Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WWLW & WWDLW: October

Y'all, it is almost OCTOBER. I know this isn't a news flash to any of you...but man, I have a LOVE and a DON'T LOVE relationship with this month...and here's why! (And this is Merry Momma Cindy.)

DON'T LOVE - Pumpkin Spice Latte. I can't even stand the smell of pumpkin spice. At. All. And who wants to drink a pumpkin? NOT ME. YUCK! {Yes, I realize I may loose my middle class, middle age mom card on this one, but I. Just. Can't. Even.}

LOVE - Pumpkins and kids in pumpkin patches! You have to will yourself to be sad around pumpkins and kids in a pumpkin patch. They remind me of small town America. With fall festivals and pumpkin bowling and candy and fun. I love pumpkins!

LOVE FOOTBALL! Who doesn't love college football...and man, THOSE AGGIES!

Myles Garrett <3

DON'T LOVE WORKING ON FOOTBALL SATURDAY - I have a great job and it super fun, but it does require me to work some Saturdays...and well:

LOVE CELEBRATING THIS GAL! Millie's birthday is mid October and we have had such fun celebrating her over the past 4 years.

DON'T LOVE that we have no more babies! While I love love love the stage we are currently in, I did tear up LOTS this evening as Millicent walked out of the playroom holding a pad of paper and dressed in a bakers outfit asking me what I wanted to eat and then wrote real letters on the pad. No more babies here!

LOVE - Planning. I don't think it is a secret that I love to plan...everything! For goodness sakes, we did a post on how we organize our Christmas Shopping.

DON'T LOVE - PLANNING COUNTDOWN THINGS. I don't love those things at all...they make me nervous and anxious. I'm not sure why...but they do...but HEY, THEY ARE A GOOD REMINDER TO GET YOUR CHRISTMAS CARD READY! (And we can't wait for your submissions!)

Happy October y'all!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Y'all. This post is going to be a little different than our norm...because I NEED YOUR HELP!

Seriously, I need opinions, suggestions, links, lots of stuff. And I know that you all LOVE to give opinions! ;)

Please help a Merry Momma out.

Okay, so here's the deal...the Munson fam has our Christmas card photo shoot in two short weeks.

AND I HAVEN'T finalized our clothing!


I know, I know...I am basically not following my own advice, but...hey, you get a sneak peak at our 2015 card!

I'm not going to give away the entire card, but we are going with a VERY outdoorsy feel.

Think plaids, hiking, nature, 

Months ago I bought the outfits below:

I sent the pictures to our photographer and included the text, "I'm just not feeling all!" I couldn't put my finger on it, but it wasn't what I had in mind. I liked the pink and the hubby - Josh - has NO problems wearing pink (he has 3 daughters and coaches xc and track to about 80 young ladies - he's got the pink thing down), but it just wasn't right. Photographer agreed. I think I was "trying too hard" or something. I put the dress and shirt in the closet for future wear (just not our family photo shoot).

And then about 4 weeks ago I found this dress at Target. I love it! Navy, red and forest green PLAID (so outdoors and in style), in a cute DRESS. I was sold. It was only available in toddler size, so I snatched that $14.99 dress up in a 4T and declared it to be my starting point for our pictures. The boots are from Target as well, and yes, they do have a bit of gold sheen to them. I haven't decided if I want Millicent (youngest Munson gal - will be age 3 years and 360 days at the time of pics) to wear tights or not, which leads us to Q1:

Question 1 - What, if anything, should Millicent wear on her legs?

Here's a close up of the plaid:

Josh's outfit is almost complete as well. He is wearing a navy Columbia shirt, jeans and his hiking boots. He has a thermal/waffle grey undershirt, but I wonder if it will not blend well with the brown/cream in the plaid, so Q2:

Question 2 - Should I get Josh a cream undershirt?

And now we are to the TOUGH questions...


I am pretty certain I want to wear this oversized boyfriend type cream cardi from Forever 21. It is pretty cute on, it makes you feel kind of like you are wearing a blanket.

I can't decide what to wear with it...I think some cute jeggings would be good, but I could pull in the red color with the red pants. But the red pants are pants and do people wear pants outdoors? No, not really, they wear jeans. So if I wear the jeans, do I pull in red, navy or forest green. (I wore an army green vest/jacket in last years pic, so I am a tad hesitant to wear any green this year.)

Here's some things I pulled from my shirt and jeggings, denim shirt and red pants, navy shirt and jeggings.

Questions...I have lots of them!

Question 3 - What should I wear on the bottom?

