I Just Can’t: Christmas Cards

A few years ago, I got on my soapbox on social media about Christmas cards, and I’ve never really lived it down. This was of course before kids. Now I’m way too busy making sure my 2 year old doesn’t climb on the counter to “pour” me a cup of coffee into a wine glass to worry about what other adults do. But, I digress. I was bemoaning the fact that out of the over 150 holiday cards I received, only three of them were signed personally. I dug in my heels and got into a comment war on a post that didn’t end until somebody using the C word and once that word is said, you can’t exactly gracefully retort (Cancer, not the other word, get your minds out of the gutter.)

Now acutely aware of the amount of time and effort that goes into signing and writing a note on each and every holiday card, I still feel the same way I did all those years ago. I wish I could tell you that I’ve changed my mind, but my friend Emily still signs her card to me every year with a note basically saying she’s afraid to be on my shit-list. Close friends know that this remains my soapbox….and it’s only getting taller.

I think that my strong feelings on the subject really get at the heart of how I’m currently feeling about holiday cards. Here’s how this goes every year:

  1. Shop for months for outfits for children that don’t cost a million dollars, reflect timeless style and will somehow “go” without “matching”
  2. Hire photographer and choose location that hasn’t been used before by anyone I know, or by me
  3. Block a Saturday during the busiest time of year
  4. Wake up family at an ungodly hour. Bribe children relentlessly with leftover Halloween candy so that they will wear the outfits.
  5. Choose husband’s outfit. Ignore eye rolling.
  6. Choose my own outfit. Note: this usually happens less than an hour before we leave the house because during the whole process I never stop to consider what I will wear.
  7. Endure family photos. If you’re lucky, these are fun; we’ve gotten really lucky in recent years and we’ve chosen photographers who we adore being around. I always order a canvas of our holiday photos, so this part of the process is totally worthwhile, but for me, it’s more fun to do it during a less crazy time of year.
  8. Shop for cards. Sift through the hundreds of deals offered during the holidays. Put them in the cart 4x and then freak out at the price and start over another day.
  9. Time ticks. Ticking. Ticking. It’s December 15th at this point if I’m lucky
  10. Update contacts in my address book. Discuss who has moved. Because we are in the military and we know a lot of folks in the military, this is usually 1/3 of our list. Text folks for addresses. Nag the husband to do the same. End up having some good catch ups with friends that were much needed.
  11. Ask husband to mail merge because, toddlers, and print the address labels.
  12. Finally take the plunge and order cards. Cringe when I give my credit card.
  13. Cards come. For the next 11 nights, we will each take our stack, label them with addresses and sign and write personal notes. At this point its basically Christmas Eve. Husband makes fun of my handwriting. Most people get notes that say “hope to see you in 2019” which is totally sincere and the whole reason I keep up this whole charade.
  14. Post photos to Facebook. Who can resist this step? Just got photosssss back bitches. Outfits “go” and don’t “match” – gotta share. So many poses. Must share. Please like. And love. And fireworks.
  15. Drop major cash on stamps. Seriously – nothing makes me feel older than seeing how much stamps cost in 2018.
  16. Stamp these MF cards. Mail them. Must drive around and drop them in multiple mailboxes because there are so many.
  17. Never hear anything. From anyone. And Scene.

This is how it feels to me. Now, the reality is that many of you love receiving cards. You have elaborate gorgeous set-ups to display them and some of you even keep these little works of art up all year long. I know they are enjoyed by many of you, and I hope that my terrible handwritten note means something.

I just can’t help thinking about how this time, money, effort could be better spent. Rather than co-signing cards, I would rather be beating my husband at Scrabble in front of a fire. Rather than posing for photos, I’d rather be shopping for our Adopt-a-Family or spending the morning outside to counteract the zillions of holiday calories. There are upsides to family photos, upsides to an annual communication to your mailing list, but I’ve totally lost the joy this year, and I’m not sure I can go through with it, readers.

Maybe it’s the Minimalism Bug. Maybe its the cost of postage. Maybe its the fact that everything feels so transparent on Facebook. Maybe I want my $500+ back. This year, I’m driven to change the paradigm around holiday cards.

So, I have decided to try something. We’ll call this a pilot program. if you’re on our list this year, you’ll be getting an email from me with our new address and a simple question – do you want to receive a holiday card from our family?  I am going to print a handful of our stunning family photos (stay tuned for a post about these) using Social Print Studio. They make it so easy to love them with their adorable square prints and easy ordering app. The upside to ordering these is that I can use them throughout the year. I usually keep a dozen or so prints on hand of the kids, and I include them in thank you notes throughout the year.  If a holiday card with a photo is something you cherish, nothing would make me happier than dropping one in the mail with a handwritten card. It may take me until February, but hey, that’s life. I would rather send 15-20 cards with intention than blanket my mailing list this year.

I realize that this will be controversial. Still, I want the world to know that I will love receiving a holiday card from you if it brings you joy to send one to me, or if it’s a tradition that is special to you. I’ll open each one with joy, show them to the kids at night, tell a funny story about that one time I beat you in a push-up contest, and display them until New Years Day.  I wish I was the sentimental kind when it comes to cards and paper, but I’ve learned after years of saving things that I rarely look back at such items. My kids routinely find their art in the trashcan and pick it out and approach me tearily, so please don’t take it personally that your card will only be displayed for a few weeks.

I’m going to try something new, and see how it makes me feel. Maybe I’ll hear from more folks this year that they really missed our card. We will see what happens with this experiment. In the end, I’m writing this to say that I hope that the act of sending your holiday cards (or not sending them, or sending an email, or whatever your tradition maybe) brings you joy. I simply can’t pretend that mine do anymore.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on the Facebook page – what do you love about this tradition? What do you hate? I promise no comment wars. 

6 thoughts on “I Just Can’t: Christmas Cards

  1. I have found that what brings me sanity is an every-other-year card. The kids have grown and changed (we have hopefully not grown) and we need an updated family pic. I, too, have altered what I thought was necessary in a pre-kids life. Here’s what I’ve taken a shortcut on: 1) printing address labels – I used to to that by hand on purpose 2) signing – I’ll do more of that this year because of your nudging and 3) sending to every person I’ve ever known in the history of time.
    I think whatever you figure out that works for you is WONDERFUL! You spread joy where you go- no matter what- and I’m sure especially with cards. Im so thankful for multiple ways to keep in touch with family and friends now and I also love keeping up the tradition of Christmas cards to show our love to others. (Matching outfits show nothing but love. 😘)


  2. Not sure what year that was, but I would have been one of the three! I love your card every year, but if it’s more stress for you (which I get!) then that’s what I care more about. Do what’s best for you! I’ll continue to enjoy your online beautifulness 🙂 Bisous BP


  3. I’m culling a bunch of people from my list this year. We receive waaaaay less than we send, and I’m in a grump about it. If people want cards, they need to send them too.
    Last year, signing our 100 or so took about 7 days, because all 3 of us hand signed, and a not-quite-5-year-old can only do so many at a time. Definitely printed labels. But I’m with you on the hand signing, though I’d rather have a non-hand-signed card than none at all.

    So, I am totally going to purge my list this year, cheaper and less frustrating, while still doing the nice thing. No family photo shoot, using photos from during the year. I’m trying to avoid the self imposed pressure to be a pinterest perfect mom.


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