Holiday Card Quandary

Yeah, I know it’s not even Halloween and she’s thinking about Christmas cards??? Erm, I mean secular happy jolly holiday cards? But I am one of those people. I love to have my cards done and mailed to me by Thanksgiving, it’s one of my traditions to start writing them out over that long weekend.

But to be honest, the thought of it just kind of gets sillier and sillier every year.

With the dawn of email, and digital photography, and then blogs, so many people in my life see everything we do within minutes of us doing it. Do they really need yet another thing from me? Especially one that kills trees?

Last year, our holiday card count was near 150. ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY. The postage alone on that is $70. Not counting the $100 worth of card printing. And then 95% of my list is on email – so, is it silly to physically mail them something I could so easily zip them in cyberspace?

But as I have these thoughts, I feel like a total cheap-ass punk Scrooge. I know the point is that we all take the time to write a note, think of each family throughout the holidays, blah-di-dee-blah. The fact is, I am so overwhelmed at that time of year, even when I take the time over that long Thanksgiving weekend, most of the cards only get a “Love, Us” inscription. And what’s so personal about that?

So, should I buck the system, save some trees and do it differently this year? Or is that just too much new world unfeeling techno crap?

This article has 40 comments

  1. chloebear

    Stick with tradition, with all this new techno crap, I think it’s important. There aren’t many traditions left now at days! I really do enjoy your annual card!

  2. Mary Lynn

    I love getting a real card, but I have the same concerns as you about all the paper and stamps that get used when you go the traditional route.

    I think that high tech greetings can be okay if they are done right. Last year friends of ours sent out a Holiday newsletter in PDF form that was absolutely gorgeous. It was a two-pager done up in a pamphlet sort of format, with information about what they and their kids had been up to in the past year, and lots of gorgeous colour photos of them and their kids. Since they live far away, it was so nice to get something so detailed. I’m considering doing something similar, though I think for some of my older relatives, I will still send a more-traditional card.

  3. zipper

    That’s a lot of money and effort! UGH!

  4. Anonymous

    keep it up!!

  5. Mayberry

    Logically, of course it makes no sense and that’s why I didn’t send (paper) birth announcements for either kid. But I LOVE getting holiday cards. Love love love. So I hope no one ever stops.

  6. imelda

    I was pondering the same thing already. I think I’m going to do nice paper cards but try and cut down on the price or number somehow.

    Last few years I have done but real paper cards and some electronic. Seems each year the electronic # goes up and the paper go down.

  7. Rebecca F.

    Boy, what a timely and fantastic post. I’m really interested to hear what others have to say.

    Rebecca F.

  8. Fairy

    I agree with the poster that said you should continue to do it, but cut your costs by possibly getting cards made on recycled paper, make your own, etc.

  9. monstergirlee

    I love love love everything digital.

    That being said, I am also a traditionalist in many ways – and I love holiday cards. I to decorate minimally when the holiday’s come around, but we hang all our cards around the doorway between the living room and dining room and I love the way it looks. I’ve always done it that way and it makes me feel warm inside. (dork I know) The kids ask questions about who is that or where did that one come from. I can do digital for just about everything else, however Christmas cards, I love the real thing. It can be expensive tho.
    And the use of paper products in this fashion cannot be discounted. Maybe trade something like…. we won’t use more than one paper napkin per day for 6 months, or no paper cups for a year, something like that. Just a thought. I would be sad if we didn’t get a card this year. (I keep all the photo cards)

  10. Katie

    I hate wasting the trees, but I love sending the cards and think it’s important to connect with people that way.

    I’m cutting down on both the waste and cost this year by making ours a postcard. No envelope means less waste and it’s cheaper postage and printing! I also save on the postage by hand-delivering the local ones, not a special trip, just giving them out at all the holiday functions we see our friends at.

