Dogwood Hill Spreads Cheer Through Collaboration

Dixie Design Collective holiday cards
Photos by Mandy Busby.
Dixie Design Collective designers Jennifer Hunt and Holly Hollon
Designer Holly Hollon (left) and Dogwood Hill founder Jennifer Hunt.

One Christmas, Jennifer Hunt got started on her holiday cards a bit late. Sadly, the custom hand-lettered design she had envisioned was no longer possible, and when she took to the Internet in hopes of finding an alternative, her search turned up dry. That’s when the idea for the Dogwood Hill came to her. She would collaborate with other artists to create a website offering a variety of easy-to-order handmade cards.

Now Jennifer and the other designers working with Dogwood Hill have created a supply of cards that can be customized and shipped to customers within 14 days. Each artist employs her own style, creating one-of-a-kind products that are still accessible—even for the busy mom who might fall a little behind on ordering her cards.

We previously featured collective artist, Holly Hollon. As she prepares her artwork for the holiday season, she says that being a part of the collective allows her to create a ready-made product that spreads some extra cheer. “I work with a limited number of clients each year, so having a line of Dogwood Hill cards lets me provide a ‘Holly Hollon’ card to a lot more people,” she explains.

Here are Holly’s tips for keeping your holiday cards organized:

In our digital world, what’s the value of still sending a paper card in the mail?

Because digital media constantly surrounds us, paper mail makes a much bigger impact. Many people use Christmas cards to share updates from the year or to send a special message of love and cheer. Those sentiments are much more meaningful when sent through paper mail, because it takes added time and effort. I know we can keep up with everyone through social media these days, but it is special to our friends and family when we show them they are special to us by sending them a card.

Do you have any tips for keeping track of your mailing list from year to year, or for building one, if you’re sending out cards for the first time?

When I sent our first Christmas cards after we were married, I based my list on my wedding invitations list and have updated it every year since. If I know during the year that someone has moved, then I try to update it right away. That way, when it’s time to send cards out, I have an updated list and am not scrambling, trying to get everyone’s updated addresses.

If you are making a list for the first time, you could use a service like INYA (I Need Your Address) or Google Forms to easily collect addresses. If you’re writing addresses by hand, I recommend using a Word doc or something similar and centering the addresses, using 14-point font. That not only makes them easy to see but also lets me know how they will look centered on the envelope.

Dixie Design Collective creations
Some of the cards and tags created by Dogwood Hill artist Sarah Robins Powell.

When do you recommend people begin planning their holiday cards?

It is great to start thinking about your cards in October and develop a plan for the season. You will need to consider what Dogwood Hill card design you want to use, whether you will have a photograph taken, and begin to work on your address list. Getting pictures done early is great, but a lot of families have a hard time getting everyone before Thanksgiving. If you are waiting till later in the season, I would recommend selecting a card you really like and showing your photographer the card so they can shoot with the layout in mind. If you are taking your own photo, Stacy Richardson has some great tips for creating a great photo:

  • Lay out all your clothing together to see if any one piece stands out more than the others, and make sure the colors are in the same family without completely matching.
  • Pay attention to your background. Subtle but interesting backgrounds work well. Be sure to position the subjects so that they aren’t standing directly on the background. Make sure no sticks or structures are sticking out of anyone’s head.

And when should they generally have them in the mail?

I think anytime between Thanksgiving and a week before Christmas is fine. So many people stress about wanting their cards out the day after Thanksgiving. For a recipient, it is so much more fun to get them throughout the season—so no need to stress!

Dixie Design Collective cards and tags.
Elegant cards, including this couple’s monogram, from designer Vaughan Spanjer.

What about New Year’s cards? Is that a growing trend, and when would that be a useful alternative?

Yes, this is a growing trend, and I love it! At Dogwood Hill we offer a fun selection of New Year’s cards. I think that if you are really busy during the holidays and cannot find time to get your card together by Christmas, this is a great way to handle it. It could also be a fun way for a couple to send a save-the-date or announce an engagement.

Do you have any tips for addressing envelopes? For instance, when you’re sending a card to a couple whose last names are different?

With Christmas cards, you don’t have to be formal in the way you would with a wedding invite. Using “called by” names are great, such as “Bill and Mandy Thomas” rather than “Mr. & Mrs. William Thomas.” I do suggest spelling out everything — including the street name and state — because it looks best on the envelope.

If a married couple have different last names, then you would do both their names connected with “and.” If the couple is unmarried, then you leave out the “and” and stack their names on the envelopes.

My go-to for stationery etiquette is Crane & Co.’s Blue Book of Stationery. They also have helpful pointers on their blog.

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