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The Modern Christmas Letter

My query has to do with the etiquette of sending Christmas letters and greetings via email. Save for a few family members, the vast majority of people on my Christmas letter list are accessible via email now, so it seems to make sense that in lieu of postage and post office lineups this time of year, is it alright to send a letter via email?

In the last few years I have received more holiday updates in this format, and don’t mind it at all. If it’s a letter I want to keep, I simply print it out and add it to the pile of other cards and letters. I know there is something to be said for receiving a card in the mail, and I do plan to send out those to older family members who do not use email. But to be fair, it is also an extremely busy time of year, and it seems like each year fewer and fewer people have time to send out greetings. This seems like a great way to keep the tradition alive, while still having time to get everything else done.

Thanks for your guidance! 1205-13

So, you want to eschew a tradition of sending holiday greetings by mail solely because you are too busy to sign, address and mail these Christmas letters and cards?   Hmmm…don’t you think that if everyone had the same attitude of wanting the easy, lazy way of expressing holiday cheer that emailed Christmas greetings would soon be equated with the easiest way possible to get out of wishing someone a Happy New Year?  How special.           Not.

I still send Christmas cards by mail.   I view each card as a small, personal, inexpensive gift of my time.   Email “cards” don’t have holographic effects or glitter or the smeared ink of my personal notes and signature.    I email and Facebook family and friends all year but I want something a little more special for expressing my wishes for a happy holidays and good new year.   So few people send Christmas cards now that I *like* being the oddball who still does it.

It just seems to me that some correspondences should be so special that they deserve a more personal touch than a mass mailed email message.   Weddings and holidays rate as those special times.

{ 83 comments… add one }
  • AnaLuisa December 18, 2013, 2:31 am

    Why not? And especially if the other option is to send no greetings at all.

    Why despise e-mail greetings provided they are worded personally and not as a circular?

    I would cherish a handwritten postcard from a dear relative or a close friend. But so many such cards are meant just for business purposes and I do not perceive them as sincere. What to do with such cards? I would probably throw them in the garbage bin, feeling slightly guilty but there is only a limited space in our home.

    I would say – any sincere thought counts, may it be via e-mail or via standard postcard.

  • Nicolek December 18, 2013, 2:45 am

    I sent out about 100 cards and with postage being what it is here it came to about 300 in us dollars. I get maybe ten cards. I write a personal message in each one even if it is only a couple lines. But Im wondering how much people actually care about getting them and whether it is worth the hassle and expense. It costs two dollars to send a card to the states and pricey as getting shutterfly cards is, buying cards here would be just as expensive and not personalized, so I dunno, i may do some serious culling

    • admin December 18, 2013, 7:33 am

      Sending cards must be becoming quite unusual since I actually get phone calls from friends thanking me for mailing them a card.

  • Ellex December 18, 2013, 3:43 am

    Every Christmas letter I or my parents have ever gotten has been photocopied or mass printed and if there’s a card it’s the “fifty in a box kind”, certainly not any specially chosen cards or customized notes. Usually addressed with printed address labels. More effort than an email, but it’s *barely* more personal.

    And whether it’s by personalized card, mass holiday mailing, or group email, I always enjoy seeing the highlights of everyone’s year.

  • Maria December 18, 2013, 4:11 am

    I think it’s perfectly acceptable to send emails instead. Postage has gone up to a ridiculous amount in recent years (it is now 1.50 USD to send a domestic letter in Denmark – and about twice that to send an international one) and it’s the contents that count.

    Quite frankly, I would *much* rather receive a personal email, than a generic card with nothing more than “Dear Maria and Husband, Merry Christmas, Love us”. I appreciate the thought, but the card goes straight to the trash. A personal email (by this I mean one with a personal greeting – not just the same wording as above but in email format instead) would be saved and treasured.

  • WillyNilly December 18, 2013, 4:19 am

    I think there is a distinct difference between the “holiday letter” tradition and the “holiday card” tradition. The former is usually a lengthy update in the form of a letter about how the whole family/household is doing and what everyone has been up to for the last year, its often typed and somewhat impersonal to the recipient, its really ‘about’ the writer. The latter is a pretty (or funny, or religious, or photo) card with just a brief message wishing well to the recipient.

