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How to make your own Christmas cards

Thanks to technology and the internet, we no longer have to put up with buying expensive, impersonal Christmas cards for friends and family. Those with even an ounce of creativity can easily make their own.

Here’s our guide to some of the best software and online services for creating your own cards this Xmas.

iLife ’11

If you have a Mac, Apple’s latest version of iLife is worth taking a look at. You can design greetings based on your own photos and then have them professionally printed as premium textured cards.

It’s one of the simplest pieces of software you’ll ever find to use. Just select the image you want, choose the layout, drop the picture onto it, add your words and then follow the instructions to send off the design for printing.

If you buy a brand-new Mac, iLife ’11 will come pre-installed. Otherwise you will have to buy the latest version of the software and update your machine.

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Alternatively, if you’d like to simply do it for yourself at home, you can use Apple’s iWork software to create cards that you print and fold yourself. Apple’s Pages is like Microsoft Word and has built-in templates that make it quick and easy.

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Microsoft Word

The chances are you already have a version of Word sitting on your computer. But I bet you’ve only really used it to type letters and for work.

Like with Pages, there are templates to choose from, with others that can be downloaded from Microsoft’s Office website. Or if you don’t mind doing a bit of maths to ensure that the margins are correct for your card size, it’s possible to create interesting designs using clip art and your own photos from scratch.

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One of the simpler online card creation services, this features several designs plus the ability to upload your own photos stored locally on your computer, or to choose an existing image already uploaded into Facebook or Picasa. Touchnote handles all the printing, and you can either send cards directly to the recipient or have them sent to you so you can personally post or hand them out.

Hallmark has been creating quality printed cards for years, and now it has taken its offerings online. As you’d expect, you can upload your own photos, but if the standard poetry inside each card isn’t to your liking, you can write your own instead. /

You’re bound to have seen these websites advertised already. If you want a range of more commercial cards to personalise, including spoof publications and cheap box sets, then these are great places to find them. They each offer far more choice and customisation than going to the local card shop.

HP Photosmart Premium e-AiO wireless printer – £99.99

If you’re going to print your own cards at home, then you’ll want a clever printer to do the job for you – and this is one of the smartest around. Not only can you use it to scan and copy, it has a nifty touchscreen control and pumps out photos on special paper that look clear and colourful. But for the best trick, you can email it documents and pictures and print directly from those messages without even having to be at home. It is also compatible with the new wireless printing AirPrint service for Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

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