17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Wide World of Christmas Cards

Starting December 1st, I eagerly wait to hear the mail to drop into our mailbox (our house was built in the 30's so the mail gets dropped in a box that we can access from inside the house - not a mailbox out on the street - it's so cool). December is the time of the year when there is an influx of good old fashioned mail. Seeing the handwritten envelopes amid the sea of junk mail and bills brings me so much delight.

It is interesting to me the wide variety of Christmas cards that get sent to us each year. Our friends with children send cards with pictures, or cards that are pictures. Very few of them include pictures with the parents included. Our single friends, "married with no kids" friends, and empty-nest family tend to send more traditional cards with a nice holiday message and most often include a hand written note. Some people send out a copied "Christmas Letter" highlighting the events of the year. We get this one letter every year that fills an 8 1/2"x 11" page, both sides, single spaced. I admit to skimming that one. Eye yie yie. Some are hand addressed, some use labels. Some are hand-signed, some are completely printed top to bottom. Some cards integrate beautiful holiday art and good graphic design, some are simple photo postcards.

All the variety makes me think about what kinds of Christmas cards I enjoy receiving the most.

My favorites are the hand addressed, hand signed, beautifully designed Christmas cards with a nice, personalized Christmas message that somehow also includes a picture and a short update on the family (if we are not in constant communication). That is a great Christmas card. The amount of time it takes to send out such a card makes these few and far between.

My Christmas card is usually a postcard that I design and get printed. I try to incorporate pictures of the family in a fun way. They usually get hand addressed and hand signed, but rarely more. Some years I have included a separate family update letter. This year I have composed one that reads more like bullet points, going month by month and I tried to add just a little humor so it's worth the read *crossing fingers that people won't roll their eyes and have to skim*.

I recently got a Christmas card from Kage and all that was handwritten was "Come Home!". It wasn't much, but it was just perfect. It meant a lot to see her writing and know that message was just for our family. I have made it a goal this year to add at least a short personal note to each one of the cards I send out. Because isn't that what Christmas cards are for? To personally connect with friends in family? It seems to me, sending out completely impersonal cards doesn't seem much better than sending out no cards at all.

What kinds of cards do you like to get and how does that compare to the kind of card you send out? Or do you think sending out cards is a pointless, time and money wasting tradition all together?

Oh, and as a side note, I thought I didn't have a problem with women who don't change their last name, but after spending last night addressing my Christmas cards, you are really causing me problems. Especially when you have kids. How am I supposed to address your card? Huh? For the love of Christmas card addressers everywhere, does someone know the etiquette?


  • I would hyphenate, even if they don't. For example, John Doe and Jane Smith are married and have children. I would address the card "The Doe-Smith Family" and if you are a feminist you can address it "The Smith-Doe Family" :)

    p.s. I always love your Christmas cards.
    posted by Anonymous brenbot at 12/14/2006 08:41:00 AM  

  • I am an 8.5"x11" one side single spaced plus a picture printed onto the paper kind of a Christmas greeting sender. I have written a letter every year since 2002 - since my first baby was born just after Christmas 2001.

    I am a letter writer, and my favorite greeting to receive is also letters. I love to hear the details of my friends' and family's lives, even if I already know everything that is written in the letter. My least favorite is just a store bought card signed "Love the Smith Family". I appreciate "making the list" but it seems almost pointless. At least send a picture! Or a little note!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 08:50:00 AM  

  • I love receiving the Christmas cards that either have a photo included or are part of the card itself. I also love getting a single page family update letter that just highlights the happenings of the family (not what types of gardening methods they used this year--I get 1 letter every year that is all about farming from 1 family.) I hand address all my envelopes, but do not write a personal message because I think it takes away from the photo card. I don't like address labels on Christmas cards, it just seems to inpersonal to me. Several of my family members have kept their maiden name and then go on to have children. I just hyphenate the names on the envelope.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 09:10:00 AM  

  • Carrie, you had to add that little snippet of controversy in there didn't you (about names?) ; )

    I am glad you liked my note. I am sure you get weary of my teasing, but I want you to know that I didn't just wake up the day after you left town and say: "Oh, I am totally ok with this and everything is normal without C's family!"

    As for letters: I like reading the letters depending on who it is from, but I especially like creativity:

    eg. Krista usually re-writes a Christmas song or poem, that is totally awesome and creative.

    Or, the letter is written by each member of the family, this is fun if there is a wide variety of ages.

    Or, I like when there is a list of activities for each child, or fun ditties or phrases from the year.

    I like a good photo. This was the first year in a while that we had the WHOLE family in ours, not just kids. You and Chloe like to do a bunch of photos, and that is way fun too, and I have tried to do that in the past but I don't got the skeelz.

    I am also a fan of photoshopped cards. I think last year C you had a fam send you one with a Tree on Water and the family in the foreground? And this year my lil sis suspended her new baby on the tree (in miniature) AND in the air, as an angel...it was cool.