    So I think if one does a *letter* its fine, even preferable to do via email. But for cards, I think its nice to mail a physical card… although the eco footprint of a card is rather large (not to mention the financial outlay of cards and postage if one has a long list of recipients) and I certainly would never judge someone harshly for choosing a greener method of holiday well-wishing.

  • Sadie December 18, 2013, 4:35 am

    I think it’s pretty narrow-minded and petty to dismiss emails as “impersonal” or “lazy.” Just like any letter, an email takes time and thought to write. If you want to smear glitter on a card and send it through snail mail, that’s your prerogative; I have received Christmas cards that are nothing more than a store bought card with a scribbled signature, which is hardly what I would call personal or special. I would much rather receive a long thoughtful email (you can even attach pictures or videos!) if the alternative is a scribble on a piece of cardstock.

    Tradition isn’t a great reason to keep doing something and to suggest otherwise is a very staid way of thinking.

  • Olivia December 18, 2013, 4:52 am

    Sorry disagree on this one, you’re still taking just as much effort to send the same information, and might even use the extra time and space to include more details. You are still showing people that you care and sharing at a special time.

    And an even bigger advantage- you are also using a much more environmentally sustainable method. Think about how many trees would be saved if every single person in the world switch to email for their Christmas Greeting.

    I don’t have a problem with sending Christmas cards if that is something special to you, but slamming someone for using an alternative medium doesn’t seem like good etiquette to me.

  • Easily Amused December 18, 2013, 5:47 am

    I love getting and sending Christmas cards, but simply do not have the time. Full time job, raising my child, Christmas performances (I sing and I direct the Children’s Choir program at my church- November and December are full of rehearsals and performances), as well as serving in a couple of benevolence programs leave me with almost no time to even shop for gifts. It is a wonderful, busy whirl!
    This year we sent Jacquie Lawson advent calendars in lieu of cards to friends and family with mixed success. The ones who have activated and used them LOVE them, but some others really just weren’t interested in downloading something new to their computers which, in retrospect, is not really a surprise. Hindsight is 20/20! Maybe we need to fill out our Christmas cards in June or something so they will be done ahead of time. But, then again, June is so very busy around here…

  • ferretrick December 18, 2013, 6:44 am

    I still do Christmas cards, and I like receiving them, but I have never and will never do a Christmas letter. I’m sorry, I’m quite happy and active, but I have no delusions that my life would be that interesting to anyone but me and my partner. Christmas letters are, at least half of the time, tedious and dull. In the days of facebook, when everyone shares everything of importance (or non-importance) five minutes after it happens, the Christmas letter is particularly superfluous. But I still like giving and receiving cards even with just a simple signature.

    I’ve noticed particularly at work this year though, I’m getting quite a few cards from business contacts by email-now that I find REALLY cheap and obnoxious. I don’t mind personal emailed cards. But for a business it would be better to not send anything at all then to show me that you value my business so little all you can muster is a usually poorly done graphic design mass mailed to your entire address book in two seconds.

  • Vicky December 18, 2013, 6:45 am

    I love technology but despite everything that I have transitioned to email, I still love to send hand written cards. I don’t write long letters, just short notes and think it is well worth the time it takes to do so. My one cheat is that I do have address labels that I print out for the envelopes. Frankly with my handwriting, it is easier for the post office to have printed labels. I’m a little behind this year – just waiting for my photo cards to be printed but once I get them this week, they will be out by the weekend.

  • AuntyT December 18, 2013, 7:09 am

    I agree with the Admin. If you don’t want to spend the time on the individuals, then don’t.

    I’ve actually gone the complete opposite of eCards. I decided this year that I would invest my time and make my own cards through out the year, not just for Christmas. My reasoning is that if I want to give you a card, I should spend the time and think about you and why I’m giving you that card. It comes out in some very nice hand made cards that are much more personable than any store bought cards. The comments that I have received back have been very favorable and I think people are quite surprised and actually consider the card a gift in of itself.

  • jojo December 18, 2013, 7:09 am

    I was reading an article the other day about how much people spend on buying and mailing Christmas cards. It can mount up to rather a lot of money, particularly if you’ve got lots of overseas contacts like me.
    How about sending e-cards?
    You can make them yourself and people have the option of printing them off. I don’t have an issue with emailing greetings at all, although I would do real cards for older relatives.

