'F' for Freebies Holidays Parenting

The Balch Family Holiday Card, 2011

There’s a giveaway too — Keep reading for details.

It’s that time again. Time to think of a ridiculous premise for our holiday cards! You know how I do a monthly shoot for the kids in the same chair to document their growth? I thought it would be fun to do the same portrait for all of us this year, then compile the photos into a card.

Eleanor is a toddler. If you’ve experienced toddlerhood, you’ll know that’s all that needs to be said.

I put her down for a nap in hopes of a better shot later. I used the time to run out for flowers (Brandon’s idea, and a good one at that). We took the rest of our photos while E slept, but here are a few from the second attempt later in the day. We tried to bribe her with a lollipop. She let it fall out of her mouth and onto her skirt, and was then appalled.

August was happy! A happy but wiggly, rocking, and slightly out of focus baby. It was so dark in the living room, I had to bump the ISO waaaaay up, open the aperture all the way, and hope for the best.

I was the consummate professional, needing only one shot. Or perhaps I’m just saying that so I’ll only have to show you one shot. You’ll never know.

Brandon looks like a standup fellow. So dapper. So mature.

Oh, wait! We have a B-side. A Brandon B-side.

Aw yeah. Brandon’s footie pajamas made a triumphant return. Along with my necklace. And with that, here is this year’s Balch family holiday card.

We’re lookin’ good.


You are no doubt inspired to make your own holiday cards now, right? OK, you may not want to take the route we did. You can still go for the classic family photo, and for that you’ll need a nice camera. And something (or some things) to put that photo on. Well, Shutterfly is offering 50 cards, a 12×12 photo book, an 8×8 photo book, mug, 3 calendars, reusable shopping tote, and an ornament, along with a PowerShot S100 Camera.

Visit Shutterfly to select your favorite photo card template, and leave a comment here about which one you like best to enter. A winner will be randomly selected.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years or older. Ends 12/6/11. To enter and for Official Rules, including odds and prize descriptions, visit Girl’s Gone Child, The Spohrs are Multiplying, or Make and Takes. Void where prohibited.

Congratulations to the winner, Diana L!

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Courtney
    November 15, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    I love your card! That is so creative and smart! I completely relate to portrait taking issues. I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter, Ella, who is so similar to Eleanor and we just added another sweetheart, a baby girl named Averie, to our family just 3 weeks ago! I am dreading taking those photos and may have to borrow your unique idea!

    I love Shutterfly! I just made a 2nd year photo book for my daughter which was awesome! I love their holiday cards and I think my favorites are the ones with the top 10 moments and happenings of 2011 cards. It is so nice to include some fun info, especially to those you don’t see very often during the year!

  • lilcg
    November 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    love your card (my daughter is two and a half so I know that look all too well)! and I think my favorite card is the bring it on holiday cheer

  • Regan Wood
    November 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I love the Merry Bright zig zag!

  • Christine
    November 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Enjoyed seeing your holiday card photoshoot! I like the “Holiday Love Sketch” card.

  • Patrice Robinson
    November 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I love the vintage designs like Jolly Good Time!

  • Viktoriya
    November 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Hello, It would be truly a blessing to send out Christmas cards to family, as we cannot affords gifts this year. The “HOLIDAY LOVE SKETCH” is beautiful. Thank you…

  • Robin (noteverstill)
    November 15, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I love the SHINE BRIGHTLY Hanukkah card. Thanks!

  • Nissa
    November 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    So many great designs, but one of my favorites is the “Mod Love” Christmas card.

  • Catherine
    November 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I love the Merry Doodle Dandy cards!

  • Lisa Berndsen
    November 15, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I’m so in love with the Pretty Pattern Christmas card. The background is so beautiful and sort of non-traditional Christmas looking. Just perfect and pretty!

  • Quiana
    November 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I like the festive year card!

  • Lori
    November 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I like the Polka Dot greeting

  • Elisabeth M.
    November 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    I really like the ‘Shine Brightly’ card- understated, but lovely- especially for Hanukkah!

  • Elif
    November 15, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Simply Jolly is pretty. Simple and fun.

  • Kim L.
    November 15, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I love the ‘What Fun’ card. So cute!

  • Emily Anne
    November 15, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Merry Bright

  • Selidji Laleye
    November 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Love the modern merry montage Christmas card!!!

  • Amber H
    November 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I love bright merry cheer!

  • Caren Drink
    November 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Modern merry montage is my pick!

  • Katie
    November 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    What a fun family card, I love that it’s not one with everybody wearing coordinating clothes and happy faces :)
    I like Merry Bright ZigZag, Chevrons rock!

  • Georgina
    November 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    Snow Snow Snow Holiday Card

    Thank you!

