Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Questioning Christmas Cards

Visit for Christmas cards this holiday.

That preview shows the last Christmas card Steve and I have sent -- and that was two years ago now. Last year, I was exhausted enough that I had quit my job, and was doing my best to make as many of our gifts as possible. At one point, I had fantasized about creating individual watercolor cards for each person on our list.

Delusional much?

In the end, I don't think we sent out any cards at all. Over the years, we've tried to do something creative and a little newsy, but not a TL;DR* nominee.

But I've begun to notice that we generally received three types of cards:

  • Many of the cards we receive were sent in response to the one we'd sent. So, in a sense, our card created a sort of obligation. 
  • A few cards were custom-printed family portraits, sometimes with a quick note. 
  • Others were simply mass-produced cards signed with best wishes from the sender, without any personal note. Whenever we opened them, my honest thought was, "Why bother?"
  • A great many were long-winded documents full of accomplishments. Given the vicissitudes of our life, it has often been easier to say nothing than to either gloss over reality or to bury everyone in the TMI** of our family.
  • There were a few from friends that we only hear from once a year.

I think I am not alone in the question of whether to send cards or not. I like the custom-printed cards, but we're trying to keep costs down, now that we've retired, and printing plus postage adds up fast.

Instead, I think we might do an e-card this year. There are very, very few people for whom we do not have an e-mail address.

There is an exception, however. I'm thinking that I might send snail-mail cards to the youngsters we know, kids too young to have e-mail accounts. They are the only ones who would likely be excited to receive mail addressed to them. Also, to be honest, there are so few of them that it would not be a huge or expensive undertaking.

I'm curious to know what you do. Do you still send snail-mail cards? Do you personalize them with a handwritten note? Do you send custom-printed cards? Do you personalize those with a note? Do you wish this whole question would just go away? Do you treasure these cards as a nostalgic reminder of days gone by?

Take the poll below!

*TL;DR = Too long; didn't read
**TMI = Too much information


  1. By "send" I mean, mail to family far away who I won't see during the holidays, and handout to a select few who need Christmas cheer, by "store-bought cards", I mean a collection which were purchased on sale last year, and by "hand-written note", I mean a couple of lines to show we are connected. Less and less are done each year. Postage prices are just too high.

    1. Those are exactly the comments I would have made as well.

  2. You forgot one category of card, just about the only one I receive anymore: cards from doctors, dentists, real estate agents, etc.
    I used to make my cards by hand, and write a short, personal note in each. That stopped the year I had Drew (though I still have the set of half-made cards I intended to send that year). Jason, for some reason, is strongly opposed to photo cards, and I don't particularly like store-bought cards (they feel so impersonal, even with a personal note), so we just don't send them now, apparently. We did send photo cards two years ago, against Jason's wishes, because we had family portraits done and the photo package my parents bought came with photo cards. My parents decided they'd be best used by us. So I sent them. :) And it's probably a factor of the generation I belong to, but Facebook allows me to keep up with pretty much anyone from whom I'd be interested in receiving a card. Photo cards or newsletters feel a little redundant since I've seen/read everything already, and what am I supposed to do with a picture of someone else's family? Maybe it's the hoarder in me, but I truly hate to throw away a cute photo card, but I really have no reason to keep it, either. So I'm left either feeling guilty or holding onto cards for no reason for a ridiculous amount of time. I think Christmas cards, photos, and newsletters all stem from the same thing that drives Facebook. And now that we have Facebook, the cards are sort of unnecessary. I get that it used to be a way to reconnect with friends and loved ones who you didn't see frequently, but with Facebook and email we connect with so many of these people almost daily now. And I also get that it's a more "personal" way to connect, but, as you said, the cards rarely feel very personal; no more personal than a status on Facebook or a picture on a blog. I do try to send a card to my grandparents, at least, both because they aren't on Facebook, email, etc., and because I think it means something to them. And I like your idea of sending cards to the kids who are too young to be virtually connected, and who would get a lot of joy out of receiving mail. But overall I haven't felt a need to send cards anymore. To be honest, I receive so few anyway (aside from the doctors, etc.) that I know we are not the only ones that feels that way. I've actually kind of wished to receive more just so I could make a cute Pinterest-inspired display!

    1. Oh, yes, the professional greetings. About as personal as a Mall Santa. I agree that Facebook and e-mail have replaced part of the function of Christmas cards. I guess I'm old enough that I do have friends who either aren't on FB or log on so infrequently that they could miss lots of news.

      I will add that we keep those photo cards and appreciate the time-lapse display we get over a few years. But that's only if there are youngsters in the picture.


What did you think? Any comments?

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