Despite the overall reduction in personal correspondence and mail in general, during the holiday season mail delivery is up. From Thanksgiving to Christmas in 2009, the United States Postal Service expected to deliver over 16.5 billion pieces of mail1. Will your Christmas cards be among their holiday onslaught this year? Here are some great ways to send some holiday cheer:
Homemade Cards – Although making all of your cards is a laborious task, it does not have to be a dull one. Mix up some hot cocoa. Turn on some Christmas music; maybe even include the family or some friends in the creation process. If you choose this method though, consider these caveats. One, handmade cards can take a long time to put together. Keep your plan simple and easily repeatable especially if you plan to do any volume of cards. Two, do not include glitter if you plan to mail the cards. The USPS prohibits liquids, powders, or odor producing materials2 ; and unfortunately, your beautiful shimmery glitter could be perceived as a danger if it leaked out of your envelope. Also, consider the size, weight, and bulk of your card. Check the USPS requirements for mailing before committing to your design.
Purchased Cards – Certainly you can purchase commercial Christmas cards too. You can find cards at the drug store or in most general stores, but you may want to consider cards made by your favorite non-profit. Not only will these cards bring cheer to the recipient, they will help to fund a worthy cause. You can check with your favorite non-profit to see what they offer, or you can check out CardsThatGive.org which lists a variety of non-profits that offer Christmas cards. This website also lists if the card is printed on recycled stock, advises you the percent of money that the non-profit will receive from your purchase, and alerts you if a portion of your donation is tax deductible.
E-Cards – E-cards are also very popular. While I am a fan of them for other holidays, I still enjoy receiving and sending Christmas cards through the mail. I also enjoy posting them around the house as almost a Christmas decoration of their own. However, if you prefer this, perhaps greener way, to send holiday cheer, check out 123Greetings.com, AmericanGreetings.com, or Hallmark.com. Some of the non-profits on CardsThatGive.org also have the capacity to send e-cards.
Photo Cards – You can spend all non-holiday months working on this project. The hardest part is just getting the family photo. Some families choose a casual photo or pictures of just the kids, but I am partial to the whole family shot. If during the year you get into the habit of taking family shots whenever you take a trip or get together, then you will find that by Christmas you will have an abundance to choose from. If you can’t quite get that perfect shot or prefer a photo sitting, consider the following hints published by Hewlett-Packard on their website:
– -Use a solid colored background
– – Dress in the same color palette
– – Dress in bright solid colors
– -Don’t wear too many accessories
– – Stick your chin out a bit to avoid a double chin
Some websites include the ability to edit, alter, and embellish you photographs like picnik.com . If you would like a photo card but don’t have either the interest or ability to play photographer and editor then a traditional photo studio maybe more up your alley, but you will pay for their experience.
Newsletters – A slightly different format for Christmas cards is the newsletter. Some people add a newsletter to one of the other formats we mentioned prior. But some have been elevating newsletter cards to a new level. A combination of scrapbook page / personal essay, these newsletter cards show and tell your friends about your year. The proliferation of desktop publishing programs has made them easy to create. If you are not computer savvy, you do not need to avoid this format. Create your page by hand and then use a copier to make the multiple copies needed. Done well, a newsletter does not need a card also.
Postcards – Another newer format is the postcard. Postcards appear similar to the traditional card, but just don’t open. They can be fashioned or purchased like a traditional Christmas card. It is very easy to turn your photo card into this postcard style card. Postcards have become popular as mail prices have gone up.
No matter how you create your card, I just suggest that you take the time and do it. I do not believe that I am alone in enjoying my mailbox full of Christmas cards. Christmas cards are one of the vestiges of a bygone era that we shouldn’t let lapse. Too often we get caught up in work and responsibilities and in the process we lose touch with old friends. Christmas cards are one of the ways to stop that loss and to let those you love know that you are thinking about them.
1 – www.usps.com – Postal News dated December 2, 2009
2 – www.usps.com – mailing standards of the USPS, publication 52 – Hazardous, restricted, and perishable materials – written Jan 2008 and updated 3-11-10