  • brandi
    November 15, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    I love the Message In Lights card! We just had a baby and I can’t wait to send out cards with her sweet face on them.

  • Cassie Bates
    November 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    My favorite is the Wintry wonderland.

  • Emily
    November 15, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Awww your Christmas card is so cute! I like the polka dot wishes templet

  • dawn
    November 16, 2011 at 12:52 am

    i love “Shiny Sparkly Ornament.” i also love that you can get it in black or white.

  • RD
    November 16, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Ooo, I like the Shades of Peace. So pretty. A great giveaway!

  • Jessie Kruse
    November 16, 2011 at 1:18 am

    Love your card! I like Polka Dot Christmas Wishes.

  • Gina
    November 16, 2011 at 3:21 am

    Berry Merry Frame. So sweet and simple. thanks!

  • Laura
    November 16, 2011 at 6:26 am

    Brandon’s picture is the best! That made my day. I’m so glad you included that in your holiday card!

  • Holly D
    November 16, 2011 at 6:37 am

    I love your card.

    I like Believe and Rejoice.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Mia Charro
    November 16, 2011 at 6:37 am

    This card is sooo sweet! Your family is beautiful :)

  • Tatiana
    November 16, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Your so creative!Love your card!

    I like the “All the Happiness Christmas Card”.

  • lindsay
    November 16, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Love ‘deck your walls’ template!

  • LeGwen
    November 16, 2011 at 7:29 am

    I like the plain ole “Black Border”.

  • Jill
    November 16, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Love the card! I like the hand drawn joy to the world card.

  • meghan
    November 16, 2011 at 8:14 am

    i love the retro stripe frame card! so many cute designs.

  • Janna
    November 16, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I love the simplicity of the Sweet Little Label card. Having just had our first child, I think this year would be a good one to finally send out a photo christmas card! And we had family pictures done for the first time. Of course, the little guy cried almost the entire time!

  • christy
    November 16, 2011 at 8:32 am

    I like the Such Good Tidings card

  • Meredith
    November 16, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Your card is great! I’m sure your family and friends will enjoy it, especially Eleanor’s age appropriate shot.

    I like a lot of the designs, but especially the Picture our Year Card.

  • Misty
    November 16, 2011 at 8:36 am

    My fave one is Bright Holly Jolly!

    And Nicole, I feel ya with the toddler thing. We have an almost 3 yr old and a 3 mo old! It’s like they KNOW!!!!!! Beautiful card though! It turned out cute!

  • Hanna
    November 16, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Wow, awesome giveaway! I like deck your halls, modern pinecones, and joy.

  • Anu
    November 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Merry Candy dots is the one I like!

  • Becky
    November 16, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Do I have to pick just one? I love the folding ones where you can put more pictures inside! Like the Joyful Joyful one.

  • jodi adams
    November 16, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I love the Happiness is template!

  • Dawn S.
    November 16, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I absolutely love your card. My favorite on the Shutterfly site is the charming dotted ribbon Christmas card.

  • Terri
    November 16, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Stylish Joy is my favorite-I think. Hard to choose! Love your card also!

  • Lilia
    November 16, 2011 at 9:27 am

    Berry Merry Frame is my favorite.

  • Emily
    November 16, 2011 at 9:28 am

    I love the Double Dog Dare you card!

  • Karen
    November 16, 2011 at 9:36 am

    “snow confetti” is my favorite!

  • vika
    November 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

    “happiest season” is my favorite!
    Love your card, will you really send this one out?!

  • Emily
    November 16, 2011 at 9:41 am

    I really enjoy your blog. Shutterfly has too many cute Christmas cards. I do like the Pine Cone Toile a lot.

  • Melissa
    November 16, 2011 at 9:44 am

    Love your card. Oh So Wonderful is my favorite.

  • Donna O'Neil
    November 16, 2011 at 9:53 am

    I love the Sparkling Snowflakes.

  • Jennifer
    November 16, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I like the snowflake ribbon card. We always have snowflakes on our christmas card. It’s a fun tradition.

  • Katharine
    November 16, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I like the sparkling snowflakes! You guys are so cute!

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  • Laurie
    November 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

    I like “Snowflake Doodles”

  • ArticulateArt
    November 16, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Hahaha you guys are so creative and hilarious! Great idea!

  • Heather
    November 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    The colorful New Years card is my faves!

    Your card rocks the hiz-ouse.

  • Jessica
    November 16, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Your card and the photos are killer. I am cracking up over here! My favorite template at Shutterfly is the Pictures Everywhere flat card!!