  • Joni December 18, 2013, 7:14 am

    E-mailed Christmas cards are also cheaper (free), don’t clutter up the sender’s house, and are more environmentally friendly.

  • Marie December 18, 2013, 7:24 am

    My SO and I also send out Christmas cards per email. The reason behind it is simple: it’s not killing trees, you are sure you reach everyone in time, and it’s easy for people to keep in the mailarchives if they want to see it again. I used to save home made cards to show appreciation, but they kept cluttering up throughout the years and it annoyed me – I also never looked at them again.

    However, we do not simply send out an email. We try to think of something cool every year, try to create something (or things), photograph them, and design a card around it. As an example: one year we wrote down “merry christmas and a happy new year” in 12 different languages, photographed ourselves holding up the signs, and used them in our digital card design. Those 12 languages contained all languages some of our friends have as their native language, including some difficult ones like Thai and Japanese. This card was really appreciated, and it had a personal touch for a lot of people because we wrote our message in their own language.

    So we might look “lazy” because of an masse email, but we do put in effort and originality – which is usually more appreciated than a store bought card with a name scribbeled on it. I personally don’t think it matters how you send it, but what you send is what really counts.

  • Charliesmum December 18, 2013, 7:45 am

    I agree with the people who say ‘Christmas/Holiday CARDS’ and still nice to send out but yearly update letters are fine to email. And like someone else said, nowadays one doesn’t have to give an ‘our year in review’ retrospective so much since 9 times out of 10 it was already pasted on a social media site.

    I’ve not actually ever received a holiday e-card ever, so I don’t really know how I’d feel about it. Glad, I guess, that the sender was thinking of me.

    That said, we still send out cards – not too many – close friends and older relatives mostly, and I try to put a little personal note in each one. And I do like getting and displaying cards we receive.

  • earthgirl December 18, 2013, 7:49 am

    I love sending handwritten thank-you cards and notes to my relatives, but had to veto the idea of holiday cards to my entire mailing list this year because the postage would be cost-prohibitive. I’ll only be sending a select few.

    I don’t think that email cards necessarily have to be impersonal. It is what you make of it.

  • Green123 December 18, 2013, 7:49 am

    It’s nice to receive cards, but I’d much prefer to receive an email message than nothing at all. Postage stamps in the UK are now so expensive for such a poor, unreliable service that lots of people are moving to e-cards and e-messages.

  • Jewel December 18, 2013, 7:50 am

    For me, the “gold standard” in Christmas greetings is a mailed card with a few handwritten lines of news or even a mass produced letter inside. However, I’ll gladly take an email over nothing. And, I almost prefer nothing at all over a picture postcard of the kids with zero family news.

  • The Elf December 18, 2013, 8:27 am

    I love sending and receiving Christmas cards. I do so much electronically, it’s nice to do something by hand. But I understand that it takes some time and not everyone has it. Or if they do, it might be too late in the season to rely on snail mail. Plus there is the “green” aspect to sending such a greeting electronically. I get it.

    So, here’s my take on it. You don’t have to send anything at all. It’s not necessary, not even by etiquette rules. Sending a mass email or letter or pre-printed card is better than nothing at all, sending personalized emails is better than that, sending personalized cards is even better. You pick the level of involvement you want and I’ll be happy to hear from you during the Yuletide.

  • Kirsten December 18, 2013, 8:32 am

    The OP didn’t actually say s/he was planning a mass email anywhere, just that s/he was considering writing by email to friends and family at Christmas. This could still mean individual emails that take time and effort. I don’t think the Admin’s perspective of this as “the easy, lazy way of expressing holiday cheer” is fair – that’s assuming this is a mass email, which has not been said.

    And I am with Ferretrick. Holiday letters = tedious in the main! So few people who write them are any good at them, and many of these mass-addressed letters are just ‘What my SO advanced, high achieving children did this year while we bought a massive house’. I find round robin letters are as thoughtless as any mass email and would much rather have a personal message, whether by email, card or phone.

    We just don’t know how ‘lazy’ the OP here is being, if it’s lazy at all. It may not be.

  • Ergala December 18, 2013, 9:12 am

    I would much rather receive an email with photos attached. Saves me from having to scan the photos to my computer later. I print them off later for my frames in the size I want. Plus our mail tends to get lost a lot. I don’t know how or why but it does. In fact at least once I’ve found letters in the snow bank outside that were addressed to us that the mail carrier dropped days earlier. They were soaking wet and ruined. At least with an email I get it in one piece and dry!

