Ah, holiday card time. Writing out and mailing a gazillion cards is a nice thought, but chances are it'll make your hand cramp and your wallet ache. There are a few ways to make your card-sending endeavor much easier.

Be Budget Savvy
Don't let your good deed wring you dry. Here, a few easy ways to send out your cards on the cheap:

Cut down your list. If you haven't seen or spoken to someone in the last year, forget sending a card. And if you're giving someone an actual gift, you don't need to mail another card

Make your own cards. Pick up bright, festive card stock and envelopes for 10 to 15 cents apiece at a stationary store, and write your message in silver or gold ink. It'll seem more personal and save some cash. Check out AOL Holidays for more ideas on DIY cards.

More tips below our gift guide

$15 and Under Stocking Stuffers


Recycle from Christmases past. If you have old cards lying around, rip off the front (the part that isn't written on) and turn them into postcards. Extra credit for being eco-friendly!

Opt for e-cards. While they're less formal, they won't cost you a thing. Plus, you can pick out something special for each person on your list. We like Blue Mountain for more traditional cards, and someecards for friends with a sense of humor.

Focus on the message. Ultimately, holiday cards are about sharing a sentiment, not expensive stationery. If you're having trouble thinking of a personal message, write what you hope the next year will bring. For example, tell a garden-loving cousin you "hope next year brings many beautiful new blooms."

Click here for more card-sending tips.

Choose Unique Cards
Who needs another card with Santa or a snowman? Try one of these creative options instead.

Pick vintage. EBay has tons of old cards from the '30s, '40s and '50s.Your recipients will get a kick out of seeing something so old-school.

Use a fun photo. Expand on the traditional smiling-and-decked-out-in-holiday-best snapshot. Choose a setting that reflects your personality, wear an unexpected outfit or scan a funny childhood photo. Then, order prints from a photo-sharing site like Shutterfly or a pro card printer like Tiny Prints. Or use a site where you can upload someone's photo for fun holiday purposes -- like creating a gift tag where your guy has a Santa beard, making your pet sing Christmas carols or turning your loved one into an elf.

More ways to make your own. This takes a bit longer, but the results are stunning. One (fairly easy) idea: Buy card stock at your local stationery store, then cut out words from magazines that relate to the holidays or the recipient. Glue them onto the front of the card, and then use Mod Podge to give it a glossy finish.

Be charitable. Tons of charities sell cards around this time of year, with a portion of the proceeds going to people in need. See if your favorite cause offers cards, or check out Cards That Give for a slew of different options.

Go green. Pick a card that helps the earth, and you and the recipient will feel warm and fuzzy on two levels. RedStamp.com has a whole section of cards that won't harm the planet.

Great Gifts $25 and Under

    Cube Cocktail Jigger, $25, MOMA.

    www.momastore.org

    Sushi Shower Curtain and Wastebasket, $18.95, Archie McPhee.

    www.mcphee.com

    Cupcake Stand Kit, $9.99, Wilton.

    www.wilton.com

    Custom Aveda Gift Baskets, from $10.50, Aveda.

    www.aveda.com

    'Sandtastic' Bucket of Candy, $22.50, Dylan's Candy Bar.

    www.dylanscandybar.com

    Combination Cutting Board and Colander, $24, MOMA.

    www.moma.org

    Lego iPod Dock, $25, Urban Outfitters.

    www.urbanoutfitters.com

    Travel French Press Coffeemaker, $5.37, Bodum.

    www.bodumusa.com

    Bacon Band-Aids and Bacon Wallet, $4.95 and $9.95, Archie McPhee.

    www.mcphee.com

    DIY Cardboard Speakers, $18, Urban Outfitters.


    www.urbanoutfittes.com