Christmas CardsThis morning the hubster left for work bearing several holiday cards to mail to loved ones. He’s the in-house expert card “autographer” while the “royal we” takes care of all card messaging and her own autographs.

Holiday cards add an element of whimsy to our lives. If you want to pen some holiday cheer this season, it’s not too late.

First things first

Consider who will receive your season’s greetings. Are you sending holiday cards to all of your professional and personal contacts? Just your professional network? Only family and friends who live far away? Just people who you see regularly? Some combination of these options?

Select the right medium for your message

After identifying your recipients, select a medium for your message. To share a snapshot of your kids covered in play dough, glossy photo cards or photo frame cards should do the trick. Perhaps your style is more along the lines of the family newsletter that includes Rover’s four-legged feats. Maybe a simple “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” message is more your speed.

Hint: If sending cards to professional contacts and family and friends, consider purchasing two types of cards – one for your professional network and one for loved ones.

The all-important writing device

Select a few pens that are dedicated to holiday card-writing (at least for the time being). Red, green, silver, and gold inks are rather jazzy.

Address herding

Keeping track of others’ addresses can sometimes feel like herding cats. But this is the year that’s going to change.

  • Address as many envelopes as possible using the contact information you already have.
  • Then fire up your computer and, using this handy sample as your guide, enter the addresses referenced above into your very own 2009 Holiday Card Addresses and Notes spreadsheet.
  • Next, call or email the intended card recipients whose addresses are a bit of a mystery. Once they provide their addresses, add them to your handy spreadsheet (and their holiday card envelopes).
  • You may also want to use your spreadsheet to track who sent cards to you.
  • Looking ahead: At this time next year, your spreadsheet will confirm who received your 2009 holiday cards.

Hint: Update your spreadsheet throughout the year whenever someone notifies you of a new address. Then your address herding will be virtually non-existent next December.

How orderly!

Finishing touches

Don’t skip out on the return address. It gives the recipient easy access to your address and helps the postal carrier return the card to you if there’s a delivery problem.

Accessorize your envelopes. Every year, the folks at the United States Postal Service create seasonal stamps designed specifically for our holiday card rituals. They cost the same as standard stamps and are oh, so festive.

Hint: Purchase your holiday stamps online. They’ll be delivered to your mailbox for a nominal fee – and there’s no waiting in line.

* Photos by Jonathan Eggers