Monday, December 3, 2007

Christmas Cards, Part !

I am in a hotel room, having just finished Day One of the Ridiculously Long New Employee Training. You know, the one that I have No Business Presenting At. It has been a FUN day. First, our university car was available an hour later than it was supposed to be, and then I had to return it to carpool because there were FOUR flat tires. Once that was all straightened out, my co-worker and I decided to take the long, long, long route to C-town because the road and travel map showed the usual, efficient route was closed to any unnecessary travel. We finally arrived at our destination after driving in 65 MPH WINDS for three and a half hours. Just in time to look dishevelled and harried as we started the Ridiculously Long New Employee Training. It's been awesome is what I am saying.

So, on to topics I (and you!) give a shit about!

One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is to send out Christmas cards. I relish this task. The first time A. came over to my house to "talk," my coffee table was completely covered in printed out spreadsheets of the previous and current years Christmas card lists. Complete with columns indicating which card everyone received, so that if I have leftover cards from the previous year I don't accidentally send the same card to the anyone. I thought, "If this doesn't scare the shit out of him, nothing will." Needless to say, that was three years ago.

There are designed address labels that are pretty! and fancy! There are timeline, indicating when the letter needs to be written, printed, folded, stuffed into cards. There are dates on the calendar dedicated to addressadhesion, stamp acquisition. It is nothing less than Operation: Christmas Card.

And I love it.

Last year was the first year I included a Christmas letter. It seemed the easiest way to introduce A. to some of the people in my life, and to share the news of the previous year, (grad school, fishing stories, that sort of stuff). I am sure most people on the receiving end of the letter were bored silly, but I loved writing it and designing a fun layout for the letter and some photos. (A.'s mom is designing a crossword puzzle for her letter; how fun is that! It will be years before I can recycle that idea for my own letters, but the snazzy project idea is yours for the taking!)

Normally, to help finance this venture (I can't seem to whittle the list down to fewer that 130 addresses), I buy my cards a couple of days after Christmas for the next year. (I can usually find great cards for 75% off or so. Awesome! Or, you might think that is cheap and tacky. Whatever.) I found some great cards to send out this year, and I am just tickled to send them out. I mean, I will put this off for a day or two just because the anticipation of Operation: Christmas Cards makes me so damn giddy.

The problem is, I don't know that I can really budget in postage and the cost of printing the letters. It seems kind of lame not to include a letter, what with the precedent-setting missive of last year. With A. in grad school, our budget has had to change a bit. A ridiculous amount of money (almost $200) on Operation: Christmas Card just isn't feasible. (I doubt it is ever right to spend that much money on such a project, but shush. I don't want to hear it!)

Oh, this breaks my heart.

So, do you think it would be okay to send out electronic Christmas Cards (that I'll design myself) to the digitally savvy folks, really whittle down the list this year, and then send out cards to just a handful of folks? Oh, I almost get teary just thinking about it, but I am not sure what else I can do. I am even tempted to ask A. not to buy me a gift, but buy me some postage, instead! Lame, I know.

Oh, but I do love writing Christmas cards! Getting all settled and cozy with a cup of cocoa or glass of wine, the Christmas tree lights twinkling, Christmas music playing, and writing little notes to neighbors from my past, friends on the East Coast that I love and miss every day, family members that I am happy to have grown that much closer to over the course of the last year...

Oh, I do love Christmas cards! Are you crazy for Christmas cards, do you loathe them, or write just a few?

P.S. I won't be near my computer until tomorrow night, but I look forward to your comments. It will make Day Two of the Ridiculously Long New Employee Training go much faster! Happy Tuesday to you!


  1. Wanna do my Christmas cards too? Last year I just didn't send any. I might have sent a few the year before that, but I'm pretty sure they didn't go into the mail until after January 1. I'm so bad about sending cards of any kind.

  2. I don't do Christmas cards, but that's mainly because I have a horrible time keeping track of people's addresses. Also, I suck. However, if it gives you so much pleasure, I say find a way to do it if you can . . . keeping in touch with people is something that it very important, and this is a wonderful way to keep it up. But I understand the cost is a lot, and with your skills at design, I'm sure everyone would be please as can be to get a personally designed electronic card.

  3. I like to send cards too, but over the years it has become a real task. I don't include a letter, because I GET so many letters that I feel like it's a chain-letter game. Instead, I write something brief and personal about them instead of us (How's the new house/baby/dog? or did Z. decide whether to go to grad school or not?). Short and sweet.

    I agree that postage is killer. You could do postcards (which is how most Victorian cards were made) and that would be something you could bo at home and run off on your printer. Cheaper postage.

    I'm going o=to do postcards myself this year and am looking forward to it!

