. You can just sit back and revel in the extreme cuteness.
To do any of the above, you’ll need a powerful PC that’s equipped to handle everything your kid dreams up. The Lenovo Yoga 920 is the way to go since it comes with a powerful 8th Gen Intel Core processor. You and your family will experience faster photo editing and zero lag time.
Amy Shearn is a novelist, essayist, and editor. She lives in Brooklyn.
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