I’m a bit old fashion and still exchange Christmas cards with many people. I always send a photo card with a short half-page story of what went on the past year with a few small pictures. I like receiving them and don’t have the heart to just toss them when the season is done. I usually pack them up in in a manila envelope thinking that I’ll get nostalgic someday and revisit.
I’ve gone through this ritual for 37 years and have never once gone back and looked at the cards. It occurred to me that I should archive them by scanning. Yes! What an idea! I moved a couple years ago and and only had three years worth of cards, so I figured that was a doable amount to try my idea.
My Scanning Process
I’ve got a Canon Pixma MG5320 All-In-One printer which does a decent job of scanning. I set it to scan a Document which allows you to scan multiple pages into a single PDF file, perfect for this job.
The initial problem I ran into was that cards come in various configurations. I went through my stack of cards and scanned the one-sided photo cards first. You can usually get two cards on each letter-sized page, so I paired them by orientation, that is, two portrait cards or two landscape cards together. I put other cards to the side and stacked them buy type which I’ll describe next.
If the cards had photos on both sides or a hand-written note on the flip side, I scanned those next. Again, I paired by orientation. So the following page would have the flip side of both cards that preceded.
The last cards I scanned were the ones with holiday letters included. I scanned the card first and then the letter.
Scanner Settings and PDF Editing
I did all of the scanning at 300 dpi. This is probably over-kill and I doubt that any of the cards were even printed at this resolution. I also turned on the Descreen option which eliminates the ugly Moiré pattern you get scanning photos. This increases the scanning time three to four times, but the result is worth it. (I learned this after doing a year. Sorry 2014 ;-)
Once the PDF was done, I opened it in Adobe Acrobat. In Acrobat, I rotated individual pages so that everything oriented the same way. I have an old copy of Acrobat that still seems to work, but there are more affordable PDF editing utilities out there if you don’t have it. You just need the ability to rotate and reorder pages.
Trimming Your List
While we are on the subject of Christmas cards, let’s talk about the list. I’ve cut way back on my Christmas card list in recent years. The easiest cut to make is to take off people that don’t send you one. Make a list of the cards you send out and check off the ones that send you one. The next season, scan through the people that didn’t send you one. Evaluate if you really need to send them one.
For me, the reciprocate test cut a huge chunk of people off my list. Now, with a much truncated list you can take another look at cutting other folks. In this day and age of Facebook, you may just not need to send out as many cards. I suspect that this tradition will soon be lost to the digital age.
Well, I hope I’ve given you some useful information. I’m happy about finding a good place to store old Christmas cards without needlessly taking up space.