General Etiquette > Holidays

'Personal' Christmas Cards

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I just finished the last of 125 Christmas cards - seriously!  How do I know that many people?!?  And I was thinking...I don't have a 'right or wrong' etiquette type question as much as I'm interested in your thoughts.  Here's what I'm pondering.

I don't usually send Christmas cards, in fact I haven't in the last decade or more.  This was not some anti-Christmas or anti-paper/landfill sentiment for me, it was purely practical.  When I first moved out of my parents' house into my own, my budget was TIGHT.  As in, if I got a run in a pair of pantyhose before the number of wearings I'd counted upon, I had to wear slacks until my next paycheck.  So I never got into the habit of sending Christmas cards or even of decorating my house for Christmas;  it was a choice between $45 - $65 for a tree, $ for lights, decorations, tree skirt, cards, postage OR buying gifts for my family and friends.  So gifts won.

I'm in a much better financial place now and for whatever reason - I'm really not sure - this year sending cards seemed like a fun and nice thing to do instead of daunting and insurmountable, particularly as many people sent to me through the years.  So I did it - I hand-addressed all the envelopes, put stickers and decorations into them with some thought:  religious for religious friends, stockings, Santas and candy canes for more fun-oriented friends and wrote a line or two in the card.  I didn't do a whole 'what's new with us this whole year' letter, just a few lines oriented to the person like 'looking forward to seeing you', 'hope you're doing well after the surgery', 'how's the new puppy?' and some just said 'Merry Christmas!  We love you guys!" but still I wrote everyone a note.  I also sealing-wax stamped every one with a holly-and-berries seal.  (Those came out cool.)

I get a good many cards each year where people have a professional photographer take pictures of their kids, print them with a pre-printed message and send them in envelopes pre-printed with their return address, onto which they stick a computer-printed address label.

Please understand, I'm not trying to say my way is the 'right' way, that the pre-printed way is wrong or that I'm ungrateful for their cards/remembrance.  It's nice that they included me.  But it just...I'm not sure how to put it, but sending a sleek professional photograph via a computer-generated label just doesn't seem like they're really thinking of ME, y'know? 

What are your thoughts?  Nice to be thought of at all, it's not really a thought, silly and antiquated tradition, other?  Would love to hear.

(Edited b/c it's "pre-printed", not "prepriented")

Well, as someone who does the photo-cards-with-preprinted message thing (albeit with snapshots instead of pro photographers and hand-addressed envelopes instead of computer-generated), I guess I have to say I don't find anything wrong with it. :)  Most of our friends seem to do the same and it's nice to see pix of the families and kids.

Don't get me wrong. Your way seems lovely. But if I tried to do it ... well, to be completely honest, they would never get done. It's been difficult enough to find time to find good photos, order the cards and then manage to get them addressed and mailed. And if it's a choice between not having time to send cards and making it a little easier ... I have to opt for the latter. Trust me, I'm thinking of each recipient by the fact I work so hard to find that time.

That said, your cards sound beautiful and not silly at all. :)

I know what you mean. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing cards this way. I am more about sending cards I write in myself. But the "computer generated" cards DO somewhat make me feel like I'm just a task they're crossing off their list.

A lovely card with a personal note is great, but a pre-printed card is nice too.

And both are better than what I send (nothing) so I am happy to receive either.

I think it sounds like you had a lot of fun doing them, and that's the most important thing. I have a lot of fun doing mine each year, and I don't go to nearly the same lengths you do. I like picking out different cards for different people from my stash, matching them to the preprinted return address stickers (I have a ton of those I've gotten, unsolicited, from charities, and they're pretty and I like using them), deciding which holiday stamp to apply. I do write the addresses by hand because I don't mind doing it and it's faster than trying to figure out how to print a label. I kind of like thinking about each street and town and imagining, for a few seconds, what it's like to live there. I don't even personalize my cards that much! :) I usually write the recipients' names on the inside of the card (like, "John, Jane, Susie, Sally") and then sign my own name, and that's it.

The main point is, I do the Christmas cards for me, because I enjoy doing them. It doesn't matter to me if people send me one in return--I mean, I like it if they do, but I don't really keep track. It doesn't affect whether I send them one the next year. I wouldn't want to feel obligated to do them, or to send them to people I didn't care for.

In terms of personalized vs. not... Eh, I guess I don't think about it too much. Mainly I notice the difference in a positive direction only. Like, completely generic card is the baseline--perfectly fine, nice to be thought of. And anything that took more effort or personalization, I remember more positively. Like my aunt just sent me a card today that had a really nice little note on it, about how I was welcome at her house any time, even though I haven't seen her in probably ten years, and she's actually been divorced from my uncle since I was a really little kid. Now if tomorrow I get one from a cousin that's pretty generic, I'm still going think, oh, that's nice. But it's probably my aunt's that I'm going to remember for a while.


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