  • Margot
    November 16, 2011 at 11:14 am

    We haven’t done our pictures yet so I’m not 100% sure based on the placement of said pictures, etc., but so far I’m really liking ‘Initially Merry’

  • Liz W.
    November 16, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I adore the Merry Bright card, can’t wait to get our family photos done this year!

  • brooke
    November 16, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Red nosed reindeer

  • Oscar Osorio
    November 16, 2011 at 11:43 am

    The pictures you guys have taken are awesome. My favorite template is the Holly Dotty card.

  • Nolita
    November 16, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Pictures Everywhere Christmas Card is what I’d get …love!

  • Annie Hall
    November 16, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Nicole this card is hilarious and perfect. Plus, the pink color will be so different landing in everyone’s mailboxes.

  • Amber
    November 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    I think your card looks amaaaaazing :)

    I would probably choose: Merry Memories Collage. Enough room to put a family pic in the middle and then other special pics around the edge, including a couple spots for the pets! Perfect!

  • Kara
    November 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Long time reader, rarely ever comment but have to say you are such an inspiration. My faves are- What fun and stiched in joy. Last year we did a Happy New Years card and I have to say it got a good response and took tons of pressure off of the holidaze.

  • Lor
    November 16, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Love the Pictures Everywhere template. So dynamic with all the pics. And the blue and red are my theme colors this year…
    Used an old Groupon at Sears for our family portrait. God help us, what an afternoon that was!

  • Liz
    November 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I love the Fa La La template with word balloons. It’s perfect for my big crazy family!

  • OMG Ponies!
    November 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm


  • whitney
    November 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Oh, it’s a toss up between Bright Holly Jolly Holiday Card or This Much Merry Christmas Card!

  • Christina
    November 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    It is a tie for me- Mod Snow Flakes and the Picture This – I love how the photos look like they are just thrown in a nice array of scatterness – like my family- ha!

  • Jennifer
    November 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I like Strictly Ornamental!

  • Stephen
    November 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    My preference is the Simply Elegant Frames.

  • clara
    November 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Mod Snow Flakes are my favorite. I also have a two-year old. Sigh. It’s tough when not even a lollipop will guarantee compliance.

  • Suganya
    November 16, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    The red nose reindeer is awesome! :)

  • Diana
    November 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I like the Initial Wreath card. Cute idea for a family photo!

  • Bambi
    November 16, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    I like the Family Highlights card in red! I also enjoyed your Holiday card, such a cute idea. :)

  • Sarah
    November 16, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Definitely the Happiest Season. Simple is best!

  • Lisa
    November 16, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Cute pics, but please tell me what happened to your dog? Miss seeing him.

  • mandy
    November 16, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Kaleidoscope is my favorite.

  • Heather
    November 16, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I love the Merry Little Jingle…I love your card and Eleanor’s ‘pose’ is priceless.

  • Linda R.
    November 16, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    I love Colorful Joy or Bright Bold Trees — very cute. So many choices, though…

  • Leslye
    November 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Love your holiday card- (also, I think Motherhood has made you super-skinny!) :)

    I’m loving the Holly Dotty design on Snapfish

  • beth
    November 16, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I love Mod Snowflakes!

  • Erica
    November 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I love Big Cheers, Wishing You Merry and Such Good Tidings. So many fun choices!

  • annie
    November 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I like the modern band card. Hard to choose, though.
    Your card is great!

  • sp
    November 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    clearly the best one is ‘modern forest’ – old forests are a thing of the past, honey.

  • Tara Jane
    November 16, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Such Good Tidings!

  • Mandy E
    November 16, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    I love the Monogram Damask Christmas card!

  • Jarfly Designs
    November 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    I like your tights :)

  • Annie
    November 16, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    I like the simplicity of the Initial Wreath.

  • Stephanie O'Connor
    November 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I love the sketched wishes. Now I’m ready to get the camera out and get those family pictures!

  • Amanda
    November 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I linked back to your site! I love CANON! I have a DSLR and I would love to give the camera to my mom and step dad for christmas!


  • Amanda R.
    November 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Hand drawn joy is my favorite! Love JOY on holiday cards.

  • Kristin | Snip&Scribble
    November 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    My fave is the holiday love sketch… wish I could illustrate like that! :)

  • Eileen Kelly
    November 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Love a the toddler posture! And your acceptance!

  • Becky
    November 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    They have the best cards! I like many of the Noel ones (flourishing Noel, Noel script), I like the We Do Believe, and the Bird and Branches, but the one I kept coming back to….Retro Christmas! I love it! But, with two boys (ages 3 and 1), and I need to find a card that lets me have more than one picture! ;-) Love this post!

  • g. brimberry
    November 16, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I Love the “oh what fun” template. We love doing our cards through shutterfly each year!

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