25 December 2010

The Flip Side of Being Carded

First things first -- Merry Christmas!

And while we're talking about Christmas...I love sending out Christmas cards. I mean, I really, really love it. I take an inordinate amount of pride in putting everything together. I like to imagine that recipients see the envelope from us in their mailboxes and get giddy with excitement because they know something special is inside. (I have no idea if that is true for even one of our hundred or so recipients, but I like to imagine....)

You see, we don't just sign a card and throw it in an envelope. We send a letter printed on holiday paper, which we sign (sometimes with a hand-written note), and a personalized photo card. (In the early days, when we were still figuring this stuff out, I would use a picture card, a Christmas letter, and a regular greeting card, where we would write a short note and sign. That was too much.) Here's what we sent out this year:

I don't want to discourage anyone from sending out similar holiday mailings, since I love receiving holiday letters and picture cards as much as I love sending them (maybe even more), but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a ton of work. All told, it's easily 20 hours of work, including the following:
  • taking the picture (this year's took five shoots and at least 60 takes -- animals increase the difficulty exponentially -- although some years we go with something that we already have, e.g., from a trip or a race)
  • writing the letter (I keep notes all year long and start writing around October)
  • finding just the right coordinating paper and picture card (paper from Target or Hobby Lobby, picture card from Costco)
  • formatting and printing the letter
  • printing the recipients' address labels (after updating the excel file of names and addresses; this is a huge time-saver and saves me from accidentally sending two to the same person, as I did a few years ago)
  • stamping the envelopes with our return address stamp
  • putting postage stamps on each envelope
  • signing the letters
  • stuffing the envelopes, licking, and sealing
Here's a visual representation of everything that goes into it:

Oh, and since the manufacturer of our personalized address stamp (Three Designing Women) has a bunch of fun ink colors and stamp sets, I swapped in a holiday design and red ink to add a festive touch to the backs of the envelopes as well:

If you're wondering, the cost of the whole mailing breaks down as follows:
  • $50 for postage (and increasing every time another friend moves overseas!)
  • $25 for 125 Costco picture cards (including envelopes)
  • $10 for 105 sheets of holiday paper
  • a couple of dollars for a few sheets of address labels
  • this year, about $20 for the colored ink and holiday stamp set, which should last through multiple years (I already had the stamper and black ink)
At about $1 per letter, that's not bad for the most meaningful gift we give each year. We get more picture cards than letter paper and give the additional cards (minus one, which I'll explain later) to co-workers. For the hundred or so cards we send out each year, we receive approximately 40. And that's okay. For us, it isn't about getting anything in return. Rather, we think of each card as a small, homemade gift to people we care about, who hopefully get some measure of holiday joy from receiving it. It's like baking cookies, but for the heart instead of the taste buds (and way easier to mail to out-of-town family and friends).

So, may your day be filled with homemade cookies, both literal and metaphorical, and all of the best things the season can bring.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome - I love your cards - and agree that sending them is so fulfilling...