    I think the moral of my comment is that I really enjoy creativity in a card, esp. now-a-days when there are ideas abounding. Maybe next year we do this post in Nov., and have a Christmas card CONTEST...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/14/2006 09:17:00 AM  

  • One more thing....what are your personal rules on your message?
    Happy Holidays vs Merry Christmas?
    Ho Ho Ho vx. Happy Birthday Jesus?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/14/2006 09:18:00 AM  

  • For families where the husband decides not to change his name ;), you should just address the envelope to both of their full names with an "AND" in betwen them: Mary Smith and John Doe. So simple. Nothing tricky here, folks.

    If you take the time to get this detail correct, they will greatly appreciate it. Just think about how much it bugs you when someone spells your name wrong (Kerry or Keri or Carey or whatever).

    So many people get it wrong, or think it doesn't matter, so when someone does do it right it means a lot. It means that "WOW! They care about me enough to get it right!"
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 12:03:00 PM  

  • to anonymous,

    Its only common sense if you're addressing it to just the two to use their full names. But what if you are addressing it to the whole family? Is it that bad to hyphenate or combine their last names? Doe-Smith family or Smith and Doe Family.

    Oh and people always spell my name wrong and it doesn't bother me. Its not a big deal
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 12:41:00 PM  

  • Anon,

    In my opinion, hyphenating a family's name is comparable to spelling someone's name wrong.

    Your idea does not address double last name families with children. I think that it is most difficult when they have only one child because writing "and Family" at the end seems weird when you are only referring to one person.
    posted by Anonymous brenbot at 12/14/2006 12:43:00 PM  

  • The simple rule above (write out both of their full names) also applies when one, or both, of the them have elected to hyphenate:

    1-Mary Smith-Doe and John Smith-Doe
    2-Mary Smith-Doe and John Smith
    3-Mary Smith and John Doe-Smith

    It doesn't matter if you put the wife or the husband's name first. Whatever is your preference.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 12:43:00 PM  

  • NOT comparable. sorry. i swear i proof read.
    posted by Anonymous brenbot at 12/14/2006 12:46:00 PM  

  • I don't see a problem with just addressing it to the parents--isn't it just assumed that the card is for the kids, too?

    But adding "and family" to the end of the line is fine, if you're worried about the kids. Even with just one kid it's fine.

    Trust me, if you get both the wife and husband's name right, they'll be so happy that they don't notice the rest of what you put anyway.

    And tamrobot--while you may not care if someone spells your name wrong, a lot of people do. It's an important marker of identity and familiarity for many people.

    I think if you don't know someone well enough to know how to spell their name right--you probably shouldn't be sending them a Christmas card anyway. Not knowing the correct spelling would seem to imply a pretty casual relationship, but maybe that's just me.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 12:51:00 PM  

  • Wait--what isn't comparable? I'm confused.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 12:53:00 PM  

  • I'm jealous of your mailbox by the way. So cool!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 01:16:00 PM  

  • I absolutely love getting christmas cards in the mail. It's the only time of the year that I look forward to mail! I like cards with a personal note, either written or typed, as a nice way to catch up with what's going on. I usually type up a small(1/4 of 8.5x11) letter to let people who we don't see often know what is going on. I'm not a big fan of christmas emails, but I guess everyone does their own thing. Although I do enjoy christmas letters, some are just too much....you should never mention square footage/acreage or income....it's tacky! ;o)
    posted by Anonymous Eskinose Kisses at 12/14/2006 01:34:00 PM  

  • ek-you have gotten a letter that says square footage and income? Seriously?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/14/2006 02:27:00 PM  

  • I, too, love getting Christmas cards in the mail, but honestly, I don't care how you decide to send it off from your end. Of course it's great to see a picture or get a note, but this time of year is CRAZY and can be stressful for some families, so just getting a card out AT ALL may be a huge accomplishment. I feel grateful to be remembered and grateful for any effort being put into a card.

    It's just nice to hear from people that I haven't heard from in awhile... no matter what.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 12/14/2006 02:42:00 PM  

  • disclaimer: i'm in a grumpy mood. administrator - feel free to delete if I am breaching blogging code of conduct, but I can't. help. myself...

    I think people who get offended about a holiday card with their name spelled or hyphened incorrectly shouldn't be your friends and don't deserve greeting cards.