  • Rattus December 18, 2013, 9:15 am

    I neither send nor receive cards, and I’m perfectly happy about that. My household does, however receive a card every year for someone who hasn’t lived there for at least ten years (which is how long about we moved in), so… At any rate, my preference is for the electronic contact, which inevitably leads to at least a brief e-conversation, over a bit of generic, environmentally egregious ephemera.

    Team OP.

  • AS December 18, 2013, 9:27 am

    I don’t quite understand why admin thinks that email greetings has to be mass emails. I always send personal emails for everything – even if it is for a gathering at home. And personal emails do involve the “gift of time”.

    I do send cards, but we send cards with photographs from the year, and personally addressed and signed by hubby and me. Most people seem to like it (though it is more expensive). Generic cards usually just get tossed away by most people. Plus they are a lot of paper waste that gets generated.

    I have also received pre-printed, pre-addresses cards sent directly from a photo printing company like shutterfly. I think emails are more personal than that. Emails were not a “tradition”, because it wasn’t available 20 years back. I don’t think that we should place our etiquette yardstick based on what was right 20 years ago. Let’s face it- most of us don’t get to talk to people even on emails the rest of the year. Email messages are a good way to catch up, and chances of getting a reply is higher.

  • Markko December 18, 2013, 9:27 am

    It is getting quite unusual admin, and it is having a marked effect on the quality and ingenuity card companies are putting forth these days. I have seen some truly beautiful cards well worth saving that I am proud to send and would be thrilled to receive. Naturally I would only send them to those special few who seem to care about these things, as they are more expensive than the pulp cards of yesteryear.

  • BeachMum December 18, 2013, 9:29 am

    Every year we send out about 100 Jewish New Year’s card (the equivalent to Christmas cards) in September. Every year we hear from oodles of people that (a) they were thrilled to receive our card and, for those who don’t live nearby, our letter and that (b) they were too busy to mail out any cards. I do photo cards each year so that everyone can see pictures of our children.

    I’ve started giving my stock answer, which is that if each of them simply sent out eight cards (one package), they’d brighten the day of eight people. I’ve converted a few people, but most reiterate how busy they are. We’re all busy. Rather than trying to mail out 100 cards, sending a few with personal notes is lovely. Although email is fine, we get so much junk mail and bills that a card is still appreciated much more than a friendly email, and is much less likely to get missed.

    I’m with admin on sending a real card.

  • Cat December 18, 2013, 9:40 am

    I am of the older generation. Cards mean a great deal to me: the ones I received from my students telling me how much they enjoy having me as their teacher, the ones from friends and family who are no longer here, the ones that contain funny incidents that I have forgotten…
    If they kill trees, let’s plant more trees. If they are expensive, think of it as an investment in someone’s future happiness. Cards say, “Remember me as I remember you.”

  • Redneck Gravy December 18, 2013, 9:41 am

    I send a mass email to a large group of people in an organization I am secretary in but I still send paper cards by mail to family and closer friends – usually with our Christmas family photo.

    I think there is a happy medium.

    The written word is very important to me, but then I still hand write letters so I’m a dinosaur. But I wouldn’t criticize someone for their method even if I didn’t prefer it.

  • josephsmosheph December 18, 2013, 9:43 am

    I would find a personalized Christmas email just as special as a personalized handwritten letter. I love worrying that someone will not take my attempt at thoughtfulness as I intend it and not feel I put enough work into it to make it special. Not.

  • Miss-E December 18, 2013, 9:50 am

    Most of the cards I get these days are just a card in an envelope, no handwritten note or anything. Sure my name and address are on the front but, really, someone just stuffed a card in an envelope and called it day. Cards are not as special as people think. So I don’t think an email is a big deal at all.

  • Jazzgirl205 December 18, 2013, 9:52 am

    I mail out about 30 Xmas cards. I like getting them so I send them out. One year, I didn’t send them because we moved and had a death in the family. The next year, I sent out a Xmas letter with the information. My one and only Xmas letter. I decorate my house with these cards and the pictures of elderly relatives and new babies that come inside them. I also have relatives in different countries with whom I don’t want to lose contact. These distant cousins, most of whom I have never met, are the descendants of the brothers and sisters who stayed home while my ancestors took the risk and came to the US. It still amazes me how much we have in common.

