Will you be sending out some sort of holiday correspondence this year? Now is a great time to get the ball rolling.
As you ponder the holiday correspondence issue, first decide whether you want to do anything at all. Does sending holiday cards create more stress in your life than it brings joy? Do you send cards only because you always have and feel like it’s something you should do? If so, release the guilt, call up your close family and friends to extend warm holiday wishes, and leave it at that! My guess is that you will not have others judging you because you did not send a traditional card. The truth of the matter is, some won’t notice, and those that do, probably won’t feel as if you’re neglecting them, only that you chose not to send cards this year. Some may even applaud your efforts to choose how you’re spending your time and make decisions that can feel hard at first. For what it’s worth, you have my permission to not send cards (because some people just need permission).
If you do decide to send out some holiday correspondence, there are a number of options available to you. Follow these steps to ensure you reach those you want to, when you want to, and deliver the message of holiday cheer on your terms.
Create a list. Will you send cards to just those you are close with or take the holiday season as an opportunity to stay in touch with lots of people you’ve known over the years? Some people will reach out to those they haven’t corresponded with in a while and know that at least once a year, they stay in touch. Perhaps with some of the newer social media tools and e-mail, you’re doing that in other ways and just want to give holiday wishes to loved ones. You choose.
Decide what you’ll send and what it will include. Consider the size and make-up of the list you just created. Will you send everyone the same thing or split your list and extend greetings in various ways?
Will you send a physical card? Will it include a photo? Will you write a hand-written note? If so, there are many options available to you. You can pick them up yourself at the store, order them online and they’ll be sent to you to personalize and mail out, or there are even services, such as Send-Out Cards where you can create your card online (it’s even possible for them to use your handwriting as the script) and it will be mailed for you (a real card, in a real envelope, with a real stamp) directly to the recipient.
Prefer to send an e-card? This can be an easy, fast, environmentally friendly and economical way to go. Many sites are available to help you create a card, upload a photo, select music or animation, personalize your message, input your contacts’ e-mail addresses and push send. They will receive an e-mail with a link to their card.
Whatever kind of card you select, don’t forget to include what you want in the card. Send it as is, write a personal message, include a “holiday letter,” a photo, or even a gift-card. Print address labels from your computer contact base or address the envelope by hand, add a stamp, a return address label and you’re ready to go.
Pick a date to send your cards. There are many options to spread good wishes. Thanksgiving to express your appreciation, Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza to offer holiday cheer or the New Year to let people know you’ll be thinking of them into 2009. Work backward from the date you’d like to mail your cards to determine when you need to buy, order, personalize, prepare and mail them. Spread out the work so the task doesn’t feel so daunting. For example, if you are going to hand-write brief personal notes, do a few each night throughout the next several weeks. Ask someone to help you with part of the process if that’s an option. Kids of all almost all ages can apply stamps, labels, or lick envelopes. Older kids who are computer-savvy may be able to help you with a mail merge to prepare your mailing labels. Break this project down and share, or, spread out the steps so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Have a plan to enjoy cards you receive. Again, options here. Enjoy the card in the moment you receive it, think fondly of the sender and then let the card go (trash or recycle). Alternately, you can find a way to keep and display the cards - a pretty basket, a bulletin board, or a decorative card holder intended to show off the cards and photos and allow you to enjoy them for the season. When the season is over, either toss the cards at that point, add the most special ones to a scrapbook or memorabilia box, give them to kids to use for crafts, or keep a select few to use as decoration for next year, before you receive a new batch of cards.
Whatever choices you make around holiday correspondence may they sincerely bring you peace, comfort and joy.
Sammamish resident Debbie Rosemont is the founder of Simply Placed, and a certified professional organizer and productivity consultant. Simply Placed helps people get organized so they can save time and enjoy life. Call 206-579-5743 or visit www.itssimplyplaced.com.