Question 4 - What shirt do I wear?

Question 5 - I put those cute booties out for the pics, but I am not 100% sure that's the look I want. What shoes? (And know that I don't mind buying new things, BUT I do have to keep my spending in our budget. {womp womp to being an adult! #adultingishard #andnotalwaysfun})

Next up -- Caroline! She's 7 and truly is our most outdoorsy sporty girl. I have decided she is wearing jeans and some sort of green on top. 

Sleeveless, thermal/waffle, fringe sweater thing...oh the thoughts running through my head? The sleeveless is cute, but if we all have on long sleeves, do it look silly? The thermal is cute and so "in the theme", but it doesn't have layers or texture or anything that pops out at you. I like the fringe, but will need a tighter fitting undershirt. And the green is a slightly bringhter/lighter shade of green. How could I layer options 1 and 2. I think I like the idea of her having on lighter colored jeans, but...will they be too light and would dark look better, especially with the fringe shirt. {Aren't you glad you aren't in my head? And aren't you glad you aren't Katy or our photographer and you don't have to see the 2,784,921 texts about all this stuff! ;)}

Question 6 - What should Caroline wear?

Last but not least, our darling Annaliese.

I wanted Annaliese to pull in the red color, so I came up with these options.

I really like the denim jacket and the dress, but...(you knew that was coming, right?!?!) Annaliese wore a dress in last year's pic and I do denim A LOT. I like it, but don't know that it should be in every picture we take. Option 2 is the front runner for me. The vest is fuzzy and adds lots of texture to a pic. Option 3 is not really in the running, but I had the shirt so I threw it in there. Maybe one of you can convince me to use it. Option 4 is okay, but again with the sleeveless.

Question 7 - What should Annaliese wear?

Additionally, I have these 2 cardis and this dress available. The girls could also wear cowboy boots, all three have a pair. #werefromtexasyall

And, we haven't even started talking about HAIR FLAIR! Any ideas on that?!?!

Question 8 - Hair? How? What flair, if any?

I can't wait to hear from all of you! Comment below!

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Favorites: JJD Returns

We are so happy that Becca is back to share some of her favorite card designs! If you see something you like make sure to check out her webpage to start designing your card for this season!

Hi there, this is Becca from Jumping Jax Designs! Today I want to share with you some of my very favorite holiday card designs, and what makes them really stand out to me!

Aside from the fact that these faces are some of my favorite kiddos and families (seriously, how blessed am I to make cards for my gorgeous friends + their families?!), these cards are my very favorites. And here's why:

This one is a favorite because of the way the colors of the card tie in perfectly with the colors of their outfits. The earthy tones go so well with the woodsy picture setting. This is the beauty of having a custom card designed; it is made JUST for you, and for your beautiful family photo!

I do realize that this gorgeous family totally makes this card, but I also love love love me some black, white and gold. (So much so that I'm going to have an office in those colors very soon!) The simplistic design allows the colors of the photo to pop and gives it a modern feel, while still bringing cheer!

Is anyone else head-over-heels in love with farmhouse style lately? This card reminds me of shiplap. I just love the natural accents, and the fact that it is very muted colors allows the photo to stay the focus, so that is what the eye is drawn to!

This one is just too cute because of the picture. Kids in Christmas jammies is swoon-worthy enough, but then make it MATCHING Christmas jammies? In vibrant colors? Yes please. I matched the card to the jammies (again, perks of having a card customized for you!) so it just feels very cohesive and happy.

Truthfully, I really love all of the Christmas cards that leave my hands, so choosing favorites was tricky! Be sure to read all of the Merry Momma's posts here so that you too can absolutely love your card design!

Linking up with AndreaErika, and Narci

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Monday, September 21, 2015

A Year in Review

Happy Monday y'all! We've gotten so many requests about a year in review card so we are thrilled to be sharing today's card with you! We actually did some InstaStalking and discovered Kristin's card with #ChristmasCardCarousel and asked if she would be willing to share! She sent it to us THAT SAME DAY. Kristin - we heart you. And we know our readers will too...

WhoJosh, Kristin, Ella (9) and Sophie (5) Fields

Locationa tiny town just outside of Birmingham, AL

PropsThe only prop we used this year was LOCATION!

ClothesNot sure this one is applicable, given the nature of our card!

WE LOVE THIS CARD! For so many reasons but mostly because they celebrated the EVERY day. Not just one - which some of you may think totally contradicts our normal blog posts, but y'all - how awesome is this card??!!  

