Snail mail in the Emirates is a little funky. It exists…it works most of the time, or so I’ve heard…but I have never seen a post office since we’ve been here and I can’t be bothered to go look for one. We have a handy-dandy letter forwarding system from NYU in New York to NYU Abu Dhabi, so I can receive mail (at the pace of a snail crossing the Atlantic), but I have yet to send out so much as a postcard, even though I bought a bunch right after moving here, fully intending to start pen pal relationships with friends and family back home. Sorry that never happened!
However, I just couldn’t let a year go by without sending our annual family holiday card! Especially since living in the Middle East provides a rich choice of holiday themes: ohhh, I was just about to list all my ideas, but that would spoil them for future holiday cards, so NUH UH!
I didn’t really know how I was going to send the cards – I didn’t even know how I was going to make the cards, since I asked around a little bit and no one seemed to know of any card printing services here in the UAE – but I had “holiday card photo shoot” on my vague “Winter To-Do” list and I pinned a few ideas for inspiration.
I ended up never formally putting together a photo shoot (which, for us, has always meant heading into the backyard with a camera, the kids, and some props, never a professional photographer – that’s just silly), but we went as a family to the Swiss Christmas Market at the Beach Rotana Hotel – the same place that had hosted the Oktoberfest that I went to in the fall – and we found ourselves with such a perfect backdrop that I just had to take some pictures with the card in mind!
That night, I picked my favorite photo, found the best online coupon code that was easily searchable, and made a card through tinyprints.com. My intent was to saddle some lucky family member with the chore of addressing and sending all the cards for me, but when I checked out, I found that Tiny Prints has the option of paying for them to address and send the cards. Problem solved! Yes, it was at an added cost, but really not much. No, I am in no way getting paid by Tiny Prints to write this, though if I were a proper blogger, I would.
The pictures I took were just so darn cute, I have to share them here. These were the ones I considered for the card:
Yes folks, that’s an actual full-family shot! Such a rarity! My friend Monica was with us at the market (which was just on the other side of those palm umbrellas) and she took this photo. I think it’s 99% great, but May looks so forlorn. We considered photoshopping a happier face from one of the other pictures Monica took, but that’s way more effort than we generally care to expend.
So this is what we ended up going with:
Monica just happened to have two Santa hats in her bag! What?! Yes!
I only had one night to get it made and input all the addresses before the coupon code expired, so I could only send cards to people whose addresses I already had. Also, it wouldn’t let me add any international addresses, even though I would have gladly paid for the international postage. Boo! Sorry friends and family abroad. This is all you get.