  11. Sizzle

    Each year I get less cards. It makes me sad. For some, it’s the only time I hear from them. I personally love getting mail and really hope people don’t stop sending them. I prefer the ones that have a personal touch though so if it has gotten to be too much, maybe bring the list down to a manageable number?

  12. Andy

    Screw em! All those cards are so damn overwhelming anyway!

  13. Aimee Greeblemonkey

    I am kind of digging the idea of a postcard! Where I still do the photo and maybe have even more room for a handwritten note on the back, and also cut down on costs and paper.

    You guys are the best!

    Now. Who prints good postcards?

  14. J at

    I enjoy getting cards, but I don’t reuse them like I say I will. So they mostly go to waste. (One year I cut the pictures off of the front of the cards, you know, the ones that weren’t pictures of actual people, and used them as gift tags…but only one year)

    But I’ll still send them out. I try to put more than a love, us, in them, but sometimes, that’s all people get. 😉

  15. Jennifer

    Maybe find a middle ground. Cut back on your costs, make your own cards out of recycled paper, let your little ones do the designing, or just send festive post cards. I’m down with saving trees but I don’t get the same warm fuzzies from sending or receiving an e-card.

  16. Sue at eLuckypacket

    Big fan of real cards too.

  17. carrie

    I love Christmas cards! I say keep on keepin’ on . . . oh, and I bought mine at the after Christmas sale at Target last year – I think the total (for like 4 dozen cards I can stick a photo in) was around $30. BARGAIN.

    That is, if I still LIKE them when I get them out of their storage bin! 🙂

  18. amy turn sharp of doobleh-vay

    stick with oldschool…I love it- but we are making postcards this year…a photo card perhaps? I feel you though, but I think it is a good tradition for the family. xo I want to be yr 151. xo

  19. Momma, The Casual Perfectionist

    Our Holiday Card List hovers around 200. We print a letter or poem or some type of re-cap on pretty paper and then have a photo-card made.

    *We* hang everyone’s picture/holiday card up on ribbon and string them on our banister. It helps to add Holiday Cheer to our decorations. (We’re pretty minimal when it comes to decorating…we do a tree – mainly for our visiting relatives and our toddler loves it…and we hang the holiday cards on the ribbon.)

    So…do what you want, but we LOVE getting old-fashioned hold-in-your-hand read-about-the-kids cards.


  20. Grace

    I’m in similar quandary, except international edition! Last year, I sent about 100 photo cards and probably 20 or 30 “traditional” ones. All of them were to friends and family within the US.

    Then, we unexpectedly moved to London this summer…

    I’m thinking 120 cards + international postage… yeah!

    I don’t know what to do either.

  21. Rachael

    Our Christmas card list is about 100 long too, and I’ve been pondering this very question. I mean, do people CARE about a paper card? A paper letter?

    I have to admit, I like picking out the cards, but handsigning every one and addressing the envelopes takes time. I like writing our annual letter and making cute picture headers for it, but all that paper and ink costs money. I also make it a point to send out family photos every year.

    I’m still not sure. I have to tell you though, I personally LOVE getting X-mas cards, and most of them can be recycled afterwards if you don’t keep them (I’m a packrat…). I think this year I’ll send out cards again – I do well buying them at CostCo, but we’ll see… Maybe I’ll do half and half depending on who they’re going to.

  22. Ashmystir

    Real cards is more personal. Do them home made and have Declan help.

    Good idea yes?

  23. nutmeg

    You could feed a family with that kind of money! Seriously. I would make an e-card and include a sentence saying the money you saved by being a cheap-ass punk Scrooge is being used to buy a poor family an egg-producing chicken or a milk-making goat.

    I might even do it myself!

  24. Katie

    Shutterfly will make a postcard out of your picture, and I’m sure other photo sites will too. You can also print your own with postcard stock from OfficeMax/Depot.