CommentsWhen we took photographs for last year's cards on our family vacation, I immediately fell in love with them, BUT I couldn't get over the fear that we were missing something. We had done so many fun things in 2014 and traveled to some equally fun places and I was having a really hard time not sharing them all! At the last minute, I scrapped my standard photo card in favor of something a little quirky. We added a photo from every month, along with some fun (and funny) facts about our year - infographic style!

We are so glad you did! This card is adorable and really shares your entire year with us! A perfect way for everyone to keep up with what you and your family have been up to! Here are some other fun examples we found on the interwebs...

Designer: I designed these cards myself! I'm a freelance graphic designer and holiday cards are one my favorite ways to collaborate with clients. Check out her recent work here

Photographer Our "official holiday photo" (in December's square) was taken by Kamin Williams of Spark & Arrow

Favorite Thing: Definitely the infographic. While we shared some pretty tame facts on the back (like travel destinations and the ages of our girls), I really loved the tongue-in-cheek moments (like how many cats we managed to kill) even more!

We are impressed with how much your DP consumption went down. Here are some other funny ideas to include on your infographic this year. We can relate to the loss of binkies, number of diapers changed but we aren't quite sure how someone only consumed 15 pizzas in a year! :)

1 /2/3

(And spoiler alert: One of the Merry Mommas may actually trade in a letter for an infographic.) (Extra spoiler alert: Who are we kidding - we will do both!)

Blog: Taz and Belly

Extras: Kristin is talking all about her Christmas in September today so be sure to check out her post. She is also debuted a BEAUTIFUL and amazing new concept and design of combining bible journaling with Christmas cards and the results are breath taking. In her words:

These Mixed-Media Holiday Cards incorporate a painterly, hand-lettered Bible page on the front and can include your choice of photograph(s) and text on the back OR can be printed as postcards with space for a hand-written note. 

I can't really do them justice, so make sure to check out her post about it here so you can see an example. 

And because we know you'll adore her as much as we do, here's all the ways you can follow along with Kristin and Taz + Belly: 

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Card Designers: Friday Favorites

Nichole here. Today we're talking about trends. Honestly, the card should reflect you and your family. I hesitate to steer you in a direction. Pick something you love. There are no right or wrong are my favorite trends this season!

  •  Love a certain color? Focus on a card with just that color's elements. I love how this family chose a pop of read - makes it easy for a card designer to work that into the design. 
  •  Love clean and simple? Look for the focus to be the picture and keep the font clean and simple. Here's one of my designs that does just that. 
  • Love collages? Mix it up with various sizes and even take it up a notch by mixing up B&W and color photos. Here's a great example from 2013. 

  • Had a stellar year with lots of life events? Add some text next to the pictures or use a multi sided card to show off your events

  • Have friends all over the globe? Send a digital card (which can also be an inexpensive way to have a custom design)
It has truly been a pleasure being with you this week. I hope for those of you on the fence about whether or not to partake in the card business, this has dispelled some myths, or pushed you to one side or the other. Having a card that is made just for you is truly a keepsake. A tiny gift you give to friends, families or colleagues. I keep everyone of the cards I make or get in the mail. A great friend of mine gave me a tip to put my cards on binder rings, and I set them out every Christmas on my coffee table for guests to see. It's so much fun to see how families and friends have changed over the years.  In this day and age, it's still nice to get something in the mail!

And to help you get in the spirit, I am offering a  

$50 credit on 

Christmas or New Year's cards! 

 Just enter by letting me know what your favorite card design is below! Winner revealed on MONDAY!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Designer Showcase: Email Etiquette

Nichole here. Today we are going to be covering the topic of email etiquette. Sounds pretty simple right? The sad truth is, this is something that must be discussed. In this day and age, where everything happens in an instant and we don't like to be kept waiting, this is a very important step in the card design process.  

Y'all, I know you're excited, but most designers do not have a turn around of a few hours. Please set realistic expectations for them - if you need a faster turn around time, then make sure to let the designer know in the initial email. We understand, things happen - you need a last minute card or invite and sometimes you may even be waiting on the photographer to send you pictures. Set the expectation up front. In the last post I discussed questions to ask the designer before you pull the trigger on your card design. The designer should be able to provide a turnaround time. Please remember that these are busy times. We want you to be happy. We want to be happy.

That includes letting us know that you aren't happy with the initial design - let us know. Be clear and communicate with us. We can't read your mind about how much you do or don't love the design, so let us know. We really do want you to be happy - our business depends on you! Let us know because we want to work with you again and again and we want you to to be excited to "share the merry" as the Mommas say!

