As any good grown-up knows, cards are an essential part of the holiday season. I'm a terrible adult in so many ways (I truly don't even feel like one most of the time!), but I have always enjoyed picking out and sending cards to friends and family during the holidays. Nowadays there are so many options it's easy to get overwhelmed and not send any, but please reconsider!!! Whether you create your own photo cards, buy boxed sets, or send e-cards, the gesture of slipping a personal card in the mail sends a message of love and friendship during the season of giving.
*A note on Email-cards: In my personal opinion, the holidays are really made for true, tangible, hold-in-your-hand cards rather than E-cards. E-cards may be easy to send and many of them are free, however major drawbacks to E-cards are the risk they pose with electronic security questions, the time they take to download, and most importantly that they are seriously short on the warm and fuzzy factor. Another major downside to the e-mail card is its brief lifespan. A card sent through standard mail will have longevity and a more personal impact. In a sense that card contains a part of you. You picked it out. You addressed and hand-signed it. You took the time to stamp it and bring it to the post office (or walk down the driveway to tuck it in the mailbox). It’s so much more personable than an electronic greeting. You know the feeling when you see holiday cards start popping up in your mailbox. Mailed cards cause a little burst of excitement when they arrive! You matter enough to someone for them to have taken time out of their daily routine to consider you. In my house (and I bet in yours too!) cards are opened before any other mail. Opening a holiday card is like getting a little 'hello!' and a hug from a loved one far away. For as much of my childhood as I can remember and now into my adulthood my family always made some kind of festive display to mount the cards upon to admire for the duration of the holidays, prolonging their life and the good wishes sent with them. Don't get me wrong, I love a silly e-card with me and my family as dancing singing elves and gingerbread men, but for genuine sentimentality, go with the real deal.
Phew. Sorry for the tangent. Back to the matter at hand.
Many families have their own personal traditions that they follow when sending Christmas cards, but there are still some rules everyone should observe to make sure your holiday cards are full of perfectly articulated cheer:
- Make a note of which cards are going to which families. Some people prefer to send out generic "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" cards to everyone on their lists to keep things easy (and secular), but sending out cards that are more personalized is also nice and shows the time you took in regards to that family or individual. If your family celebrates Christmas, by all means send Christmas cards, but make sure that Christmas cards don't get sent to people who don't celebrate it. For those friends and loved ones, a card unique to their special holiday or even a simple "Season's Greetings" will do. Just remember to keep each card appropriate to the recipient. If uncertain whether the recipient celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah or another religious faith or tradition, send a card with a neutral greeting such as Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, Let it Snow or Peace on Earth.
- Mail your cards as early as possible. Ideally, you want your cards to arrive in early or mid December so than can be enjoyed for the rest of the season. Try not to send them before Thanksgiving, but don't forget to consider that the post office is extremely busy this time of year and you don't want your cards to arrive after Christmas day, either.
- Use your own handwriting wherever possible, especially on the outside of the envelopes and signatures inside the cards. This will give your cards a personal touch and show that you care enough to take a few minutes and give each card some attention. It's extra special if you handwrite a short note on the inside of the card. Your friends and loved ones will love to hear how you are and what is going on for you and your family!
- Include your return address on all cards. The return address serves many purposes, primarily that the recipient will know who the card is from right away (and they can jump for joy!) It also ensures that they have your current address every year and they can use it to send a card back to you if they haven't already.
- I know I said it already, but don't send e-cards as a substitute for real cards. A Christmas card should be an act of generosity with a personal touch. If all you had to do was click a link to send a card out, it no longer evokes the feeling of traditional winter cheer. Besides, there are so many beautiful options for holiday cards. From letterpress and gold foiling to glitter, laser-cut and hand-painted cards--you literally have millions of beautiful options to choose from!
(See the below for some of my favorite card resources and a special holiday deal on Bert&Lou artisan cards!)
Tips on sending holiday cards to coworkers and business associates:
- If you have chosen to send Christmas cards to business associates, send it to their offices unless you also know them socially. A good rule of thumb is if you haven't been introduced to their families, keep the cards professional. Sign the cards with a note from you personally, but reserve the family photo cards for your friends and relatives.
When sending cards to co-workers, mail the cards to their homes rather than handing them out in the office. Remember in first grade when kids would hand out their birthday party invitations at school? Anyone not invited felt like first grade CRAP. This way it is more personal, and most importantly avoids conflict in case you don't have cards for everyone. It also has a more traditional feel when your card arrives along with everyone else's in an addressed envelope (And don't forget to include the name of the spouse on the envelope!).
Business holiday cards are generally sent to thank clients for their services and are usually printed with the name of the firm.
Tricks of the Trade:
- I call this The Fancy Envelope Trick: Almost everything you get in the mail is flat, right? This usually consists of bills, catalogues, and junk mail. When your relatives and friends receive your Christmas cards, you obviously want them to see it right away. Disturb their neat little pile of flat mail by putting something special inside such as a candy cane or chocolate along with your card. They'll pick it up right away, wondering what is inside! If you'd rather not pay the extra postage for the addition of a sweet treat, you can tuck in a sheet of cute stickers (I like gold/silver medallions or kraft hearts), special photographs, or a print of your child's latest artistic masterpiece. Another trick for getting your card noticed right away is by making sure the envelopes are colorful or special in some way. My grandpa has been using festive stamps as envelope sealers for as long as I can remember and I always know a card is from him as soon as I see that personal touch. :)
- For both imprinting and addressing cards, "Mr. and Mrs. Joe Soandso" is considered formal usage; "Pam and Joe Soandso" is informal. The wife's name precedes the husband's if they share the same surname. If they have two different last names, the woman's name goes on the first line and the man's below.
Don't forget to write the recipient's name inside the card!
No matter what you celebrate this time of year, the holidays are a time when you can let people you love (and those you may not be the greatest at staying in touch with) know you care. As promised, here are some of my resources for favorite holiday cards and a *special deal on Bert&Lou cards*!
Create your own cards:
The deal you've all been waiting for:
***From now until Christmas Eve, all boxed card purchases will receive a special gift with their order! How great is that?! Swing by the shop and toss a few in your cart! If you are interested in custom or bulk orders, shoot me a line through the shop. I'd love to work with you!