Is sending greeting cards during the Christmas season just another task on your “to do” list that needs to be checked off as soon as possible, or is it something you actually look forward to?
Why not make each greeting card you send this year stand out to the recipient as an indication that you really care about them; not that you just consider this yearly ritual as one more chore to accomplish before the big day?
Forget about a “one-size fits all” newsletter this year. Instead, determine to write a personal note to each person on your list. After all, if they are important enough to be on your list in the first place, aren’t they worth a few sentences of your time before you scribble a signature, address and stamp the envelope, and drop the card into the mailbox? The way to do this is to start early, and to avoid trying to do it all at once.
1. Send out the same kind of Christmas cards you like to receive.
Do you eagerly rip open an envelope hoping to read a few words from a cherished friend, only to find nothing more than a hastily scrawled signature? Unless you are into measuring your popularity by the number of Christmas cards you receive each year, you probably feel, as I do, that this type of card is the waste of a good stamp. In contrast, how do you feel when you open a card to find even a few sentences reminding you that the person was actually thinking about you when they took a few minutes out of their busy life to write those few words before sending the card?
2. Start by limiting the size of your Christmas card list.
Do you really need to keep sending cards to a neighbor you had 27 years ago and haven’t seen or personally spoken to since they moved away? And what about the former in-laws of your sister’s oldest son? Sure, you met them on the wedding, but how did they get on your Christmas card list anyway. Even more important, how did they stay on it?
Get down to business and chop that list down until it only contains the names of people who are really important in your life. People you care enough about to want to share the happenings of your life with.
3. With your pared down list, gather your cards and writing supplies together.
I like to have a box with my cards, envelopes, address book, and stamps handy so that when I have a free moment or block of time, I can do a few cards at a time. Trying to do all of your cards at one sitting leads to the “signature only” problem I talked about earlier.
Addressing all the cards ahead of time is a good idea though. That way, when you do have a few minutes to work on your cards, you can look at the envelope, think about that particular person, and write a short message, especially designed with them in mind.
4. Give each message a personal touch.
Phrases like, Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, are usually already covered in the verse printed on the card itself, so don’t waste time repeating them. Instead, write something personal, such as, “I heard you took a trip over the summer to Disneyland. How did it go? How about sending us a picture or two?”
Something personal that shows the recipient you are aware of them as more than one of a horde of people on your list is what you need to aim for. If they’ve been sick, mention it and ask how they are doing. If there was a wedding in the family or a new baby has arrived, ask about it. Invite them to visit. Remind them of something you did together in the past. Etc. etc. etc.
5. Avoid long narratives about yourself and your immediate family.
If they are close enough to need to know that information, you have probably already let them know before now. One of the biggest problems with Christmas newsletters is that the writer rambles on and on about what their kids are doing, what they are doing, and what their neighbors are doing. Then they send this letter to everyone on their Christmas card list, which often includes dozens of people who have never met any of the people you are talking about and who couldn’t care less about what they are doing.
Take my word for it, most people are so busy at Christmas time that a few warm thoughts in a Christmas card are much more appreciated than a 3 page detailed newsletter.
Try the tips above and see if you don’t start getting the same type of Christmas cards in return. And don’t just save them for Christmas. The same tips apply to greeting cards sent all year round.