After taking a quick survey of friends, family members and café baristas (those last interviews were a little awkward), I figured out that everyone struggles when sending out Christmas cards each year. One woman even confessed that last year she sent hers on Boxing Day- not a great plan considering that’s still a holiday for postal workers.
Even though most people know me as a great advocate of anything involving written correspondence, I think they would be surprised to find that I actually struggle with Christmas cards as well. It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing them- fun pens and a glass of wine usually help with that- it’s just the sheer amount of cards that make the task so intimidating.
So what do you do when faced with a stack of blank cards?
Make like Santa Claus, and make a list.
I know, some days I think I should change my middle name to “List” (my middle initial is already L) but making a Christmas card list is easy- just write down all the names of the people to whom you send or give Christmas cards. (If you’ve already done this for your Christmas gifts, make sure you reference that list as well. Here’s how to make one here.) Make sure you include names of spouses and/or children (I think it’s nice to include everyone!).
I make this task easier every year by keeping track of all the names and addresses of people who have sent me cards the year before. There’s a copy on my computer and a copy in my command central binder for easy reference.
Find some way to differentiate between the cards that you’ll send in the mail and the cards that you’ll be delivering in person. Don’t forget to further separate your mailing list between cards that are sent nationally and internationally. Check with your local post office to see the recommended due dates for national and international mailings.
To make the process easier on myself every year, I usually keep a running total of the number of people on my list so I know how many Christmas cards to buy (although it’s always good to have extra) and so I can calculate how much I will need to spend on postage and budget accordingly. You may even want to invest in return address labels, or keep an updated file for mailing labels on your computer ready.
Then it’s just a matter of getting the creative juices flowing with a little eggnog, some carols and a Christmas cookie or two. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. Write about the weather, any major events that have happened to you or your family in the past year, and ask after their families and lives as well. Keep it sweet and simple.
Make sure if you’ve moved that you include a copy of your new address inside the card and on the envelope so people know where to reach you in the future. This is a great opportunity to ask for other addresses that are missing in your address book as well.
Lastly, please make sure you keep in mind the beliefs of all the people on your Christmas card list! Not everyone appreciates an über-religious card, and some people do not appreciate a Christmas card altogether. There’s nothing more embarrassing than realizing the “neutral holiday greeting card” that you’re about to give your Jewish boyfriend’s parents has a giant glittering Santa on it. (True story-it happened to a friend of mine years ago.)
Maybe you should have checked that list twice, after all.
Now that you’ve checked your greeting cards off of your to-do list, you’re ready to tackle another project! Find more great ideas for organizing projects on my busy page.