The Christmas Card Game: Surviving December, Part Two

photo courtesy of dreamstime.com

For those who have not yet read my last post, I’m doing a three-part series this month on how to unmute yourself from the anxiety that the holiday season can sometimes cause, like instead of joining in the fun of decorating the house, you’re doubled over your computer screen trying to find the perfect present for (insert any family member’s name here). How do you still carve out time for yourself to make sure you also have a good holiday? Last time I talked about presents and explained the less (presents to buy) equals more (time saved for yourself) equation. Today I tackle Christmas cards, though if you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule, you may still find these pearls of wisdom helpful.

I remember one year I mailed all my Christmas cards the day before Thanksgiving so my card would be one of the first people received, and they would think “wow, Dorian is SO on top of things!” (I actually, for real, had that thought. *shudder*) Fast forward a decade; I’d moved on from buying commercial cards and had started designing my own that I would print at home and mail. One particular year, I had the card ready to print but my printer was broken. I tried the obvious easy fixes—paper tray too full, paper jams, full ink cartridges, etc.—but still no go. Fixing it beyond that was going to be too much for me at the time with my working a full-time job outside the home and my then 10-month-old son, and I was starting to panic until I realized: I could send it electronically via email. And, voila! A brand-new, ultra-freeing tradition was born.

There are many upsides to designing your own card and sending it electronically, the main ones being:

  1. There are no physical cards so there is less trash produced. I consciously recycle but some people still do not, so the majority of Christmas cards end up in landfills, becoming literal wastes.
  2. You do not have to spend time looking for the perfect card because you can make it exactly how you want it to be! I’m a creative person who is savvy with photography, Photoshop and Illustrator, and I have fun with creating our yearly greeting, but I still use the same main border and color template so the only thing I have to change is the picture (which I usually take) and the year. This makes it super easy for me to create the card every year. Even if you don’t know how to use those computer programs, you can create a really nice “card” with Word using Clip Art and any other royalty-free images from the web you want to include if you don’t already have a family photo you want to feature. Or, if you’re getting anxiety just thinking about sitting at a computer to do something creative, you can always pay someone to design your card for you then send it on your own, which brings me to….
  3. You can send it whenever it is most convenient for you. At the time of this post, there are seven days left until Christmas Day. We had our backyard photo shoot a few weeks ago but I still have yet to drop it in the template and do some Photoshop magic on it. Why am I delaying? Because I can! I plan on putting the pieces together this coming weekend, finalizing it and giving it a few tweaks next Monday, then emailing it on Christmas Eve morning from the comfort of my den while I sit next to a roaring fire. That sounds like so much more fun to me than having to go out in the cold to mail Christmas cards. And last year, due to unforeseen circumstances, our Merry Christmas card turned into a Happy New Year card that I sent at the end of January, which was just fine with me because that’s when I had the time to work on it and send it. Speaking of avoiding the post office at Christmastime brings me to my next upside….
  4. You do not have to buy postage. I repeat: no stamps to buy. A first-class postage stamp for a one-ounce letter is now 55 cents. If you have a sizable number of people on your list that you want to send your card to, those dollars are going to add up really fast. I know of people who have shortened their Christmas card sending list for this reason alone. It costs no money to send an email, so you can send your electronic greeting to 10 people or 100 people and the cost will still be the same—free ninety-nine.

As for downsides to sending your Christmas cards electronically, I can only think of one: you may get fewer physical cards in return. I have some friends I no longer receive Christmas cards from (though I still send them an e-card every year), and I’m okay with this. I know some people play the “they didn’t send me a card last year so I’m not sending them one this year” game, but who has time to keep track of all that, and does it really matter? The point of sending Christmas cards is to greet people you possibly haven’t seen all year and let them know you’re thinking of them, not sending them out just to get a card back from all those people. At least that’s how I roll. And quite honestly, since some people use their Christmas cards as an opportunity to write a “short update” that resembles a novella of 10-point typed font, I’m okay with receiving less. *but you didn’t hear that from me*

Seeing how there is just one week before the big day, if you’re a paper-card-in-the-mail sender your cards have probably already been sent. In that case, I hope you bookmark this post for next year if you’re contemplating going paperless for your greeting cards. If you’re going to go paperless this year (of if you already have) tell me about it! Send me a picture of your fancy “look mom I did it myself” card. And of course, stay tuned for part three of this series coming before the end of the year where I tackle another familiar holiday stress-inducer and show you how to completely unmute from it.

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