Bob and Cortney Novogratz are a design duo—and parents to seven children—who recently bought a 1920s-era castle in the Hollywood Hills. Check back regularly on PEOPLE.com as they blog about the rewards, risks, messes, and successes of the project, giving their expert tips and tricks for home renovation. You can follow them on Twitter at @TheNovogratz or on Facebook.
Snail mail may be going extinct, but the holiday card isn’t going anywhere. Sure, we live in a digital era, but there’s still so much joy involved in opening a mailbox and finding the season’s greetings.
We’ve been putting out a holiday card each year for the past 19 years, and it’s become one of our favorite holiday traditions. Robert and I love design so much, and creating a holiday card is just an extension of that. Each card is so different — we like to treat each year’s card as an opportunity to say something meaningful. Plus, as everyone knows, it’s a great excuse for capturing what the family looks like that year, whatever family means to you.
Here are a few of our tips for creating the perfect holiday card:
1. Think about what you want your holiday card to be throughout the year, so you’re not panicked at the end of the year.
2. If you have kids, get them involved — they have great ideas. If you make it fun for them and respect their opinions, they’re going to want to be there.
3. If you don’t have kids, no worries. Make it a collage of your favorite moments of the year, whether with roommates, a pet, or a significant other.
4. Make the theme of the card about something that happened that year, like a big move. Or make a stance on something even more important- what’s happening in the world around us.
5. The card doesn’t have to be expensive or perfect. Our first holiday card was taken in a photo booth.
6. Use your kids’ art if you don’t feel like taking a photo. It’s a great way of showcasing it, and it’ll make everyone smile.
7. Mix it up. Some years the card can be serious, and some years can be funny, because that’s how life is.
8. Embrace last minute changes. If you’re trying to coordinate colors in outfits and your kids won’t have it, change your outfits to work with theirs. You’ll get a better smile from everyone, and it’s always more fun to see everyone’s personalities.
Here are a few of our favorite cards from the years.
This one’s really fun… As our kids have gotten older, they’ve come up with some of the ideas, and this was one of them.
We were fortunate enough to have Santa stop by that day, so naturally we included him in the card.
This card was taken after 9/11. Our friend was a makeup artist and had body paint, and we couldn’t think of a better way to say we’re proud to be Americans than through an American flag holiday card.
Having three young babies (a son with twin siblings only 15 months younger) seemed chaotic, but this moment was so special because we recognized our family was only going to get bigger and bigger.
Naturally, some years will be better than others, whether it’s because you’re busy, tight on finances, or for some other reason. Being designers, the holiday card is a way for us to express ourselves, so look at this as a way to be creative. What’s important is being in the spirit and getting the card in the mail no matter what.