It appears that my "timed" posts haven't gone up as planned, so I am going to make a more conscious effort to get online each day and post myself. So I do apologize to anyone who was looking for the new Countdown to Christmas posts each day, as it appears several posted yesterday and again today. (Don't forget to check out the Pictureka! giveaway).
Today's Countdown to Christmas is yet another Christmas tradition - the Christmas Card! Who do you send a card to? Are you obligated to send someone a card because they sent one to you? Where do you draw the line? Are e-cards acceptable? So many questions and so little time. Here are my suggestions for avoiding Christmas Card burnout.
First - make your lists (again, here I go with the multiple lists thing). Write out all family members first. Then, go through and write out friends, co-workers, church friends, etc. After you have each list made, you can move on to step two.
Step Two: Condense. Are Cousin Billy and Susie away at school right now? Send one family card to Uncle Jack and Aunt Betty and include your cousins. They won't know the difference, and unless you are super close, no need to waste postage. Also - if you are sending cards to someone because you feel indebted, don't. Send cards to those who actually impact your life. This may sound harsh, but your mother's co-worker's daughter, that you met once at a party doesn't need a holiday greeting from you. Seriously.
Step Three: Mail vs. Hand Deliver. While it is absolutely wonderful to open the mailbox and be greeted by something other than a stack of bills, it can be costly. If you regularly see folks, hand deliver their card. This also allows you the opportunity to spread some Christmas Cheer with cookies (just saying, it's a nice touch). The hand delivery is actually preferred in my mind - it means you care about me enough to remember to bring my card with you and not stick it in the mailbox with hundreds of others.
Okay, so we have covered the basics of who to send to and how to deliver. Now what? How about deciding between a physical card and an e-card. In my opinion, you may only send e-cards to people like your cousins in college. They will have a handwritten family card waiting when they get home, but a holiday greeting in their inbox during finals week will definitely bring a smile to their face. E-cards are definitely more cost-effective, but lack the personal touch that a handwritten card (or even a photo card) has.
So obviously, the next MAJOR question is what to write? Keep it simple. That's my motto. Address the card to each family member (list them out - don't say "Smith Family" on the inside of the card - TACKY!). Then, write a small message. The message can be generic ("Here's to a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year") as long as there is a personal message tied into it. My favorite way to do that is write in a Scripture that reminds me of the people I am sending the card to, or a small note, "Can't wait to see you, Billy and the kids on Christmas" or "We will miss you on Christmas, but wish you safe travels". Something short and sweet, yet more than the generic Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.
My final tip for Christmas Card Chaos is to start early. Start writing your cards the week before Thanksgiving and send them in batches. This way, you don't overwhelm your postal worker and you also don't suffer from insane hand cramps.
Those are my tips to managing this most awesome tradition. What are yours?