Christmas Card Shark

DSC00725I finished getting my Christmas cards done yesterday. I’m pretty happy about that. I’m a Card Shark–not in the cheating Vegas definition, but in the Christmas sense. I love receiving cards, and that means I must send them out with shark-like vigor.

When I was much younger (and full of energy and crafty creativity) I would spend a month making homemade cards. I’d plan out my design and then buy supplies and start handcrafting each one. This method took FOREVER…and by time I was done making 75 cards, I hated that design and almost hated Christmas (not really, but I hated cardmaking).

Then I went to buying cards, but still felt I had to put a creative touch to it, so I’d crochet snowflake ornaments to add to each one. Months of crocheting, and probably many people could have cared less about those handmade ornaments.

Age and wisdom taught me simplicity. I had to learn it to survive and not burn myself out trying to be Martha Stewart. Now, I’ve toned down my tastes. I no longer make homemade cards or an ornament to send with each card. But I still want to send out cards to people I only contact at this time of year (old college roommates, old neighbors, extended family members, etc) because I love hearing back from them.

So now I get a picture of my family–a low stress picture that I either take with the timer or have a friend snap–and then send it into Walmart’s Photo shop. I pick a cute Christmas card template, add a small message, and then order! They usually have my cards to me that same day (if I’m willing to drive down and pick them up at the local store).

I write up a short note to add with the photo card that tells a short synopsis of what our family has done that year (that’s the personalized part)…and then spend several hours addressing envelopes and stamping them.  What used to take me over a month now takes me one evening. That is such a good feeling.

And even better is the feeling I get when Christmas cards start rolling in from all over the country. Pure JOY! I love seeing relatives and old friends and how their families are growing. It’s amazing! For example…here are my kids in Christmas 2005. See how cute and cuddly they were.

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See what 7 years do though. They’re all bigger than me. What’s with that?

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Seeing each new card with growing families makes me smile. I tape each card up to the dining room wall and feel loved as cards cover all the paint on my wall.

What about you? Are you a Christmas Card Shark? Do you send out Christmas cards? Have you ever gone insane trying to be Martha Stewart when you’re not? Do you enjoy getting cards, but find them a pain to send out? Are picture in cards preferred…or do you not care? And when it comes to the Christmas letter, do you like a novel, or a short synopsis?

Char

37 thoughts on “Christmas Card Shark

  1. Last night, I spent a few hours doing my Christmas cards. I’m not done yet. I wish I was more creative, but I’m not. So all I do is a short note with a picture of the family. I do like getting cards back with pictures and something that tells me how that family is doing. I’ve stopped sending out Christmas cards to people who never send me one back. I mean, why bother, at that point?

    • Yeah, I agree. I give people a few years…but if they don’t reciprocate (and they’re not family) I tend to let them fall off my list, since it’s always growing and takes a lot of work to get them out. Thanks for your comments.

  2. Christmas cards are one of my very favorite things. Just like you they bring me closer to friends and family. And having a birthday in December, when you get a lot of Christmas birthday presents, I kind of just think of them as extra birthday greetings.

    I used to write a personal note to everyone of the 60-75 receipients. Now I do a picture and a creative but non-braggy letter. The letter is the hardest part each year since to be non-boring as well as non-braggy, I have to come up with a gimmick. I’ve written “You know you live with alot of toddlers–“, The top ten quotes of the year, Events as lyrics to Jingle Bells, and I’ve had my 6 year old author it three years ago. I think last year it was written partially by my 13 year old daughter. This year I’m thinking a multiple choice quiz. Then it has to pass through the editor, my husband. He is brutal at rooting out boasting or overly embarrassing or stupid sections. Then I mail it off with either a picture card like yours or just a picture.

    I used to think that it had to be done by Thanksgiving and in the mail the next week. I’ve grown wiser since then and know that people like letters any time including New Years, Valentine’s, and May Day.

    • Yes, the letter is the hardest part. I’ve gone to making mine 2 lines on each person and no more–and just what we’re doing…not how wonderful we are (although we are…just kidding). This year’s lacked wit, but after fighting my cold the past 2 weeks, I just didn’t care anymore about trying to be funny. I love your ideas. We’ll have to send to each other, even though we’re right across the street. I want to read your letter now.

  3. What a beautiful family you have!

    I’m fickle when it comes to Christmas cards. Some years I send them; some years I don’t. Depends on how busy I am. I allow myself that one thing to be lax about. Between gift-buying, wrapping, baking, decorating, I want to enjoy Christmas, not get burned out. So if I finish things early, I’ll send out cards with the boys’ school pics. It is fun to hear from others, but I prefer a brief hello to the long-winded sagas. 🙂

    • I’m with you on brief versus sagas. I tend to skim Christmas novels, especially if they get too sappy. Even though I love romance novels, I don’t like pure sappiness just for the sake of it. And it’s good to be flexible and give yourself permission to send/or not send. Being happy at Christmas is the most important thing. Hope you have a fabulous one!

