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Stand Out From the Competition With Handmade Holiday Cards Crafting a handmade card is a sure way to be remembered by your clients all year round.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

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It's that time again. Time to send out the proverbial holiday card to clients, customers and friends. If you're like most people, you'll search for a holiday design through a card catalog and place an order. Or you might pick up a box or two of cards from your local store, sign your name and send them out.

But if you want to be different and set yourself apart, send a handmade card instead.

While a holiday card is always appreciated, many arrive with only a signature or (heaven forbid), a printed name that doesn't say much for a personal touch.

Crafting a handmade card is a great way to stay in touch with your clients. It also offers you the opportunity to show your true personality and creativity.

Most receivers of handmade cards keep them for a very long time (or forever) and often share or post them for others to see. Your thoughtfulness will always be top of mind. Here are some ways to get started.

1. Consult a card designer.

Several craft companies, like Stampin' Up! and Close to My Heart provide a network of demonstrators who sell their stamping supplies in or near your city and can help you with a holiday design. Simply flipping through their online catalog will give you plenty of ideas.

2. Look online for ideas.

Perform an online search for "handmade holiday cards" and you'll be presented with hundreds, if not thousands, of card images from the simple to the sublime to inspire you. Very often, the simplest designs offer the biggest impact, and are easiest to produce en masse. Don't have a creative bone in your body? Purchase handmade cards from people who do. You can find thousands of one-of-a-kind designs on sites like Etsy.

Related: Maximize the Impact of Handwritten Notes With These 6 Tips

3. Visit your local craft store.

Many localities have a local rubber stamping, papercrafting or scrapbooking store. Here you can find ideas for cards as well as purchase all the supplies you need, including stamps, dies, inks and paper. The benefit of the local store is that expert staff is always on hand to help you, and many even provide a crafting area where you can use their equipment to make your cards on site and get assistance as you go.

4. Tailor for the recipient.

Keep in mind the personality and likes of your recipient, and tailor a card that appeals just to them. There's a design for every interest.

One of my clients loves puzzles, so one year I went to the craft store and purchased a 5x7, blank white puzzle. I took some colored markers and wrote a holiday greeting on the puzzle, signed my name, and mailed it in a padded envelope. The card was a big hit and the client still talks about it.

5. Tap into your inner child.

Creating handmade cards brings out the child in you and helps you tap into your artistic side. Motivational speaker and water ski champion Hank Longo uses his artistic talents to draw a caricature Santa on water skis on all his holiday cards. "It takes a little extra effort but everyone looks forward to receiving their personalized card every year," he says. "It also reinforces my personal brand."

Related: How to Write an Unforgettable Thank-You Note

6. Start early.

Making cards takes time, so don't wait until the last minute to begin or you'll end up in a panic -- with lots of supplies and a whole lot of frustration. If you don't get your cards out before the Dec 15, think about sending "Happy New Year" cards instead.

7. Make thank-you notes.

If you find out that you enjoy making handmade cards, extend your talents and your leftover supplies into creating a box full of thank-you notes that can be used throughout the year. After all, sending a handwritten note will never go out of style.

Related: With This Startup, a Handwritten Thank You Note Is a Click Away

During the holiday, and any other time of the year, a handmade card is always appreciated. Get in the habit of sending them and you will leave that lasting impression.

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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