Week #3 of All Done By December One – Consider Cards and Paper

Family portrait

Photo: Chris, Awkward Family Photos

Do you send holiday cards? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Greeting Card Association (and you knew there had to be one), Americans purchase a staggering 1.6 billion holiday card “units,” some of which are boxes of cards, each year.

I’ve always liked Christmas cards, so our household accounts for about 75 of those “units” purchased each year. I love receiving cards, too, and keep them in a basket out on our coffee table during the holiday season. Those that include a family photo are always special, and I even like the form letters including a bit of news. Yet as I consider simplifying and striving to have a more eco-friendly holiday, I’ve been rethinking sending cards.

Some of the alternatives I’ve considered include:

  • Sending an online Christmas card via e-mail.
  • Setting up a family holiday page on my website.
  • Making a holiday video.
  • Sending a postcard instead of a traditional card. No envelope stuffing or licking, and postage is cheaper, too! (First class postage is 46 cents, and post card stamps are 33 cents.)
  • Forgoing cards, and connecting with loved ones on the phone or in person.
holiday cards

Photo: Designs by CnC

How about you? If you’re planning to send traditional Christmas cards this year, you may wish to begin some of the related tasks in the coming week:

  • If you want a special holiday portrait, schedule the appointment to get the photo taken this week. Or gather everyone in their matching red-checked outfits and snap the photo.
  • Alternately, create a collage-style card with photos you already have. Track down the photos this week.
  • Create your mailing list. A computer mailing list program can save you lots of time addressing envelopes, and you can even use Microsoft Excel’s mail merge feature.
  • Make, purchase or order Christmas cards. Or decide on an alternative like an online card and get started.
  • Purchase stamps. The US Postal Service now sells stamps on eBay, or you can order them directly from USPS.com and have them shipped to you.

You may also want to stock up on tape and recycled wrapping paper or reusable gift bags this week while you’re out and about. Don’t forget to check out the Happy Simple Holidays Pinterest board for eco-friendly, no-cost and low-cost wrapping and card ideas. I’d love to hear your thoughts, ideas and comments about holiday cards, and whether you’re sending them this year.

Here’s to taking more small steps during the next 30 days, and your happiest holidays ever,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. After the holidays, we’ll donate our used greeting cards to St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Cards Program.


About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of a dozen books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Week #3 of All Done By December One – Consider Cards and Paper

  • I always enjoy sending Christmas Cards to friends and family. It’s also a great time to connect with those that you haven’t stayed in touch with!

  • lyle @ the Joy of Simple

    Hey Eliza and thanks for all the great ideas as card sending alternatives. I still like mailing cards to friends and family but what I do is buy packs of 30 Christmas cards at the dollar store. They usually have no written sentiment other than Merry Christmas which allows me to write a more personal holiday message. This way, it’s kind of like a letter AND a holiday greeting! For me it’s more personal than sending e-cards or a FB message. Not that there’s anything wrong with that 🙂

    Take care and all the best.


    ps: Really enjoying your blog btw…especially the recipe ideas 🙂

  • There are websites now that will help to mail out cards. Some print out your message so they looked typed (GreetingCardUniverse). Others are apps that allow you to draw your own signature (Felt), which is then printed out on a card and mailed. A third alternative are cards that are signed on your behalf and mailed (SendOutCards, WrittenCards). Lots of ways to stay personable in the digital age.

  • Lyn

    I have boxes and boxes of old photographs of everyone in my family, including cousins and close friends who might as well be family. If I do give presents to someone, I use an old photograph of that person as the card on the gift. It makes for easy identification under the tree or after a party – most of the time 🙂

  • Shaun Hoobler

    We used to send holiday cards by mail. Now we only post them on Facebook

  • Nope, I stopped sending Christmas cards back in 1984. I was a newly single mother who was trying to live on a budget for the holidays. I realized the cards amounted to a good sized chunk of my budget and realized they would either be thrown out or stuck in storage somewhere, so I stopped. I told people why and found out they never cared if they got one or not.

    As for gift bags, two years ago I made fabric bags that I reuse and I think look nicer than paper.

  • I have mixed feelings about Christmas cards. I’ve never really sent them because without having any kids to report on it sorta seemed pointless. Though one year I did send out an email with cute pictures of my kitties and little captions of LOLCAT wisdom attached to each one.

    But I do have to say that it’s the people who send Christmas cards that I’ve kept in touch with over the years. I guess most people use FaceBook for that sort of thing, but they pissed me off one too many times so I cancelled my account a few years ago.

    I keep thinking that it would be fun to start a tradition of group emails within various social groups… like send a group email to my old high school gang and encourage people to “reply to all” with what’s up in their lives. Maybe I’ll try it this year…

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