Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas Cards, Holiday Letters or Not?

I set up my first household in 1978 and that December I was thrilled to send out our first Christmas cards.  I remember visiting the Hallmark Store, we had 2 in our town then, none now, so sad.  I purchased a booklet that let me keep track for 5 or 10 years who I sent cards to while noting their address.  My organizing instinct set in at that time because I remember when I added contacts to my book I'd write their name in ink pen but I'd write their address and phone number in pencil. So much easier to change than using liquid wite-out, yes that was how long ago it was.  I also remember having a Rolodex in my mind, I could tell you any one's phone number that I used frequently, now I'm lucky if I can remember MY cell number.  My how times have changed. No more little black books, Rolodex or phone books either.  But oh how convenient to be able to keep my contacts with phone numbers, addresses, email addresses and any other notes right on our smart phones.

You can do the same with your home computer, tablet, etc and I suggest that you start there with your annual list of recipients for your holiday cards or letters. Keeping a data base on your computer is as easy as an Excel spreadsheet or a Word data list.  Easy to change, easy to merge, easy to print and easy to make labels.  Yes, labels!  If you have a large number of people you keep in touch with by all means use labels.  Corporations and companies do, small businesses do, and even though I'm sure it's an appalling thought to the Etiquette mavens, the time you save will be enormous.  And quite frankly I've never thought the pre-made Christmas cards with the printed family greeting and name was personal either and people use those all the time. With all the decorative fonts available online you don't have to use the everyday Ariel or Courier.  Get creative with not only the address labels but also your return address labels.  Here are links to some of my favorite free fonts.

Pansy Cottage's Font-astic board

22 Free Holiday Fonts from That's What {Che} Said

Favorite Christmas Fonts & Graphics from Lil' Luna

Free Christmas Fonts from honeybearlane

Festive and Free Christmas Fonts from Over the Big Moon

The first link is my own Pinterest font board, the other four are links to the Pin for that specific blog post.  If you don't want to use Christmas style fonts I have pinned dozens of links to all kinds of fonts. There are some very pretty "handwriting" fonts out there.  If you use these to create your labels and hand write the card inside no one will fault you for using labels I'm sure. If you'd rather have handwritten envelopes then use the computer data base as a print out list to keep track of the cards you've sent.

Now to the cards . . . I was always one of those people who would shop the day after Christmas for next year's cards, wrapping, bows, anything that would make the next holiday season less expensive and easier on me. I still think that is a good idea if you have the time and energy.  But here are some ideas for alternative resources for your holiday cards.

  • Check your local craft mart.  We have an antique store with a craft booth store beside it. Many times you can find handmade cards at the booths in one of these permanent store fronts.
  • Holiday Bazaars or Craft Fairs - check the paper and local online calendars for any craft/handmade shows in your area.  Many times there are very creative people with sets of cards ready for your purchase.
  • Check with your local Close to My Heart consultant. Yes, this is a plug for my business. Pansy Cottage CTMH website There are a couple of direct sales paper crafting companies that have consultants all over the country.  Most of them would be thrilled to get a special order or may have sets already made to sell.  OR they can set you up with a home class and you can make your own cards.  It's really not a daunting task if you like to create. There are papers, rubber stamps and embellishments made especially for the occasion.
  • Online handmade resources are: Bonanza Etsy Zibbet ArtFire
  • Check with your local craft or decorating stores, they may have classes or sets ready to sell.  Please use the locally owned stores if they are available in your area.  Small business in my opinion is the back bone of this country right now for so many female entrepreneurs, they need all the support we can give them.
  • Check with the local big name craft stores such as JoAnns, Michaels Archivers and Hobby Lobby.  They may have classes ready for you to create your own.
  • Some of these resources also have Gift Card holders available that are a little more special than your regular envelope.
Your have a little over 6 weeks until the big day. If you can take a few hours in the evening or on the next few Saturdays your list can be finished up in plenty of time.  Don't think you have to mail ALL of them at the same time. As you create and/or address them, mail them out as they are done. This spreads the task over a few days or weeks and won't seem as bad as setting down for one long session. Set goals by the alphabet to complete them in groups. Also be sure to add anyone new to your list that your receive a card from this year.

If you are doing a family letter try keeping it to one or two pages. Hit on the high points of the year and remember to include any pictures you might want to share with family or friends.

Again in order to enjoy this time of year and not make more stress in your life, fore go the cards all together, and feel no guilt.  Maybe a nice phone call, FaceTime or Skype is in order and would be enjoyed just as well.