  • Deb December 18, 2013, 9:52 am

    ‘Sent out around 60 cards this year, for under $30. I enjoy doing this, letting folks know we are thinking of them. But by all means, include me in your holiday Email listserv if you intend to send me a holiday update letter about your family. Easier for me to just delete it and saves on paper. I do not enjoy them one bit. The ones I’ve gotten range from boastful discussions about one’s little geniuses, and personal and professional accomplishments, to plaintive discussions about medical matters that are best limited to immediate family.

  • Erin December 18, 2013, 10:00 am

    I must be odd because I like the generic 50-in-a-box Christmas cards, because to take the effort to actually write out our names and address, stamp the thing, and send it, means the sender is thinking of me more than just as an email address in their address book. And a lot of those cards are really cute. It’s just nice to open your mailbox and find something better than a bill or an ad.

    One of my friends sent a Christmas card from her toddler son to my kindergarten-age daughter. It was the most adorable thing ever.

  • Yvaine December 18, 2013, 10:04 am

    I actually get pretty big numbers of cards, but in any case, I don’t think the email is any less effort at all. We’re just conditioned to think cards are “necessary” for all sorts of occasions because there is a card industry encouraging them. And mind you, I love them! But people managed to convey their holiday greetings to each other for centuries before they were invented. And if people from ye olde days had had email to write letters to each other, they’d have done it, not stuck with the pony express (or its equivalent in other places and times) just to be picturesque.

  • NicoleK December 18, 2013, 10:19 am

    I see I’m in the minority.. I LOVE newsletters, with pictures of the families and all that. Helps me know what’s going on with people I haven’t seen in a while, and remember the names of their kids

  • Deb December 18, 2013, 10:22 am

    Yes. We should all scrap our silly little creative ideas and admit that anything less than actual glitter falling out of actual envelopes into our friends’ actual carpets is just a waste of everybody’s time.

    There are many ways to send holiday greetings. What we call “Christmas cards” came rather late to the game. If that’s how YOU show you care, great! It is not a matter of etiquette. However, it is always impolite to suggest that your traditions are classier, more creative, or more heartfelt than someone else’s.

  • Tina December 18, 2013, 10:32 am

    I like receiving and sending cards and letters in the mail pretty much any other time than the holidays – then you know it’s someone really thinking of you and wanting to be in touch. At Christmas, I feel like it’s an obligation on a checklist and they don’t feel very special, despite the hard labor of buying stamps and writing addresses!

  • Roslyn December 18, 2013, 10:35 am

    I personally don’t bother with Holiday cards. I used to fuss over them and spent the year making sure I had all the correct addresses etc. But then I woke up. I didn’t receive cards and greetings back, and face to face with the recipients through the year told me how these people (mostly family members) really felt about me personally. My husband and I were not on their important list, my children were of no consequence. So I woke up and realized that I would do something special for those who were special.

    That list is quite small, and I make items for people that I know they love, or need. It is how I show them they are important to me, and these people also reiterate in their own way.

    At the end of the day, we make time for what is important for us. If we can’t make time for Holiday greetings, that isn’t something that is important. How can I be offended when someone doesn’t send a mailed, hand written card? If it is not important to that person, that isn’t’ me, it is them.

  • Pam December 18, 2013, 10:52 am

    The purpose of a Christmas letter is to touch base with friends and family – if someone wants to send it to me email or snail mail I think that etiquette dictates I do not judge them for their method. If someone sends me a Christmas card in the mail, I would send them a card in return because they’ve just demonstrated that the physical card is important to them. If you send me an email, I can send you an email in return with no worries.

    I do think wedding invitations are a little different – that is a huge life event! However, if someone invites me to their wedding via facebook event notification, I should graciously accept it. When my daughters get married, we’ll send invitations.

  • JenMo December 18, 2013, 10:57 am

    My personal email account is constantly flooded with offers and complete junk mail, and I don’t check it daily, or even weekly is a stretch at times. So I may not even see an email format Christmas greeting. And I also simply prefer the actual physical card in the mail, that the sender has personally touched, that I can hold in my hands. It’s a sentimental thing, and the touch aspect means something to me. But whatever you do, some will like it, others not so much.