  25. Ms. Maxwell

    I’ve always been a die-hard traditionalist about holiday cards (with a holiday letter included). Here’s my plan for this year: I’m going to do a blog post that is our official holiday greeting to everyone sometime after Thanksgiving. Then, I’m going to send out a holiday photo postcard to our list (about 120 strong) with the URL for that posting telling people that it’s there. Also telling them that we are officially going paperless from here on out so to either read the blog regularly or get me an email address because that’s the only holiday greeting we’ll be doing from now on. And this is coming from someone who has 19 neatly labeled ziploc bags of holiday cards received over the past 19 years. I re-read them all every year. So maybe I’ll just do the postcard/blog post combination each year. Depends on the reaction I get, I guess.

  26. fruitlady

    A postcard that Declan designs! Woot! Printed on recycled or handmade paper! Then deliver them with your one horse open sleigh, Anne of Green Gables style. With warm rum and apple cider to keep you warm over the river and through the woods.

  27. Jean Ann

    I would love to find a way to use my holiday cards after I get them…you know a crafty type way…suggestions?

  28. Kim

    The way I work at Christmas. I do not send cards, never have. Everyone I love, knows that every year I give money to charity that other people spend on stamps and cards.
    And if the people you love (the 150..) do no yet know that, then send them an e-card saying that this is your new Christmas resolution. Giving to charity instead of to hallmark and post offices.

  29. mommy2twindaughters

    I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. Obviously, it would help if I email people but I love the tradition of sending Christmas cards! I love getting cards, makes me giddy 🙂 I say stick with the tradition, I know I will be.

  30. HG

    I have bucked the system; the paper cards were a waste of paper, postage, and often a chore. Last year, I designed my own card on my computer and emailed it to friends and family (most of whom are online anyways) and sent a paper card to the very few who aren’t online. Here is a link to the card if you want to see how simple it was:

  31. apathy lounge

    Real cards are so much better than the crap generated by someone’s computer. All that tells me is that this person is too lazy to get off his ass and go to the card store.

  32. Sarah Bellum

    I relieved exactly 10 holiday cards last year. (Yes, I’m unpopular, fuck off.) Three of which were electronic cards. Those are the ones that meant the most to me. Knowing that someone cares about the environment AND me makes me giddy.

    Go electronic!

  33. Nat

    Nobody loves me. I think we got three cards last year or something. I think we may pass this year.

  34. painted maypole

    you know, I love getting the cards, I have to say, particularly if they have a note in them. last year I did some of them via e-mail to trim the list down a bit, and that seemed to work for us

  35. Kimberly

    I’m a traditionalist on this one. I love receiving cards and my kids love looking at them (especially those with photos of other kids). Every year we tack them up on a wall and spend weeks looking at them and talking about everyone in the pictures (who they are, how we know them, etc.). It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions.

  36. zenrain

    i for one look forward to real mail, and would be sad not to have some real mail in my mailbox other than junk & catalogs……

  37. Sarah K

    One of the things I look forward to most at the holidays is coming home to my mailbox and opening my cards and putting them up as decorations. Just wouldn’t be the same in an email.

  38. Oz

    I love getting real mail, but sending it is a bit of a chore. I think an electronic one would be fun, especially if it has special effects, like little dancing greebles or monkeys or what have you.

  39. Swistle

    I LOVE getting cards, and I put them all up on my walls and admire them well into January, and I am SO SAD when someone else on my list saves a tree instead of my card-loving heart. Though I understand it. Sad sigh.

    What you could do as an in between thing is cut it back. Pare your list down to the people who also participate in card-sending (unless you’ve already done this). And get regular boxed cards at Target, and buy them after Christmas at 75% or 90% off. Get prints at or whatever for 10 cents each and pop one into each card. This brings the cost down to 42c postage plus 10c photo plus about 10c per clearanced card.

  40. Kristie McNealy

    I vote postcards or digital. We print postcards at Vista Print. I used them to print my son’s birth announcements. They often have coupons for 100 free postcards. Quality is good, and the one time it wasn’t, they replaced the order without a problem.

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