Yes, should you find yourself past the turnaround date, please ask. Sometimes technology goofs and gets that email lost in space, and sometimes the designer just forgot to press send. YIKES! True Story! Not my finest moment....

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Designer Showcase: Quick Designs

We are thrilled to continue our designer showcase series. This week you will be hearing from Nichole of Quick Design Company. She is local to CS and has outfitted the Merry Mommas with adorable invitations and amazing Christmas cards on more than one occasion. We know you will love her as much as we do! 


Are you frazzled yet? Do you hear the tick tocks getting louder and louder with each passing day, knowing that you haven’t even thought about Christmas card or gasp..the dreaded Christmas picture?? You’re just getting into the groove as school begins, much less have time to figure out something that is months away. Don’t worry. I’m right there with you! Just when I get myself settled, I have already received the first “ask” of the Christmas card season.  My name is Nichole and I am the procrastinator  ahem, Owner, of Quick Design Company. What started out as a means to satisfying a need to have a unique Christmas card, has resulted in a company that has been with families over the years celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, births, holidays… you name it, we’ve been there! I’ve been entrusted with some pretty cool milestones and I’m pretty blessed with this little side business for me and my girls.

Back to why I am here….The Merry Mommas have asked me to guest post this week about a few things from a Designer’s perspective. Today we will talk about the initial meetings with a Designer. Now, I know if you are like me, you have every intention of starting early and taking time to get the look that’s in your head, but who are we kidding…life just gets in the way. Some of you may go the BIG NAME CARD COMPANY for time’s sake, and I want you to know that that is ok. Just the sheer fact that you get cards out is awesome and I will tell you mean just as much to me when I get them in the mail. As a working mom, I get it!

Should you find time is on your hands and you have pictures ready to go, this is where I come in. Designing a card is simple business. After all you made it through Christmas pictures! It is not scary and should be a pretty pleasant experience. (I have had some doozies!!)

So you’ve contacted your designer and they are available to make your card. Here are my tips when I'm working with clients...

  1. Have an iota of what you want... it’s multiple pictures, a single picture, folded, flat, a theme, color, shape, whatever.  
  2. Take the time to look at layouts or fonts. Many of my clients have a card they reference, and that helps me see the direction they want to go.  
  3. Be prepared. The hardest clients to design for are those who give creative freedom. Usually I ask a series of questions so that my work is not done in vain. I am all about being efficient with my time. It makes for a much happier designer!  Over the years I have learned to read between the lines. Designers are here to pull that card you have in your head and put it on paper. Think of us as a Christmas Card Savants!!
  4. Have your pictures ready. Memory stick or email is great. Try not to send links of 100s of your Christmas pics. While I LOVE the privilege of seeing the pics before the world does, it makes it difficult on my computer to have soo much memory taken up. 
  5. Try not to send pictures taken from a phone. It makes for a challenge to have a beautiful card and a really fuzzy, grainy pic. I try my best, but sometimes it just ain’t gonna cut it. Not even the wonders of Photoshop can fix those. If you are gonna spend the money to have a great card, have a great picture to go with it. Ok. Off the soapbox.
  6. Ask questions. There are no stupid questions. Ask questions! The more informed you are, the much more pleasant the experience will be for the both of you. The designer should give you an estimate of proof turn around (remember, as we get closer to the holidays, those numbers will increase) 
  7. Things to think about: designers should be able to offer advice based on pictures as to paper choices, sizing differences, layouts, etc.. 

Once you feel ok with the process, I take over. Take a deep breath, relax (as best as you can) and know that you are getting a very special card, hopefully one that reflects you and your family. Now that the designer has everything they need, they can begin on your very special creation…now to be patient and wait…..

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Designer Showcase - JJD: Part 2

Wasn't Becca's advice great in her first post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts from a designer's perspective. Here's some more great advice!


Becca here again, from Jumping Jax Designs! Today I'd like to talk about layouts, text and colors for your Christmas card!

The perfect card will put the focus on your photos while still bringing some holiday cheer to the recipient. The layout and colors will dictate the mood of the card, so you'll want to get it just right!

1.) Pick a color scheme
This sounds common sense, but what many people don't think about is that the colors of your outfits in the photos can easily clash with the colors in the card you choose. 

For example, you wouldn't want to go with a pink-related color scheme and then have a red Christmas card, or you risk looking like you're celebrating Valentine's Day.

Too many colors between the outfits and the card can be overwhelming and detract from the photos.