    Also, a lot of people are commenting that they dislike the family newsletters, but I do not. I don’t know if it’s just perception, but I have never taken it as a braggy type thing. Sure, a lot of it revolves around what the kids have accomplished, and also their new interests and activities, as well as if the parents have done something new in their lives too…..but that’s all of interest to me. I enjoy reading them and getting the scoop about the good things they’ve experienced over the last year. I’ve received them from various people, but the one person who has sent them EVERY year for perhaps 15+ years writes the newsletter with separate “articles” for the different kids/events/tidbits, each with a very humorous bent. It’s fun to read, and I usually laugh all the way through. She was a journalism major though, so perhaps hers are more entertaining than is typical. However, I can see how someone could interpret it as bragging since most of the “news” is about the fun, exciting things they’ve been up to along with their accomplishments.

  • Amber December 18, 2013, 11:06 am

    I’ve been sending Christmas cards for the last 6 years (the years of adulthood where I was finally financially secure and out of school). I’ve noticed that since I’ve been sending the cards, I’ve slowly been receiving more cards in return from the 20 or so families on my list (all family and close friends). There’s something about sitting down and writing a personal note in a card, even if it’s only a few sentences long. And it cheers me up to receive the cards – I tape each one to my door until the holidays are over.

    I think it’s the epitome of “it’s the thought that counts.” When I open a card, I know I’m on someone’s list. I know they think of me at least once a year. I know someone cares that much. And it makes me feel less alone.

  • Magicdomino December 18, 2013, 11:15 am

    I send out 20 to 25 paper cards, and I love receiving them. They decorate the house for the first Christmas, and decorate packages in future Christmases. I’ve even used really old cards to decorate a holiday party at the office when we didn’t have any other decorations. While some of the recipients are people I see once in a while, others are distant relatives that I haven’t seen in years. It won’t kill me to fill out a card once a year, just to keep some contact.

    Now, I admit that part of the process is automated now. Address labels are updated and printed, return address is courtesy of free labels from various non-profit groups, and there is even the dreaded printed holiday letter. The letter must not be that bad, though; after my aunt died, her daughters asked to be put on my card list just so they could get it. I do hand-sign my name on both the card and letter, and may add a note for some people.

    I have never received an email version of a holiday letter. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be too impressed. Why an email would seem more disposable than a paper card, I don’t know, but it does. In addition, if it’s heavy on graphics, it’s going to be annoying to download, and even more annoying if the receipient doesn’t have broadband internet.

  • bah12 December 18, 2013, 11:30 am

    I have no problem with sending an email in liue of a physical Christmas letter. There is not one ‘correct’ way to do something. I see it as neither lazy nor easy. Technology has changed communication. Telling someone that an email is not an appropriate way to send a greeting because snail mail has been the tradition for a few hundred years is like telling someone that a phone call is not an appropriate way to wish someone a happy birthday because the horse and buggy was used for hundreds of years.

  • Bridget December 18, 2013, 11:31 am

    I agree with the admin, yet I find myself a little more discouraged every year because for every 20 cards I send, I get maybe 3 in return. I know the point of sending them isn’t to get them, but it’s just so nice to open your mailbox and find something besides bills and advertisements. So this year I chose to send cards to the people I know appreciate them (grandmas, great aunts, a handful of friends. etc) and not to people who open and toss. That way, I know my gift is appreciated and there’s no hint of resentment on my part!

  • Lo December 18, 2013, 11:33 am

    I’m with Ferretrick and Kirsten on Christmas letters being tedious and I don’t even use social media to update people on my life.

    I still remember what a huge deal it was in my family when we finally had a computer/printer combo that could do newsletters with color effects. My parents immediately wanted to send out newsletters for Christmas and even as a kid I knew that no one could possibly care about our lives enough to really want to read a multiple page newsletter with low resolution photos. Maybe Grandma, but that’s about it. Then again my parents were masters of the humblebrag.

    I do LOVE getting cards in the mail and I send them when I have the time. So I appreciate that. I also don’t have a huge list of people to send cards to. If I got an email card I wouldn’t be offended or anything. I’d just prefer a generic Christmas card with a signature. I know it’s a waste of paper but I use them to decorate.

  • Library Diva December 18, 2013, 11:39 am

    I love doing the paper Christmas cards. I mail about 30 of them every year, though I have vowed to start earlier next year and include more people. While I don’t think it’s “wrong” to send an electronic card, I do think it’s a little bit impersonal. I love receiving the paper ones, and I hang them up and enjoy them through about mid-January.

