By Jaimi Erickson
It was taking much longer than expected to receive our family pictures from the photographer. With shipping estimates as they were, I knew it was crunch time or else I was not going to get our Christmas cards out in time.
For years, the Christmas card process was something I scheduled time for right after Thanksgiving. We decorated the house, and I got our photo Christmas card ordered. It was on my calendar every year. Now, it is a holiday task that gets pushed aside.
Why We Scramble to Send Out Cards
It is fun to send the latest updates of our family to the friends and relatives we do not see often. Military life is hard with the long-distance nature of pretty much all of our close relationships.
As we receive Christmas cards in the mail, it is always exciting to see how everyone is doing. I even display the cards we receive as part of our holiday décor. We enjoy the card display through New Year’s Day.
In my current season of life, with homeschooling and working at home, I feel like I have to scramble to get Christmas cards mailed out on time. This year, I am giving myself an excuse to send out an alternative holiday greeting. My desire to mail out physical Christmas cards is not as strong this year.
The expense alone is something to consider. It takes time to gather pictures, design your card, and update addresses. Then you have to send everything out in time.
Because I am on the fence about sending physical cards this year, I decided to research other options. There are creative ways to still participate in the greeting card season. After all, since I get joy from receiving cards, I want to let others know we love them and think of them too. It is all about spreading kindness and joy after all.
Alternatives to the Christmas Card Scramble
These are some alternatives we are considering. They are unique ideas to ease the rushed feeling during the holidays.
So many of us use photo Christmas cards as a nice way to update friends and family on the little things like, for example, that your child is indeed taller than you now. We all enjoy pictures and the connection they give us to our loved ones. Combine that photo idea into gifts instead.
For people on your gift list, try making a personalized photo gift like a mug, puzzle, or ornament. Spouse-ly is a great marketplace to browse. All of the vendors are military spouses and spouses of first responders.
Collage on Social Media
It is so easy even for the non-photographer/graphic designer to create a photo collage. Then you can plaster it on all your social media as a holiday greeting that costs you nothing and takes no time to ship.
Use one of the free photo editing apps or websites. I use PicMonkey, but I have used an Adobe app in the past as well. Upload your fave photos from this year, place them in a collage, and you can even apply filters or professional edits easily. Most of our close friends and family are on social media, so this is a cost-effective and time-saving method for sending out a personalized holiday greeting.
Being intentional with making more phone calls and video chats
This time of year, life is busy. I get it! But, with the kids inside earlier since it is dark right after dinner, we can use the time to have more phone calls or video chats with family. Video chats are great for staying in touch.
Make a list of the people who you want to connect with this holiday season. Then, reach out to schedule chats with them. Reaching out to others makes them feel loved. It does not matter how long or short the calls last.
Write One Note Per Day and Include a Picture
You can pace yourself by spreading that Christmas card scramble out over a longer period of time. Make a list of your contacts. Each day (or a couple of times a week), write brief notes to a couple of friends.
For close family and friends, I order or print family photos to include in the card. Everyone appreciates receiving a handwritten greeting. Sending out cards does not have to be limited to the holiday season.
For those with crafty kids, have them make DIY greeting cards. We have used this same idea for making thank you notes after the holidays. It’s an easy and fun way for kids to help make Christmas cards.
Using scraps of wrapping paper, crepe paper, or craft odds and ends, the kids can make each card unique. We buy the blank card and envelope sets from the craft store. The kids then add glitter, stickers, hand-drawn pictures, and notes.
Grandparents love receiving gifts that their grandkids made themselves, and you can imagine their joy when they open the mail and see what the kids made for them.
Want the easiest method out there other than not sending cards at all? Try Postable. This program addresses and mails out your cards for you. It could not be easier.
You can share a link to your Postable address book, and your friends and family can add their addresses. Postable addresses the envelopes and sends the cards out for you! It is so easy to keep addresses handy like this. It really helps you streamline the Christmas card process each year.
Bottom Line: Avoid the Scramble
There is no reason to get overly stressed during the holidays. Each day, we can focus on the joy we are creating through the experiences we plan and the gifts we give. If that includes Christmas cards, you have a list of ideas here to get creative. If this year Christmas cards are not going to happen, just focus on the events that do happen. Each year can look a little different and still be a success.