Over the past few years, I have developed a strategy for writing and sending Christmas cards. It's a carefully devised plan to make efficient use of time by streamlining who gets a card, who gets a photo and who gets a personalised note, and who gets a more elaborate letter.
Here it is.
- Make sure I have an ample supply of cards left over from at least two Christmases ago so I can avoid sending the same card to somebody two years in a row.
- Arrange to have one of our family or at least children pictures developed into small, wallet-sized photos. I personally never really know what to do with the photos of my friends' children, so I figure, as long as the photo is small, people can feel less guilty about tossing it or "accidentally" recycling it. And if they do decide to keep it, at least it doesn't take up too much room.
- Begin working alphabetically through my old-fashioned address book that I've had since high school. If I don't have a mailing address or I won't be seeing someone in person, they won't be getting a card.
- Try to be sensitive about the nature of the greeting and image on the card so that I avoid sending "Merry Christmas" to friends who are Jewish, or overtly religious cards to those who are agnostic.
- Cards will not be written for those I haven't seen or heard from in a personal way in the past three years.
- Facebook-only friends with no other personal interaction do not routinely qualify for a Christmas card.
- If I have regular, personal (email communication included) interaction with someone, they will get a card and a photo (unless it is a business relationship), with a personalised greeting.
- Extended family, even - maybe especially - if I don't see them very often, will always get a card and a family photo. But if I feel that they receive regular updates on my life from my parents or siblings, I may omit the personal note.
- Good friends will receive a card and photo and a personal note, unless I will be seeing them over the holidays, in which case the personal note may be omitted.
- For friends on Facebook, whom I assume are relatively current on my life from somewhat regular status updates and photos, the personal note may be omitted.
- For special relatives and old friends, with whom I only really keep in touch at Christmas, the personalised note may become a more detailed summary of my year.
- The personal note, is exactly that - personal. I do not write "Christmas letters". It is because I short- list the cards which include more detailed notes and letters that I am able to keep my cards personal.
- Have Christmas cards sent by December 20th. If I can't meet this deadline, chances are I won't send them at all. Like last year. Although I think it's a great idea, I'm not sure how many others would appreciate a New Year's card. And besides, if we're being honest, any motivation for writing cards has pretty much disappeared after the 25th.