Kevin Sussy/Photography Editor

The holiday season is upon us. While our hearts are filled with cheer, our wallets are unfortunately sad and empty. We may want to buy our loved ones personalized gifts, but for some of us this requires money that we don’t have. To give your friends and family a thoughtful present without breaking the bank, create a holiday card with your roommates.
Not only is a card a cute and easy way to show everyone back home that you care, but it’s also a fun activity to ward off end-of-semester stress. To guide you through the process, follow these tips.

Figure out your vision
The vibe of your card has a lot to do with how you feel about the holidays. Whether you’re the type of person who plays holiday music starting in November, or the type of person who refuses to put up decorations until halfway through December, will definitely show in the final product. You might like an over-the-top design, or something more casual.

Also, figure out who this card is going to. Just friends, just family or both. Once you know your audience, it’ll help you decide the kind of photos you want to take. While a photo of your sorority sisters donning letters and Santa Claus hats is family-friendly, wearing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ears with a ball gag as opposed to a red nose is not exactly what your aunt wants to display on her mantle. Depending on your vision, you might want to make two cards — one for friends and one for family.

Pick your card design
If you’re going to do a holiday card, you need to do it right. If you don’t have a graphic design-savvy friend, you’ll want to leave the design of your card to the professionals. Thankfully, CVS allows you to make cards with prices beginning at 75 cents a card and sold in packs of 20. CVS has an online service that allows you to pick a border or design, upload your photo and add text. Once ordered, you can pick them up in the store or have them mailed to you. From Christmas-themed designs to general holiday cards, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy. In addition to having different backgrounds, they also offer a variety of layouts. While some layouts allow for one photo, others allow for more.

Plan your outfits and backdrop
Your home friends might not know your college friends, and their knowledge of them is probably based solely on stories. A picture with personality is the best way to let everyone know all about you and your squad. If one of your friends is fun, goofy and treasures comfort above all, have them wear an elf-themed onesie. However, if another friend’s aesthetic is more State Street casual, let them strut their stuff in the “Jingle Bell Rock” look from “Mean Girls.” You may even want to consider an outfit change or two if your layout allows for multiple photos. But no matter how great your costumes are, every photo needs a good backdrop. Plan to take a your photo in a well-lit and decorated area. A string of lights and festive garland will help tie your photo together.
Remember to have fun, and above all, make sure to capture the love you share with your friends. A fun and silly photo that shows how close you all are is better than a stuffy and emotionless photo.