  4. You have 130 addresses!? I have maybe 12! So needless to say, I don't do a Christmas letter because most of the people I send them to I talk to all the time anyhow. I love your color-coded spreadsheet though. And buying your Christmas cards after Christmas is so not tacky - it is SMART!

  5. Not only do I love sending Christmas cards, I love RECEIVING them. I see them in the mailbox and I am happy. I put them up around a doorway and I look at them and I am happy.

    Last year I got several electronic cards and I was unhappy. Can't bring them in with the mail! Can't put them up on the wall! Sad.

    Can you do it but spend less than $1.50 a card? The stamp is $.41; that can't be changed, so that's $54 for 130 cards--but there are plenty of decent cards for cheap. And you have the cards already, bought on clearance last year? Don't do letters just because you did last year. Or print them on regular solid red or green paper, that would only be a few dollars. Or email the letter part, but mail the cards.

    I get 75% off cards too! I have a whole bunch and can't wait to choose which ones I'm sending this year.

  6. I love sending Christmas cards, usually, but I am taking this year "off". One, I can get away with it, as I hope no one is really expecting one and I just got done with hundreds of thank yous not to long ago with some still going out here and there for the little nice things people have done for me. I used to send Christmas cards to Everyone. My husband would get upset that I sent one to everyone he worked with (his company made a list of addresses every year), because he didn't want to send Christmas cards to one of the fools he worked with. It used to be that I would need an Excel sheet to keep it all straight. And 75% off? I am with you on that. It's goofy to spend full price when you know in a month the cards you like will be cut to bargain rates. I used to be a sucker for the variety packs...but they've gotten a little cheap looking in the past few years. Moving along...but hey,I'm giving you something to read in your room, Christmas cards and how to send them, are the decision of the sender. If you feel your efforts on an internet card will be appreciated, then do it.

  7. FOUR flat tires? HOW?

    This seems so important to you, so I hope you find a way to do it. Like many people, I love getting cards but hate sending them. I would be a person who wouldn't be disappointed with an electronic card, but it IS fun to get mail. Maybe, like Swistle said, you could just go super-cheap on the paper/envelopes and use clip art, etc.?

  8. FOUR flat tires? How is that even possible?

    Anyway, on the card thing--I was thinking maybe this year we would send them out, and so I started making a list and got kind of daunted. Then I asked Torsten if he thought we should send out cards and he stared at me like I was crazy for even suggesting it. So I guess we won't be doing it. Which is really for the better, I think. We wouldn't want to set up expectations for next year.

  9. How appropos! Wrote about this very subject the other day, a day or so before this entry.

    Summary of post: No cards this year. Too much work with too little return.

  10. oh, you definitely need to, if you like them this much!!

    i'm with swistle - can you manage just the cost of stamps? because screw the letter (or email just that part if you'd like).. but eat ramen for 3 nights instead of dinner if that will offset the stamp cost ;-)

    personally, i'm astounded you like it so much! i.. uh.. occasionally send out cards. like maybe every other year. ish.

  11. Four flat tires is unacceptable!

    I love that you have a spread sheet. That makes me happy. I love sending Christmas cards too, but I make my own so only a hand full of special folks get one.
    I think that some people would be OK with the digital and some would want printed. I bet you know who wouldn't mind the digital card. And they'll understand - grad school is expensive!

  12. I am so bad with cards. I usually get inspired mid-December (as cards that get sent to me pile up), but I cringe at the thought of addressing them, writing in them... all of it really.

    I like the idea of emailing the letter and mailing out the cards.

  13. OK, I think the e-cards would be cool. However, I see Swistle's points as well. How about a Christmas postcard? Cheaper postage and you can print them yourself. I know, I know. But it's an idea.

    Or you could do something humanity-loving and make a donation to a charity. Then send out e-cards and let everyone know that in lieu of spending money on lots of cards and postage this year, you've made a donation in honor of all of your friends.

  14. This year, we just did a photo card from our wedding and it was SO MUCH easier. I felt vaguely guilty about not writing anything personal, but I got over it pretty quickly.

    I like the postcard suggestion; it lets you still be creative and personal while also saving some dough.

  15. I do like receiving Christmas cards, especially ones with photos and/or letters, and ones with personal notes are also much appreciated.

    though holiday letters are much maligned as brag sheets that bore people to tears, I still like to write them and receive them.

    It's actually doing it that I am terrible at! I just don't seem to get around to it soon enough...

  16. I so much love getting cards in the mail! it just seems so nice and sweet and thoughtful. And I do like to send them but... I just never seem to get around to it.
    What I should do is pay you to do my cards! I could send my list and write up a little blurb to each and you could proofread it, print it out on some nice scripty sort of thing and include a general letter to all. I think we're on to something here! Just run a budget, add 15% as your take and you got yourself a cottage business.


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