Try opting for neutrals in your outfit choices with one main color pop for accents and accessories, and then carry that color through in the card design.
And remember, if you've fallen in love with a certain card design before you take family photos, base your outfits around the card colors and keep the eye drawn to the people rather than the outfits and the card design.

2.) Arrange photos with one being the focus
As we discussed in the last post, having a single photo on the front of the card can make a big impact and provide a simple and streamlined look for your card. However, even if you do put more than one photo on the front, try making one photo the focus by choosing a card design with one photo larger or centered on the card:

3.) Don't overcrowd the card with text
Along with a single photo on the front, part of having a standout card is having meaningful text. Limiting your text can make the words you do have make more of an impact. Keep long sentences and phrases on the back of the card or on your holiday letter, rather than on the front of the card.

And like the color choice and photo layout, having succinct text will also keep people's eye drawn to what matters most; your beautiful photo(s).

 Join us next time as I discuss some of my favorite holiday cards and why I love them!

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Designer Showcase - Jumping Jax Designs

Hi friends...we have a TREAT for you over the next couple of weeks! Our two favorite card designers - Jumping Jax Designs and Quick Designs - are guest posting. They are sharing their thoughts on colors, fonts, layout and much more. Enjoy lots of great insight from Becca this week!

Hi mommas! My name is Becca and I'm the founder of a little business called Jumping Jax Designs, where one of our favorite things to create guessed it: Christmas cards!

Cards are truly where my heart is, since that is the item that started this business up just over 6 years ago! I love making logos and websites and even invitations and birth announcements, but putting on some Christmas music and whipping up some Christmas card designs is really just my favorite.

The Merry Mommas asked me to come guest post and of course I agreed, this little corner of the web is so much fun! So, today we'll be talking about setting realistic expectations for your card design; what you should know about your card design?

There are a few things to know before you get started:

1.) How many photos do you (REALLY) want to use? 

I get clients all the time who send me a gorgeously simple card design that uses one photo, and they want me to recreate it using six of their favorites from their family photo session. While the designer in me is asking you (begging you) to PICK ONE PHOTO, as a momma I know that that's not always easy to do, especially if your photographer rocks your socks off with some amazing shots of each family member.

To keep your card simple, try choosing a favorite photo of your family for the front of the card. Make sure it is one that shows every family member clearly! If you'd really like to use some of your other favorites from the shoot, ask your designer if she can place them on the back of the card for you. While you'll pay more for a double sided design, this will allow you to share other photos with your loved ones and still keep the minimalistic feel that you fell in love with.

2.) You get what you pay for
Sure, your sister's roommate has Photoshop and can whip you up a quick card to print on Vistaprint, but the saying is true; you get what you pay for. If you're not willing to pay a designer to create and print your cards, chances are that the result will not be a polished and beautiful card. Sorry, but that's the truth! Designers have at their disposal thousands of gorgeous fonts and graphics that will make your card come together nicely, and some can even hand-letter sayings that will make your card truly one-of-a-kind! Not to mention that the paper and cut quality will be much better if you have a custom designer do the cards for you!

And likewise, if you opt to throw your family photos into the pre-made card designs at Walmart or Walgreens, you will probably not wind up with the most beautiful or custom final product. When you have a designer customize a card for you, she can pull colors from the outfits to use in the card so that it all ties together nicely, and can make your text stand out from the photo, which a machine cannot/will not do.

3.) Extras add up!
It's a good idea to go into the process knowing what items will cost you extra. Here are some specifics that may look pretty but will certainly raise your total cost:
  • Double sided cards
  • Cards with rounded corners
  • Cards cut into fancy shapes (die cut)
  • Cards that fold or make an accordion shape
  • Cards with actual glitter or gold foil
While yes, all of these features are beautiful and unique, realistically, most of these Christmas cards are likely going to make their way into the trash can before the end of January, so I find it is better to pick the items that matter most to you and cut corners (pun intended) to save a few bucks wherever you can.

I do recommend getting a double sided card if you have lots of photos to share! You could even ask your designer to add some annual updates to the back of the card, and knock out the "family letter" and Christmas card design in one fell swoop!

Rounded corners are also a great way to get the die cut look without actually paying for a die cut, which could cost you around $2 per card. If you send out many cards, that can really add up! Folded cards and glitter or foil will also add to your total, so ask your designer if they can make a card look like it has glitter or foil, without actually paying out the nose to print that way: 

That is what you need to know up front, and check back for our next post where we'll discuss layouts and colors!

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