‘Tis the Season! Yep, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas and holiday greeting cards. Before you tell me to take a flying leap off Santa’s sleigh, think how festive yule feel when one of the biggest to-do’s of the season is crossed off your list. If you have never sent a Christmas greeting card, why not make this the year to start? With very few items of interest falling through my mail slot these days, I look forward to each Christmas season as Wilburt, my letter carrier, delivers each day’s bounty of Christmas cheer. Why not organize yourself now to create and send festive cards later that your friends and family will treasure.
Decide what type of card to send
There are two types of cards: Photo cards and Greeting Cards (without the photo). If you like to send a Greeting card, you can scroll to Review your address list.
Choosing a type of photo card
There are more choices for photo cards than cable-tv channels, and you get what you pay for. I think I’ve done them all:
The photo and greeting printed on photo paper; usually the least expensive option. Available from Costo, Target or local drugstore to name a few.
The home-made card. Not as cost-effective as you might think.
Store-bought boxed cards for sliding in your photo, with pre-printed greeting. Fast, easy and still personal with the photo.
High-quality digital cards with customized greeting.
Customized card to which you adhere your photo. This option gives you the most choices for color, texture, font and greeting.
Once you decide what type of card to send, because you are starting early enough, you can shop around to find the right combination of price and quality to meet your needs. I prefer working with a stationer, but there are several online sites such as
A few families I know order the same photo card every year, and just add the new photo from year to year. Now that’s keeping it simple!
Picking a photo
- If you have a photo, pat yourself on the back and pour yourself a Santa Tini. If it’s a printed photo that you adhere to a photo card or enclose in a greeting card, get the photo printed. You have time to watch for sales at your favorite photo printer. If your photo is digital, make any enhancement or corrections to it and save it where you know to find it on your computer.
- If you don’t have a photo, think about upcoming events or venues for a photo shoot of your loved ones. Plan for it. For some, this can be a very stressful situation – getting the photo op or photo where everyone is happy with the outcome.
TIP: If want to take advantage of an early-season sale on cards but don’t have a photo and worry your card won’t match your photo, pose your family in front of green hedges, shrubs or trees. All greens go together, so if your photo has green, then buy a card that has green on it (very likely given the dominance of green/red at Christmas), to which you attach a photo. I’ve done this a few times, and recommended it to several people. It works.
Review your address list
For years I would simply put a check beside each name in my trusty address book, but a few years ago I got motivated to put the names and addresses in a spreadsheet. The time investment pays for itself year after year, plus it’s easy to estimate the quantity of cards needed each time I order.
Order your cards
Be sure to add to your quantity in case a few names crop up ~ this always happens to me. Be sure to order extra envelopes for the inevitable addressing snafus. Whether you decide to use an online vendor or a stationer, it is essential for you to PROOF your card and, if possible, get another set of eyes to look at the proof as well. Sometimes you can’t see the mistake or omission because you are too close to the process.
Think about the return address for your envelope. It’s an option that most vendors provide, but it does increase the cost of your card. Some vendors produce companion return address labels for their cards which are often less expensive than a printed return address, or you may have your own embosser, stamp or labels. Of course the least expensive route is to hand-write your return address, but that really is a “pain in the toe”, to quote posse pal dNz.
Finish the job: address, stuff, stamp and seal
This is the second-most stressful part of the process (behind the photo selection). Try to have fun with it! Posse pal aMl has an annual card party to give her friends festive girlfriend-time and get some or part of the stuff, stamp, seal, address process accomplished. It wouldn’t be Christmas without this party.
Get your stamps. It’s fun to use a special stamp, but sometimes I’ve had to order the stamps from usps.com in order to get the quantity I need of the stamp I want. Below is a schedule of when the holiday stamps become available.• October, Poinsettia Christmas Contemporary Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA booklet of 20 • October, International Christmas Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA pane of 20 • October, Christmas Traditional Forever 10 designs, Date & Site TBD, PSA booklet of 20 • October, Holy Family Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA pane of 20 • November, Hanukkah Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA pane of 20 • November, Gingerbread Houses Christmas Contemporary Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA booklet of 20 • November, Harry Potter Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA pane of 20 • December, Kwanzaa Forever, Date & Site TBD, PSA pane of 20
Tip: address your envelopes first. If you make a mistake, you won’t have wasted effort on stuffing, sealing or stamping. Some prefer to produce mailing labels to save time and reduce addressing errors.
Some folks sign their cards, which I think is nice, and some even include a small note or Christmas letter. Those are all special touches, but don’t let them stand in your way of sending the cards.
Don’t have the time to finish the task? Consider paying to have it done; there are usually people willing and able to pick up this odd job to bring in extra Christmas cash. Be sure to request a sample of their handwriting if you want the addresses written in longhand. Otherwise, if the person is savvy with a spreadsheet and labels, go that route. Many of the online sites offer services to address, stuff, stamp, seal and mail your cards all at the click of a button or two. Read this review for more information.
Now that you have your act together for sending Christmas cards this year, look for The Gracious Posse tomorrow to inspire your inner elf with gift-giving ideas.
July 24, 2013