This post is part of a series – “31 days to take the Stress out of Christmas”. You can read all the posts in the series here. And to make sure you don’t miss a post you can subscribe to have every post delivered to your inbox, or follow me on facebook.
Christmas cards… Do you send them? Do you like to get them? There is probably a lot of differing opinions on both of those questions.
I was actually surprised at how many of you still love to send cards when I asked on facebook last week. I am so glad too because I thought it was sadly becoming a thing of the past.
I actually love to do both. I love getting cards in the mail – probably the only month I get more personal mail than emails. I also enjoy sending them although that part can be a bit stressful. Since our first Christmas we have taken an annual Christmas picture and also written an annual Christmas letter. I usually just take a picture on a timer in front of our Christmas tree but last year we did an outside picture and probably will do the same this year.
Just getting the hubs to agree and cooperate for the picture can be stressful to start with – ahem. But then comes the designing the card, finding the cheapest option to order them, addressing the cards, writing the letter and not doing it ahead of time causes the most stress. So this year I am determined to take out picture and order the cards before Thanksgiving. In hopes to send them out the week after Thanksgiving – people may be shocked when they get my card before December 23rd this year.
So here’s my 5 tips to sending Christmas cards:
1. Collect addresses ONCE. Our first Christmas I took out wedding invitation list and copied those addresses I needed into a Microsoft Excel document to create my master “Christmas card address list.” I update that document throughout the year as I get address updates or hear of family changes. That is the one part that is not stressful at all for me – no gathering addresses since they are all there from last year and hopefully updated if there were any changes. If gathering addresses is the stressful part for you I really encourage you to find a system and gather them ONCE so you only have to do updates and not re-gather them every year.
2. Find a program or online program that will address your cards for you. When we first married, I worked as a church secretary for 5 months and learned a valuable skill I still use today. Mail Merge in Microsoft Word/Excel. Sending out 300+ newsletters each month allowed me to learn how to do it well! I just open up a Word document and either select to print the addresses on labels or envelopes, click “merge” and all my addresses merge in correct address form. 5 minutes later and my envelopes or labels are addressed. I love and use Google Docs/Drive pretty much exclusively now and sure wish they had mail merge capabilities! So I encourage you to find some kind of program that will do this for you. I know some of the card company sites will do that too. I would love to know if any of you use an online program that will do this!
3. Paper cards or photos cards? Decide what kind of cards you will do in October. If you are doing photo cards, schedule when you will get pictures done or take them yourself. Figure out outfits for everyone – this can require some shopping so make sure to do this way ahead of time. If you are going to do paper cards go ahead and buy them now. Or better yet buy your cards on clearance after Christmas for the next year each year. I do this with cards we give out at church and for the stationary we use for our letter – usually pay 25¢ for packs of patterned Christmas paper and less than $1 for boxes of really nice cards.
4. Buy postage over time. The most expensive part of sending cards is the postage for me. I can print my photos cheap by designing my own card and printing them as 4×6 prints or finding a coupon deal at a photo site and I get the stationary/cards cheap. But nothing much I can about the price of postage. So buy a roll of stamps in October or buy a book of stamps each grocery shopping trip to spread out the cost.
5. Schedule a time to do them early! Week after Thanksgiving or first week of December is ideal. I intend to have mine done this year right after Thanksgiving. People may be shocked this year when they get my card before December 23rd!
So there’s my tips. I would love to know how you do your cards! Traditions you have, when you send them, how you store and address your cards.
In the next post I will share some card ideas – looking forward to find some new creative ones!