Holiday Cards 2020

Holiday Cards 2020

As I finished up my master’s degree in December of 2019, I made a promise to myself. 2020 was going to be the year of new experiences! My family had just moved to Austin, and between work and finishing up my graduate thesis, exploring our new home was something that felt impossible. Ironically, it seems doing anything in 2020 is impossible. This year has been ridiculously difficult. COVID-19 has essentially flipped the world on its head and left us all in a passive state of constant anxiety. I’d spent the majority of my time working from home this year — feeling positively stir-crazy. Fortunately, it allowed me to get creative in my personal life. When I wasn’t working on home projects, I dreamt up an elaborate holiday photo.

My family moved into a new apartment this summer, and we truly love it. We’re surrounded by lush greenery, nature, and wildlife. It’s beautiful and something I wanted to try and incorporate into our holiday card this year. Because we’re social distancing and trying to slow the spread of the virus, we couldn’t actually go anywhere to take our photo. We had to do the entire shoot from home (or at least within our apartment complex).

One rainy morning in October, the idea for our holiday photo popped into my head. I envisioned an outdoor study with three professors wearing glasses and smoking pipes. It seemed unique while being entirely ridiculous, and that reason alone sold the idea to me. Setting the scene would be laborious in that we’d have to build a backdrop and carry the furniture to our location, but my concerns were quelled remembering it’d all be within walking distance of our front door.

We decided to take the photo on Thanksgiving morning. Everyone would be home from work, and I’d have the weekend to edit the photos and get everything together. The boys and I sat on the floor that morning breaking down cardboard boxes from our Christmas shopping and duct-taping them all together. It looked like we were building a cardboard raft in our living room. We then wrapped it in wrapping paper Austin had brought home from IKEA, and the three of us carried it to a grassy area near our apartment dog park. We carried over the blue armchair in my office and a few plants from our porch and began to set the scene to the tune of barking puppies. It was windy, our backdrop fell several times, and I absolutely stepped in doggie doo. As glamourous as our struggle sounds, the photos came out beautifully. Our matching sweaters and pashmina scarves coordinated perfectly with the backdrop.

Photo setup

After some color correcting and light photo editing, I started to work with the card’s typography and layout. I decided to do a postcard layout this year because we were all feeling a little overwhelmed, and we still needed to print and send the cards out on time to our loved ones. Simplifying the design ended up working in our favor because it allowed the typography on the front to shine, while also making it easier for our relatives to hang our photo on the fridge.

2020 felt like an impossible year, but we made it through it. I’m proud that we were able to spread some holiday joy to our friends and family this year, despite the hardships that come along with the pandemic. Putting these cards together annually means so much to me, and accomplishing it this year in particular, makes things feel just a little more normal.