My love of paper, letters, and snail mail is well documented in these parts. There is no other word than “special” that describes the feeling one experiences upon receiving a personalized note after a long day’s work. And I think we all agree — it’s nice to be thought of and the holidays are the perfect time to let our loved ones know how much they mean to us. Cards are one of the best ways to do this.
Ever since I was a child (and I’m talking around 8 years old or so), I looked forward to penning a note, sealing an envelope, sticking a stamp, and sending it off to my friends. Although I may not have been able to articulate it then, I’m pretty sure I found the process grounding and meditative. It was my form of yearly reflection. Some do resolutions. I do cards. (See #1 below.)
Twenty-plus years later, I still can’t wait to send a holiday card. And, after much practice, I’ve developed a system of tips and tricks to keep it fresh. The last thing you want is your letter writing to feel like a chore or a mass-mailing.
7 Tips & Tricks for Writing the Best Holiday Cards
1. Many people recommend that you start writing your holiday letter the first week of December if not sooner (yikes!). I say, “Great, if you can do that and your schedule allows.” But don’t feel pressure to drop things into the mailbox if you’re not ready.
Hanukkah and Christmas sneak up on all of us. So in 2007, when law firm life got the best of me, I shifted gears and instead sent New Year’s cards. Giving myself the extra time helped restore the joy of holiday cards. Plus, you can stand out in the crowd when your note arrives a little later in the season, keeping the cheer alive.
Take away: If you still want to send cards, there’s plenty of time.
2. Whether you prefer family photo cards or traditional ones, I recommend heading to Target to purchase a few boxes. Without fail, I underestimate the number of cards I’ll need each year and I love that I can always find ones that are a high on design, but low in price. So, I stock up on the store’s paper atelier-like options. And any extras I don’t send, I use to adorn presents or deliver to co-workers.
Take Away: Target stocks its shelves with boutique-like holiday cards all season long, so grab a few boxes to send to loves ones or have on hand for the many holiday parties that are on the horizon.
3. Or...make your own cards. There is no rule that you have to send pre-made ones. Use your resident artist (a.k.a. your child) and have him paint original designs. Kid Made Modern’s water color paper is of a heavier weight but feels soft, so it makes a luxe card. This year we hand painted letters to Santa.
4. Next, set the stage so card writing is a breeze. My writing mojo is thrown off when I have to address envelopes and affix stamps between each note. I groan. So, I prep by getting these boring elements out of the way.
Before sitting down to pen my letters, I address and stamp all the envelopes in advance. Then, I simply pull from the pre-addressed pile to know whom I should write, put pen to paper, then stuff the envelope. If I did it the other way, I’d have a lot of notes that would collect dust waiting for me to address them.
Take Away: Create a system for what you deem the less exciting parts of letter writing. Attack it first, so you don’t feel burdened when you sit down to write.
5. Look to the season to inspire your writing. Personally, I think holiday cards should be cheerful. To ensure I’m in a happy mood, I set up shop in my living room. I light the Christmas tree, play Christmas music from my phone, and I snack on a few cookies. Sweet sustenance is key. ; )
Take Away: Create an inspiring space for writing your cards.
6. So no two cards are alike, have a few approaches in mind when writing: Share your funniest moment from the year, draw up a top 10 list, include an appropriate quote. And, of course, end on a personal note that is specific to the recipient and comes from the heart.
Take Away: Keep it simple and have fun — it’s all about connecting and sending hugs from afar.
7. If you think holiday cards sneak up on you, thank you notes certainly do. Get a leg up by purchasing your thank you cards when you pick out your holiday ones at Target. Now that you have them, it will be easy to sit down and share your gratitude for gifts or parties while the excitement you feel is fresh.
Thanks to Target, a store we shop at (all the time!) and adore, for sponsoring this post and supporting the work of Salt & Nectar. Of course, all opinions are 100% are own. Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season.
~ The Other Sarah