  4. Your kids sure are growing up, huh? I do the Xmas card photos and I use my kids’ photo on them. It’s fun to keep one of each every year so I can see how they grow. One day, I’ll want to frame all the Xmas photo cards together to keep on a wall. I write a personal message on each, but something very short. I think I send out about 20 each year only. Close family and friends, that’s it. If people don’t send me cards, they don’t get one, that’s my rule!

    • Nice idea to frame them or scrapbook those cards for yourself. Too late for me, as I usually hand them all out and don’t have one left over. I do love the little personal notes on the cards, and try to do those to close friends and family. But even if someone doesn’t write something to me, I always love the pictures. I am sad when I get a card without a picture in it.

  5. You’re so organised with your Christmas cards. We bought ours on the weekend and hope to write on them in the next few days. We keep meaning to order some address labels to reduce the time spent writing our address … Oh, well, there’s my first resolution for 2013—order labels! 🙂

    • Yes, labels would be nice. I ran out half way through and was a little irritated having to write my return address on 30-40 others. Ick.

  6. We do a short letter with our cards to let people know what we’ve been up to over the year. Then we’ll include a few photos of fun sights and us on the back of the letter. I love hearing what friends and family scattered across the country have been doing, so I don’t mind if they send a lengthy letter. 🙂

    • I guess it’s all about the writing. I just received a long letter today and laughed the whole way through it. I devoured every word because it was funny and informative at the same time. I’ve received others that were more braggy and boring. I love knowing what everyone’s doing, but put your best writing forward.

  7. A few years ago I tried to cut cards, mostly for the budget (cards + postage), but Nathan wouldn’t let me. So it’s a must around here. I actually attempted a short two line per person update this year, but my printer didn’t cooperate. I love getting cards, but I too cut those who don’t reciporate after a few years.

    • I just got yours today and loved it! Very cute. Yours is in the mail. Sorry about your printer. I hate when technology doesn’t cooperate! But I’m glad Nathan didn’t let you cut the cards.

  8. This is a great post, Char. I love the progression. I too used to send out homemade cards. Now I send New Year’s cards to those who send me cards. Love the pics of the kids!

    • I have several friends that send out New Year’s cards. As long as I get a card, I’m happy. (And I’m ecstatic not to be making cards anymore).

  9. When my kids were younger, their school used to do that thing where the kids each draw a Christmassy picture, and then we can order Christmas cards with that picture on. It was so simple, the kids would bring home their picture from school with the form, and we filled out the form (if we weren’t happy with the picture they had drawn/painted at school, they could do a different one at home), then we send the form, picture and payment back to school, and our packs or cards arrive at some later point with the child’s name as the designer printed on the back. It made me feel like we were kind of sending out homemade cards! But no more of that now they’re older. I’m a bit of a last minute rush out and buy/send cards person now, but I do always appreciate receiving cards where people have handmade them, or handmade touches, or included photos or personal updates.

    Your family is beautiful!

    • I love kids’s drawings. When I was a school teacher, I spent the first half of the year having the kids draw pictures to represent each month, and then making calendars of their drawings for their parents for a Christmas gift. I like the card idea with that. That was probably fun for your kids seeing the cards with their pictures. I have several artistic girls, so my cards could be outstanding if I let them do it (but they’d probably want to be paid…urgh!)

  10. I prided myself on being the first one in my group of friends, and my family, PLUS my husband’s family to be the first one who sent out Christmas cards. For years, on Thanksgiving weekend, I’d handmake all the cards, add in the photos, write messages, and mail them out on December 1. This year, I didn’t get to do that because of some stuff going on with my Mom, and already I heard from two people…they think I’m mad at them because they hadn’t received a card yet! I had to laugh at that one. Serves me right for being routinely on time with those cards!

    • That’s funny…but nice to know they notice your cards. I, too, once was the early bird. Now I’m in the middle of the card-giving. As I get older, I might be that one that gets their cards out late and people get them AFTER Christmas.

  11. Hey there now, I think we all still look cute and cuddly in that new picture!! You make it sound like just because we’re older and taller that we’re scary or something! haha 😉 jk

  12. Your family is beautiful. It is amazing when they somehow get so much taller overnight. That’s such a nice idea to crochet snowflakes and include them but it sounds like so much work! I love sending out Christmas cards and always listen to Christmas music while filling them out. The photo ones are really nice to see the changes through the years. I love hanging them up too and they usually stay up way too long but I can bear to take them down after Christmas.

    • Thanks so much, Sheila. The walls do seem very bare after New Year’s when I take down all the cards. And my crochet snowflake days are over. I have enough for my tree and never want the hassle again. Have a great Christmas!

  13. Beautiful family! We tend to do the photo cards as well, hubby even helps pick out the card template. It was nice having the grown kids here for Thanksgiving because we could take a full family photo, including the dogs.

    I’m bad about not including a personal note, but I figure the photo is more personal than a non-descript signed card.

    I actually keep an excel sheet of names, addresses and years sent, years received. If we don’t get a return card in 3 years, off the list they go! It’s sure getting more and more expensive each year though.

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