4 open source ways to create holiday greetings

Open source tools and resources provide creative possibilities for any holiday.
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Painting art on a computer screen


The holiday season is upon us once again, and this year I decided to celebrate in an open source way. Like a particular famous holiday busybody, I have a long list (and I do intend to check it twice) of holiday tasks: create a greeting card (with addressed envelopers) to send to family and friends, make a photo montage or video to a suitably festive song, and decorate my virtual office. There are plenty of open source applications and resources making my job easier. Here's what I use.

Inkscape and clip art

One of my favorite resources is FreeSVG.org (formerly Openclipart.org). It's easy to find your favorite holiday, including Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's, and more. The clip art is all contributed by users like you and me, and Creative Commons Zero (CC0), so you don't even need to provide attribution. When possible, I still do give attribution, to ensure that FreeSVG and its artists get visibility.

Here's an example of some clip art from FreeSVG:

Using Inkscape's Text to Path tool, I added my own text to the image, which I used on a card. With a little more preparation, I could also use the graphic on some custom cups or placemats.

Word processing

LibreOffice Writer can be used to create greeting cards and posters for use around your home or distributing to your friends and family. Create a database of your family and friends using LibreOffice Calc and then use that resource to simplify making mailing labels with the mail merge function.

Creative Commons pictures and graphics

There's also art on search.creativecommons.org. Mind the license type: give proper credit to anything requiring attribution. This image ("Thanksgiving Dealies") came from the Creative Commons image search. It's by Martin Cathrae and is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, so it can be adapted, reused, and shared under the same license.

I took this same image and added some of my own text to it with GIMP. You can use Inkscape to do the same thing. 

Creative Commons offers plenty of image options that would make for a festive background during your next video conference.

Videos and live streaming

You can also incorporate images like these along with some of your own and create a short video clip using OpenShot video editor. You can easily add narration by recording a separate voice track using Audacity. Sound effects can be added in Audacity, saved to file, and imported into a soundtrack on OpenShot video editor. Find legal background music to add to your video.

Livestream your holiday gatherings with Open Broadcaster Software. It's easy to use OBS to present an engaging holiday show for your friends and family using the software, or you can save the program as a Matroska or MP4 file for later viewing.

Reading material

Project Gutenberg is an excellent source of free holiday reading material to share. Dickens' Christmas Carol is one such resource that is easily read on the web or downloaded as an EPUB or in a format for your favorite eReader. You can also find royalty-free reading materials, like "The Feast of Lights" from Librivox, in mp3 format so they can be downloaded and played in your favorite browser or media player.

Holiday fun

The most important aspect of the holiday season is that they're relaxing and fun times with friends and family. If you've got family members curious about computers, take a moment to share some of your favorite open source resources with them.


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Educator, entrepreneur, open source advocate, life long learner, Python teacher. M.A. in Educational Psychology, M.S. Ed. in Educational Leadership, Linux system administrator.


And don't forget about Scribus.

It should be worth a note that openclipart.org is running again (after a hiatus) and has new clips added to it regularly. My understanding is that FreeSVG.org was intended to keep the clips available when openclipart.org was offline.

At this point, both are a good source of clip elements.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.