holiday cards: costco and tiny prints

original image, ©Sarah Waggoner Photography

before you get your hopes up, this is a comparison, not a competition. There won’t be any mud slinging, and the winner will be completely defined by the preferences of each reader (that’s you!).

I have 80 people on my Christmas card list, and a budget for maybe $1 a card, give or take. Considering this may be the only “gift” I send some families (most of the families), I think $1 is pretty justified. Unfortunately, I have closer to $3-$4 a card taste in holiday stationery, so I had to find a compromise. Lucky for me, I had a $20 off and free shipping coupon to Tiny Prints, and Costco might as well run through my veins.

OK, getting to the point: I got sticker shock when I saw how much 80 cards would cost from Tiny Prints, so I split my list into those I see on a regular basis and those I don’t, with one getting the more expensive cards and the others the less expensive. I also recently found out Costco offers premium cards, so I was excited to try them out and see which product I prefer for the future. *since I don’t have a quality image scanner, all images edited to look most closely to the cards themselves.

Tiny Prints

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I ordered the Tiny Prints cards first, and was impressed by the selection they had for one image, Christmas specific cards, which I usually opt for. You can also customize card shapes, paper types and envelopes for an additional charge, but I chose all the standard (included) options. This year I went with their “Neon Season White” card because I liked the style, layout and font the best, despite its lacking the word Christmas. There were so many font and color options to choose from for our signature line, it was almost overwhelming. Extra envelopes and return address printing are an additional cost, which I reluctantly decided to pay. At Tiny Prints, the more you order the less you pay per item, but here are my final numbers, per card:

110lb matte card stock (30% post consumer materials)
35 cards/envelopes $2.19 each
5 extra envelopes @$.49 each
return address printing @$.25 each

Subtotal (based on bill) $2.55 each
Total paid after coupons: $1.53

I chose the Costco “Sparkling Holidays” design because it most closely resembled the Tiny Prints cards I’d just ordered, and I liked the idea of maybe adding my own glitter on top of the printed glitter. There weren’t as many one photo styles available, nor color options and fonts for customization, but my choice between two card shapes, return address printing, and two additional envelopes per set of 50 were all included in the price.

120lb matte card stock
50 cards/envelopes $.59 each
2 extra envelopes $0
return address printing $0

Subtotal $.59 each
Total after tax, s&h: $0.73

So how do they compare?

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You’ll have to take my word for it, but I have an 11×14 print from my pro lab of this image, and the Costco print most closely matches the color and saturation of the original printed image. By close, I mean Costco did a really good job. The Tiny Prints card is a little more highly saturated, especially in the reds/oranges, which may appear to come closer to the original digital file’s saturation and luminosity, but remember these are supposed to be matte prints.


The Tiny Prints card had a few options available for the backs, so I went with this deeper red to coordinate with the deeper reds in the photo. Costco has double sided cards available, but this wasn’t one of them, so the only option was stark white.

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The Tiny Prints card is also slightly smaller, as seen above placed over the Costco card, but this made little difference to me.

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You’ll have to forgive me on this image, I don’t have my macro lens right now so this was as close as I could get to comparing widths. We know from the numbers the Costco card is technically thicker, but it actually feels like the Tiny Prints card has more structure to it. Tiny Prints has a little more texture to the card stock, which I like, while Costco’s is fairly smooth and slightly more reflective. Tiny Prints also gets extra points for using 30% PCW in their signature matte paper.

Overall, both great products. I loved the options, paper quality and matte appearance of the Tiny Prints cards, but prefer the color quality and price of Costco. Oh, and that I got the Costco cards two days before Tiny Prints. I did take a look at minted this year also, and while they had the most style options, 120lb 17 point paper and a handy “find it fast” feature that allows you to browse all the cards with your image already applied, the price was also substantially more. So, which would you order?

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