I know the holidays are officially over when I take down the Christmas cards decorating the house. They are lined up on our mantle and displayed proudly on our fridge. They featured glittery designs, smiling family photos and messages of “Joy” and “Seasons Greetings.”
I love finding the festive red envelopes in the mailbox on the days leading up to Christmas. It feels like a small gift to receive a personal card sent to our family from friends and loved ones all over the country. Some years we receive 15-20 cards, while other years the cards are less abundant.
A Family Tradition
Growing up my parents always wrote a Christmas letter to send out to our family members. It had a slightly embarrassing “year in review” detailing how my sister and I were playing recreational basketball and had sold a record number of Girl Scout cookies.
Once we were older my parents encouraged us to write our own recap of the year to include in the family letter. I can still remember helping my mom by folding the letters, addressing the envelopes and carefully applying the stamp.
Continuing the Tradition
For the past 15 years, since marrying my high school sweetheart, I’ve continued the tradition of sending out Christmas cards. In the beginning, they were usually a box of cards I picked up at Target, but over the years as our family grew, I started sending out personalized cards featuring adorable pictures of our kids and dogs.
Each year I coordinate some sort of family picture photo shoot. Sometimes we hire a professional photographer or we just find a good family picture to use in the card. I usually search Shutterfly/Tinyprints, Minted, Zazzle or VistaPrint to find the best deal for designing and printing the cards.
Protip: Check Groupon for deals on printing personalized cards. Costco, Walgreens, Target and Walmart also have affordable in-store printing options.
Are Christmas Cards a Thing of the Past?
Old fashioned paper greeting cards still exist, but I have to wonder if they are starting to decline in popularity. With the invention of social media, the ease of email and the immediacy of text messages, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with loved ones all over the world.
I personally love this holiday tradition. Designing the cards is fun and even addressing and stamping envelopes feels therapeutic.
However, many of my friends have chosen to opt-out of this tradition. They say it causes added stress during an already busy time. Or that people already stay connected on social media. They say it’s too expensive.
I completely understand each of these sentiments, but I still love Christmas cards and plan to keep them a part of our family tradition.
Check out these 5 reasons why I still send Christmas cards:
5 Reasons I Still Send Christmas Cards
It’s an excuse to take family pictures.
I absolutely adore having a family photo taken each year. Especially as our family has grown from just the two of us to four-legged friends and now a family of five, these photos become more and more treasured.
Yes, it is stressful to get everyone bathed and in their coordinating outfits, but I fall in love with the photos every year. I usually schedule a photographer to snap some pictures for us at the beginning of fall so that I can get the photos back and order our Christmas cards by Thanksgiving.
I’ve started a new tradition, too where I make a keepsake ornament with our family photo on it as well.
I love receiving and sending happy mail.
Most days the mailbox is full of junk mail and bills. When December rolls around, it’s truly a breath of fresh air to see the hand-addressed cards arriving. I also put a lot of love into my cards before I entrust them into the mail bags of letter carriers nationwide.
I usually get the kids to help with the stamps and licking the envelopes. Then one night I’ll grab a glass of wine, turn up the holiday tunes, and stay up late addressing the mail and writing short personal notes on the cards.
It keeps us connected to old friends.
Our family has moved between 5 different states in the last 15 years. We have friends and relatives scattered all over the place. Despite being connected through Facebook, it’s still nice to reconnect with friends come Christmastime with an old-fashioned letter or card.
I actually use social media to update my contacts and get new mailing addresses for friends who have moved. Postable also offers a free online address book service to keep and request updated mailing addresses from your friends.
I use them as decorations.
Most of the cards we receive feature the gorgeous faces of our friends and family. They are a beautiful tribute to relationships built in many different stages of our lives and in many places.
My kids love to look at the pictures and hear stories about the people- even if they haven’t met them or it’s been many years since the last time we were together.
The cards on my mantle and refrigerator are a reminder of all we have to be thankful for.
It’s an inexpensive way to show people you are thinking of them
As much as I would love to send Christmas surprises to everyone, my budget (and sanity) doesn’t quite allow for that! Instead, Christmas cards are a small way to show others you were thinking of them.
It is something they can hold that invokes feelings of love and happiness. I usually send between 75 and 100 cards each year. When I take into account the cost of a professional photographer, personalized cards, and postage, I probably spend a couple of hundred dollars, but it’s worth it to me.
It’s not a gift, but it is a symbolic gesture and will hopefully brighten the day of the recipient.
So no matter if you send Christmas cards or not, I would love to hear about your favorite holiday traditions. What do you do each year to spread good cheer?
The holiday season can be hectic and crazy, but it’s important to keep traditions alive that bring you joy and retire those that cause you stress.
Allison Anderson lives in Sparks, NV where she and her husband of 15 years are raising 3 kids- Grace, Braxton, and Leif. She considers herself an expert in friend-making and resiliency after 18 coast to coast moves as a military spouse. Allison graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in journalism, but has worked in a slew of positions including public relations for veterinary hospitals, Stroller Strides instructor and online ESL teacher to students in China. To date, motherhood is the best job she’s ever had. She loathes making dinner and vacuuming but encourages splashing during bathtime. She enjoys family camping trips in the RV, cheering for the Buffalo Bills and shopping on Amazon.