Santa photos: Worth the splurge? Discuss.

Spending wisely doesn’t always mean being a Scrooge. Sometimes, it’s just about balance.

Take, for example, the fact that Matt and I have been on, er, hiatus from mailing Christmas cards for about five years now. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the holidays; we so do! But there just doesn’t seem to be time to 1) Go out and buy nice cards; 2) Write a personalized note inside each of them; 3) Dig up everyone’s current address; 4) Remember to buy stamps and mail them in time for Christmas.

“You have two young kids — nobody’s expecting a card from you,” pronounced my friend Carolyn three Christmases ago, when Isobel was still pretty much a newborn. “And if they are, you wouldn’t want to be friends with them, anyway.”

This year, though, Isobel and Bronwyn are both old enough to occupy themselves for the time it would take to slap together at least half a dozen cards. Besides, some friends and family don’t even know what the girls look like anymore; it’s been that long since we sent out pictures.

“Maybe we should splurge on the Santa photos this year,” said Matt as we got the girls dressed for a mall run and St. Nick visit. We cheaped out on Bronwyn’s school photos, and our desktop computer, which we use to organize and print out our own digital photos, is on the fritz (more on that in a future post). So it seemed alright to spend a small portion of our Christmas shopping budget on a modest photo package, allowing us to send current pix along with some overdue holiday cards.

Gaak! The photos are expensive! We chose to purchase two 5 x 7s and four 4 x 6 photos. With tax: $30.45. Still, under the circumstances, the splurge seemed justified. And the quality of prints we received is much higher than the “documentary” shot I took using my camera phone, above.

What’s your take on the pros and cons of Santa photos?

P.S. If you are short on cash, or simply prefer to take your own Santa shots, most mall Santas will allow your kids to visit, sans photo, for free. Just specify that you want only a visit when your turn comes up.

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