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Print Your Own Christmas Cards

Fed up with paying exorbitant amounts for packs of six Christmas cards too late to catch the second class post? Want the opportunity to customise the message and picture to something your friends haven't already had from three other people?

If you have an inkjet printer which can take card and has a straight-through paper path, you're most of the way there. You'll need to get hold of appropriate card, but with the rise of craft supermarkets and online craft stores, that's rarely a problem. Most blank cards come with envelopes included in the price. Printers that turn each sheet through 180 degrees while printing - some Canon and most HP machines - may need special card to avoid curling, but can usually be used, too.

As well as the card, you'll need some design software and this can be a specialist card design program or any DTP software, starting from PagePlus and Publisher and rising to InDesign. Most current DTP programs have templates for standard card sizes and it may just be a question of cutting and pasting content.

You'll need to cost out the production. As we've said so often in our printer reviews, the hidden cost of owning a printer is the consumables. Printer makers aim to make money back on their machines throughout their service lives, by selling inks and toners. Printing your own cards will personalise them and give you complete control of what goes on them, but it may not work out cheaper than buying ready-mades.

An inkjet printer is easier to use for producing a Christmas card than a laser, unless you have a colour laser. It's possible to produce a card using only black, but to keep it light and bright, it needs to be carefully designed and probably printed on coloured card. It's much easier to use colour in a card design.

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