    One thing to consider is that (at least in the US, for the most part), you’re more likely to grab someone’s attention with a paper card. My email attracts mostly advertisements of one form or another, and I only check it every few days. I think most people get their mail every day, though.

  • Yet Another Laura December 18, 2013, 11:42 am

    I don’t send holiday cards. Never started.

    When I was a kid, my mother would spend days at the kitchen table poring over her entire address book with boxes of cards piled everywhere. She did this as though it were an assembly line with zero help from Dad. I’d stamp and stuff the envelopes. One pile with signed cards, one pile of addressed envelopes, stuffed but unstamped. I asked why she did it, and her answer was, “They sent me a card, so I have to send one back.” I asked if she’d like to give it up and make more cookies instead. Her answer, “It’s tradition.”

    One year I volunteered for a US senatorial campaign. The mailings were just like this, except the list was longer and there were more people helping.

    Besides death and taxes, there is one other guarantee in life: That no matter what you do related to holidays or weddings, you can’t please everyone.

  • Dust Bunny December 18, 2013, 11:42 am

    Gotta confess: I am perfectly OK getting a Christmas email. I don’t save cards. I don’t save Christmas letters. I don’t mind getting letters, certainly, but I could just as easily get them by email and save everyone the paper and expense (I don’t write Christmas letters myself. Nothing that interesting going on in my life). Even an email takes effort to write. I do cards because I have a short–like, ten people–list of people who might actually care about getting a card from me, but that’s it.

    I think there are things that are inherently rude, such as begging for cash in your wedding invitation, and things that seem rude at first mostly because they’re new and different, and the email Christmas update may be one of the latter. I’d far rather people spent their holiday time on writing the content and not on physically handwriting every card, sticking a stamp on it, and braving the post office, so I’m totally OK with being sent emails.

  • Anonymous December 18, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I’m surprised that nobody has mentioned the “video Christmas card/letter” tradition that’s been emerging recently, like the viral video that this family made:


    Anyway, I think this is a great idea, because it’s more fun than a tedious Christmas letter, less generic than a Christmas card (5o in a box, everyone gets “Dear Whoever, Merry Christmas, Love Us”), and doesn’t need to be mailed, because you can just post it on YouTube or Vimeo for free. Also, I have friends who live all over the world, so if I sent Christmas cards to all of them, it’d not only cost a fortune to send, but some of the cards might arrive months later, or not at all, like what happened last year. Friend from Australia sent me a card that arrived around Christmas time, I sent her a (handmade, detailed) card that got lost in the mail, after I’d paid the international postal rate. So, some traditions work for some people, and other people need to adjust, or even forgo, those traditions, to make them work for them. That doesn’t make anyone “lazy,” it’s just life.

  • Calli Arcale December 18, 2013, 12:12 pm

    I still do Christmas cards, but I have a couple of friends who do e-mail. My friends abroad in particular prefer email, as international postage can add up quickly. And there are options with e-mail that you don’t have otherwise. There’s an awesome family Christmas card that’s gone viral recently, where it’s done via YouTube. Videos are quite expensive to mail, so if you want to do something like that, the Internet is absolutely the way to go.

    It is the *thought* that matters. Not the medium.

  • Lerah99 December 18, 2013, 12:58 pm

    I love sending and receiving actual Holiday Cards.
    In fact, I send out Halloween Cards in October just to make sure my card list is up to date for the Holiday Cards in December.

    And I can’t express how much I enjoy opening my mailbox and finding cards people have sent me. It makes my whole week! Every December I string up a pretty garland and attach all the cards I get to it so I can see them through the Holiday Season. Then when I take down the decorations, I have a large shoe box where I keep all the birthday cards, holiday cards, and letters people send me.

    That shoe box of cards and letters makes me so happy. When I’m feeling depressed or feeling lonely, I open it up and go through all the lovely cards I’ve received over the years. That tactile feeling of going through those cards just can’t be replaced by clicking on emails.

    Since my cards mean so much to me, I treasure the weekend after Thanksgiving where I play movies on Netflix while writing out cards to my friends and family. If just ONE of my friends or family has a better day for receiving my card, it was totally worth the time and money to send them.

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