It's the most wonderful time of the year at your mailbox! While sorting through bills and advertisements, you're likely to come across a handful of holiday greetings. Want to return the favor, but skip the pre-packaged greetings? Here are five tips for more creative holiday cards.

Let the Kids Design the Card

There's nothing sweeter than a children's drawing of a Christmas tree or snowman. Hand out blank sheets of paper and crayons/markers, and let kids use their imagination. When their masterpiece is complete, snap a photo (being careful to line up the artwork in the frame). Print 4x6 photos of the artwork, and adhere to plain cards (you can pick them up in bulk at a craft supply store).

Create a Collage

Tired of searching for the perfect family photo for your card? Why not use a compilation of photos from the past year? Use a photo editing program to create a collage of photos, or simply upload to an online service (such as Persnickety Prints) that provides this option. Don't limit yourself to just photos of kids — be sure to include pets, travel, and favorite activities. Collages can be printed as photo cards, or as prints so that you can adhere to a blank folded card.

Use Favorite Photos

Holiday cards don't have to be winter-themed, and don't even have to feature family photos! Did you take an amazing vacation? Did your garden bloom extra bright this year? Use these "everyday" photos to share in your cards — either as the focal point, or even as an insert. Have the cards printed to 3x5, and adhere to 4x6 blank cards with decorative washi tape.

Feature a Quote

For a striking card that will be treasured beyond the holidays, find a favorite quote and create a striking text-only, black-and-white card. Many office supply stores offer card printing services — you'll just need to upload a digital file. You can even create custom postcards this way, which will reduce your mailing costs. Want a less graphic option? Use photo-editing software to add a quote to a favorite photo.

Give DIY Greetings

A trip to your local crafting store will arm you with blank cards, patterned paper, and adhesive. Get creative with layered strips or punched shapes. The craft designers at Fiskars.com have provided step-by-step instructions for dozens of card designs. Jazz up the cards with ribbon, glitter, and holiday stickers.

Turn snail mail into merry mail this holiday season!