About mid-fall, many people start dreading the annual chore of sending holiday cards. Images of late nights addressing envelopes, struggling to find a flattering family photo, or trying to put together the dreaded “letter” may come to mind. There is no doubt that sending holiday greetings is a task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are the key steps:
Set Your Budget
Cards and postage can add up. Decide in advance how much you are willing to spend. This will help you make decisions.
Set Your List
Begin (now!) by assembling your list. Whether electronically or on paper, record names, addresses, and emails (if you have them). Be sure to include people from whom you’ve received cards in the previous year (tracking this is very helpful in refreshing your list), family/friends you will send to “no matter what”, and new contacts you’ve made during the year. Keep separate lists for business & personal.
Choose a Greeting Type
Your can either send paper cards (homemade, generic or customized) or an electronic card. Paper cards typically offer a more personal feel, while ecards are more affordable. When deciding, be sure to consider whether everyone on your list will read/has access to an electronic card. If not, stick with paper.
Two types of services can help you with customized paper cards:
- Online card creation sites, such as Shutterfly, Snapfish, and TinyPrints: here you can upload images and choose a variety of personalization options, including pre-printed signatures and envelopes.
- Card Sending services, such as Pixingo, and Send Out Cards: these sites will not only help you create a card, but will (for a fee), send the cards for you.
The USPS offers holiday stamps each year. You can order these online to save time. Buy stamps now so you will have them when you need them.
Write an Update Letter (optional)
The annual letter is a matter of personal preference. Some love to hear about the details of the year, others don’t. With the advent of social media, the need for these updates has lessened. However, if you enjoy sharing the year’s highlights (or lowlights), remember to keep your message brief and not too “braggy.” Consider printing it on a festive piece of stationary.
Address, Sign & Stamp
If you decide to go with paper and do the work yourself, consider breaking the project into small bits. For example, affix postage/return address labels one day, print and fold letters another day, address envelopes another day, etc. OR, consider making it a “family event.” Children can be very helpful in applying stickers or stuffing envelopes.
A few tips to keep in mind:
- If you use a photo, run it by family members first (especially teens) to make sure everyone is ok with it.
- Any scanned image can be uploaded to personalize cards, including children’s artwork and handwritten messages.
- Be careful when selecting card shape. For example, square cards require extra postage.
- Printing addresses on your computer (either onto labels or directly onto envelopes) saves a lot of time and energy.
- A few hand written words at the bottom of a pre-printed card offers a meaningful bit of personalization.
- Always order a few extra cards for unexpected errors or last minute additions to your list.
- If a card you send is returned, make note of it so you can correct your list for next year.
Prepare for Receiving Cards
Cards can make a beautiful holiday decoration as well as a cheery greeting. Decide in advance where & how you will keep them when they arrive. A few ideas include:
- Hang them around a doorframe or on a bulletin board
- Put them in a basket
- Place them in a sorter hanging from the wall
- Clothespin them to a ribbon along a stairwell or mantle (but not too near a flame!)
Holiday cards are a fun part of the holidays. What ideas have you discovered for managing this part of the holiday season?