Printing your own Christmas cards

Printing your own Christmas cardsIt's almost that time of year again. Halloween has come and gone and things are starting to look festive. Starbucks has brought out the red cups, Tesco has selection boxes galore and C-list celebrities around the country are turning on Christmas lights.

Everybody knows that Christmas is an expensive time of year. From discounts for buying in bulk to money-saving coupons, we are all on the lookout for ways to save a few pennies here and there.

According to the Money Advice Service, the average family will spend £582 this Christmas – that's £46 more than last year, despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of households are struggling financially. Well here at INKredible we have come up with a way of saving you some much needed Christmas cash!

It is around this time that people are dusting off their address books and desperately trying to remember the names of their second cousin's kids – it's Christmas card time.

This year, why not do something a little different with your Christmas cards and make them yourself. Woah there, don't worry we're not about to suggest you get out the glitter glue. All you need is your all-in-one printer, photo paper or pre-folded card and a load of coloured ink.
There are several ways you can go about this, mainly depending on how much time and effort you are willing to put in.

Photo Cards

One of the simplest and more personal Christmas cards is a photo card. Find a winter scene or family photo from last Christmas (sat around the Christmas tree, at a carol service, playing in the snow etc). Depending on your printer you can then scan this photo in or simply hit print from your computer. The easiest way to make one of these cards is to choose a landscape photo, rather than a portrait, and place it on the second half of a Word document page. This way, after printing, all you need to do it fold the page in half.

Print onto high quality photo paper for a glossy, professional look.

Hand Drawn Cards

This is a great option for those with kids or a creative streak.  Draw a festive picture on some paper and scan it, using your all-in-one. Once the photo has appeared on your computer screen, follow the steps above! This is a great way to gets your kids in the festive spirit (and keep them busy for an afternoon). Suggest that they make several different designs and that way you can have your very own Christmas card selection.

A Little Creative Help

If getting the colouring pencils or family photo album out doesn't appeal then head online. There are a wealth of websites dedicated to making your own cards, with images you can download. Hop on Google and find a Christmas picture you like, download it and print out.

If you want to draw your own but are struggling for inspiration, have a scout around a few websites until you find something that is just right.

Add an extra bit of personality to your cards this year and get stuck in with some DIY cards!

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Organising your household documents

Organising your household documentsYou may have a very organised office complete with an alphabetised filing cabinet, to do lists and a different colour pen for every client, but what state are your household documents in?

Keeping bills, pay slips, insurance documents, birth certificates and bank stuff equally as organised as your office is important.

Your all-in-one printer can play a big part in this organisation process.

Scanning your important documents to create a digital filing system is one way to go about doing this. Not only will this save physical space (goodbye unattractive bulky filing cabinet) but will also make it far easier to find specific documents quickly.

Storing your documents on your computer, and then backing them up on an external hard drive, will also give you an additional layer of security.

Begin the process by sorting through your domestic paperwork. This is also a great opportunity to have a clear out. It is recommended that you keep paperwork pertaining to insurance and banking for up to seven years, so get rid of any backlog predating that.

It is important that you shred these documents rather than just throwing them away.

Next, create a filing system on your computer with different folders for different areas – car insurance, home insurance, medical, banking, payslips etc. Within those folders you can then create dated files if necessary.

Scan in your essential documents. These may include medical records, mortgage documents or other contracts, insurance policies, National Insurance details, passports, birth, death and marriage certificates and tax returns.

File them into their own category and voila, your data is safely stored on your computer.

Make sure you keep any originals that are of particular importance, but you should be able to downsize your paper collection enormously.

When backing up your files, consider using an online backup storage system for an additional layer of protection.

Using a password to protect your computer is also a step worth taking and store your external hard drive away from your laptop

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Choosing the best printer as a student

Choosing the best printer as a studentWhen choosing a printer it is important to consider what you will be using it for most – Word documents, photos or photocopying for example.

It is also really important to consider the cost, particularly as a student, when money is tight.

Firstly, you need to pick whether you need an all-in-one (printer, scanner and copier) or a more simple machine.

Your university course may dictate what type and what quality printer you need. If all you will be printing out is essays and course notes then buying a printer with a touch screen, scanner and more buttons than your remote control may be somewhat unnecessary.

If you want to be able to use your printer to scan text books, email these scans to your university account and create a number of intricate, coloured pictograms and graphs then you should look for a slightly more advanced printer.

Regardless of what type of printer you need, ensure you look for the following attributes:

· A compact printer. Students don't tend to have a lot of space so keep it small. Whilst at university, students tend to have to keep all their possessions in one room so don't buy a printer the size of a small house as you won't have anywhere to put it.

· Wireless printing. Most printers come with wireless printing as standard these days but it is worth checking. Wireless printing will save you time and get rid of the hassle of finding the right cable from your bundle of wires under your desk. Wireless printing will also enable you to print from anywhere in your house so you can print off your lecture notes from the comfort of your living room so you don't miss any of Don't Tell The Bride.

· Double-sided printing. Choose a printer that offers double-sided printing as this will ultimately save you money. Using half the amount of paper when printing will greatly reduce your costs. By buying a printer that sorts all that double-sided stuff out for you will avoid the annoying 'which way up do I put the paper in now' dilemma which inevitably leads to wasting paper and ink.

Budget buys

If you're looking for a really basic printer then check out the Epson Stylus S22 and the even more compact Epson Stylus SX130, both priced at around £20. Both colour printers, these machines are great for students who just need to print out the odd essay.

Budget printers won't have the option to print double-sided and you won't be able to print wirelessly either.

Mid range

If you are looking to spend a little more to get a slightly better printer, the Epson Stylus SX425W Colour Inkjet all-in-one might suit you.

It costs a little more – around £60 - but has far more print options that the super cheap Epsons. It is WiFi compatible and can print some nice looking photos. You can also put a memory card straight into the printer and print photos instantaneously. Capable of printer around 35 pages per minute, this compact machine is also pretty speedy.

Top end

If you plan on using your printer for photos then consider a Canon PIXMA printer. The Canon PIXMA MG5250 is an economical 5 cartridge printer whereas the Canon PIXMA MG6150 is a 6 cartridge printer utilising a Grey cartridge for more accurate mono prints. Both are all-in-ones and are WiFi ready. Both models also offer double-sided duplex printing.

A black ink cartridge will print around 350 pages, making this printer great value for money. Prices start at around £80.

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