I love to send and receive holiday cards! My Thanksgiving weekend ritual is to take inventory — while relaxing in front of the fire, with a glass of wine, snacks, and some Christmas music — of my friends, family, clients, colleagues, and those who have been helpful to me throughout the year. It’s a natural extension of counting my blessings. I use the cards I receive as decorations. In my Albuquerque home, my office is open to my kitchen, dining room and living room, so I tape them to my filing cabinet!
But the very last thing I want to do is to make anyone feel inadequate in the card-sending department! Who needs that kind of stress? Two friends posted on Facebook one year about receiving their first holiday card of the season. One wrote: “I love, love, love going to my mailbox this time of year! Doin’ a little dance!” The other wrote: “I think it is too early for sending Christmas cards. Maybe it bugs me because I haven’t even made my list yet.”
Here are my suggestions for alleviating holiday card stress and guilt:
To Send or Not To Send?
Yep, that’s the question! Think about what gives you joy during the holidays. Narrow it down to a few activities that are the most meaningful to you. Does your short list include sending holiday cards? Now consider this: How much do you enjoy receiving them, and staying in touch with loved ones? Keep in mind that the fewer you send, the fewer you are also likely to receive over time. I love both sending and receiving holiday cards. However, if it will help de-stress your holidays, I say let it go! Guilt-free!
When To Send
Still, things happen. I don’t always get the cards sent, or not right away, or not to everyone I intended. I do use SendOutCards, the online service — featuring my own handwriting font and signature — but I still can’t bear to send the same card, with a canned greeting, to every single person on my list, with one touch of a button, as advertised. I have different things I want to say to different people: my clients; friends I see in person frequently; old friends who live far away; business colleagues; etc. So it takes me longer than you might think.
Fortunately, I believe it’s never too soon, or too late, to let someone know you are thinking of them. One way of spreading out the love, the gratitude, and the work involved, is to send them in batches throughout the season – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, for example. If you miss the season altogether, there’s always Valentine’s Day!
How Many? How Much? What Kind?
Can’t afford to send cards to everyone you know? Well, you have two choices: 1) prioritize your list and send to only the truly most important people in your life, or 2) find cheaper ways to do it. I spend around $1.50 on each card, including postage. And I know hundreds of people, so not everyone gets a card. But for the ones who do, I think of it as a tiny little gift, not an obligation.
In order of preference here’s what I like to receive: Cards that include gift cards (lol!); handmade cards; paper cards with handwritten personal notes; photo cards (I prefer the ones of the whole family to the ones of just the kids); paper cards that I can display, maybe keep, or make little boxes and gift tags out of. Pre-printed cards without even a signature are less personal, but least I know you’re still alive, busy, and trying to simplify card sending! Newsletters are always welcome. The cheapest, of course, in terms of both time and money, are e-cards, e-mails, and social media greetings. I can’t decorate with them, but it’s always nice to know someone thought of me!
Merry Christmas v. Season’s Greetings
I personally love the salutations “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays”, not because they are politically correct, but because they refer to ALL of the winter holidays collectively (for me, Thanksgiving thru New Year). I am more likely to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” the closer we get to those actual days. If you are Jewish and want to wish me a “Happy Hanukkah”, I will simply be grateful that you are wishing me well! The word “holiday”, after all, does originally mean “holy day”. Does it really matter which one?
Breaking it Down
If a project like sending holiday cards seems overwhelming, but you really do still want to do it, just break it down into smaller tasks and do them over several days: list recipients, obtain addresses, choose cards, address envelopes, write greetings, stamp and mail. Breaking it down like that also makes it easier to delegate steps to others in your family. I say have fun with it — don’t forget the wine, snacks, and music! — or don’t do it at all. It’s OK. Really.
So…I’m curious…are you sending holiday cards this year? Or not?
Do you enjoy receiving them? How do you display them, if you do?
Please share with us in the comments!
Copyright 2012-2016 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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