If there's anything likely to destroy peace on earth and goodwill toward anyone during the holiday season, it's sending holiday cards.
According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans will send more than 4.5 billion cards and letters this holiday season. About 2.6 billion of those will be Christmas cards, which breaks down to 38 cards per household in the United States. Another 48 million were to be sent out for Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and New Year's.
You haven't even started?
Finding time to send out greetings - for Christmas, for Hanukkah, for whatever the holiday - can be the toughest part. There are so many other seasonal tasks to be done: buying a tree, decorating, organizing get-togethers, planning meals, buying presents, wrapping presents, making cookies, trying to get work done in preparation for the days when business grinds to a halt ...
To help you survive the blizzard of envelopes and flurry of stamps, here are some tips to clear your path to the post office:
Buy more than one box of cards. It's hard to find one message to suit everyone on your list. Get one set of traditional cards with a religious message or holiday scene and another set of humorous or contemporary cards. If buying two boxes leaves you with way too many cards, buy one set and swap half the box with a friend or family member who purchased a different kind. Card companies are putting out cards for other holidays, too. Ask clerks where they have Hanukkah cards placed, and whether they carry Kwanzaa or winter-solstice cards.
Solve the card-choice dilemma by personalizing your cards. Surely everyone on your card list would enjoy a card featuring a picture of you and your family. Kinko's stores now offer a way to use photo disks from digital cameras to create personalized cards. The stores can print the pictures from the disks onto photographic paper. Then customers can customize them by adding borders or holiday images. Customers also can bring in traditional photos to use. The cards are printed on glossy card stock, and you can add a greeting inside or leave the card blank for a personal message.
Customize and order cards online. Hallmark.com offers a service that lets card buyers choose messages, fonts, colors and holiday images through the Web site. The service will even address the envelopes. The cards can be delivered two days after ordering - along with stamps ordered from the site.
Try out electronic cards if you want to send fun greetings to some friends through e-mail. Many e-card companies offer holiday fare. But think about who you send these too. Some people feel that e-cards are impersonal.
If it's hard to find the time to finish your cards, take a few minutes each night - or two or three times a week - to do four or five cards. Don't push yourself to do them all at once. Complete your set amount and put the rest away for the next night so that you can come back to them fresh and not harried. Be sure to schedule well enough in advance to get all of the cards finished and mailed in time for the holidays.
If you can find a block of time on a weekend, have a card party. Invite friends, and tell them to bring their cards and address books. Then open some bottles of wine and get into the holiday spirit while all of you work on cards together. To keep everyone focused, offer a prize for the person who writes the most cards. Toss leftover cards in a box for others to choose from next year.
Reach Alisa DeMao at (706) 823-3223 or firstname.lastname@example.org.