    I also think people who care so much about names, their identity, and familiarity so much should probably not post anonymously.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/14/2006 02:53:00 PM  

  • I send out 200 count em 200 cards every year, hand written on the envelopes and hand written note to each and every one of them... I continue to do it every year with the hope that people like Carrie will appreciate it. Last year I nearly broke my back on my cards and almost didn't send them ever again, but it was the few phone calls that I recieved saying how great they were. I for one appreciate all the cards I recieve. Long, short, annoying, simple. I know too many people that don't give a hoot about sending anything... that makes me sad!
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 12/14/2006 03:16:00 PM  

  • I agree with Zinone....love them all and appreciate whatever, even if it's just my address on an envelope. I think that does say something...we've all got "lives" and we do what we can.
    posted by Anonymous msl at 12/14/2006 03:28:00 PM  

  • I also think you should appreciate whatever anyone sends you. I'm not gonna be disappointed in anyone's effort to send me a card (or wish they hadn't sent one in the first place all because they didn't hand write something, or include a picture). It truly is the thought that counts. Who am I to judge someone's Christmas card effort.
    posted by Anonymous jenny d. at 12/14/2006 03:59:00 PM  

  • I got my first Christmas Card email 3 years ago from some friends that I really like. I thought maybe they didn't feel like I deserved an actual card and I felt put out. Since then I have received many more Christmas emails as well as cards that I have appreciated or not appreciated. The key (like everyone says) is to make it personalized to your family and yourself. I always try to think about the people who will be reading my message and I want to make them smile. I try to err on the side of humor and give less of the mundane. Actually, I haven't sent Christmas cards for a few years but I think I'm back on the wagon this year.

    My favorite Christmas card each year is from my sister in Minnesota who I don't see very often. She writes in a way that I see her family and life through her eyes.

    Others send yearly picture and a greeting to let me know they still think of me and I appreciate that too.

    My other thought is that I appreciate it when current information about the writer is on the card/newletter in case the envelope is lost.
    posted by Blogger Shaleen at 12/14/2006 06:23:00 PM  

  • Z, I remember your Christmas card last year and it was SO beautiful that it was one of few that I kept from the Christmas batch. So your efforts did not go unnoticed!

    I too appreciate every card/picture that I get at Christmas time (even the one I got from my realtor today) because someone remembered me and took the time to put it in the mail for my family.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 12/14/2006 06:29:00 PM  

  • My last comment about the names was said in a 95% joking manner. I know how riled up some can get. From your advice, I think I did pretty good with my addresses. But Anon, it does get trickier with the children because I do like to include them on the envelope and that makes the top line really long - that's mostly why my comment was 5% not a joke - I get annoyed that visually, the super long first line is not balanced by the rest of the address. But who cares really except for a "visual" person. And I do realize this does not compare at all to a person's "name identity and familiarity". So don't get yourself in a huff.

    I also get a little stuck with names of people from my husband's work. He knows them well, I do not, but he does not pay very good attention to the whole name thing going on with their spouse. So, Anon you have to admit it can be tricky, but I agree with you that it is a good idea to take the time to make it right. Heaven knows I tried. Hopefully it is good enough.

    And don't get me wrong everyone, I love Christmas cards in any form. I've sent out Christmas e-mails before and cards with printed signatures. I totally understand how busy everyone is around this time and I appreciate every single one that makes it to my cool mailbox. But that doesn't mean I can't have my favorites! And thinking about what I really love about each Christmas card that gets sent to me has helped me make sending out my cards not just a huge task on my "to-do" list, but a meaningful part of the Christmas Season.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 12/14/2006 07:17:00 PM  

  • Kage-
    As a matter of fact, we got a christmas letter just last year that specified the acreage of their new house to the exact decimal! Seriously! I just think it's tacky because when you mention square footage/acreage, you're implying income. Although it is the thought that counts, I must admit that I don't enjoy the letters that are more bragging as much as I enjoy letters that are talking about their life in the past year.
    posted by Anonymous Eskinose Kisses at 12/14/2006 10:30:00 PM  

  • EK,

    I completely agree. I LOVE getting Christmas cards of ALL kinds...except the ones that are brag sheets....nothing wrong with sharing good news....but it can go too far!
    posted by Blogger Jen at 12/15/2006 06:15:00 AM  

  • Eskimo Kisses, I've got the winner! Last year we got a Christmas card/letter from friends who live in San Ramon (very close to San Francisco) stating that their townhome is now worth nearly $1 million and aren't they so lucky. Then they included a map showing how close their house was to the city, how many people live in their city and again...how much their townhouse currently appraises for . They were not trying to sell it, merely BRAGGING. So low class!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 12/15/2006 09:20:00 AM  

  • LOVE Christmas cards with pictures (just kids, whole family, whatever) and a letter update. Some families and friends I don't see all year --and the update is something I REALLY look forward to...

    I'm also an avid letter writer myself --and we send pictures of the kids in a nice card. I admit I don't take the time to personally write a message to everybody, but I try to make it look nice.

    Question: (possible threadjack--sorry Carrie! Oh, and thanks for Disneyland yesterday --we loved seeing you and the kiddies...)

    How do people feel about New Year's letters? We are experiencing MASSIVE changes in our family and since we don't know what that announcement will be until probably after Christmas (including new address, etc.), I have decided to write our Christmas letters/cards as New Year's ones so I don't have to re-contact everyone we know with our new information (no worries, it's not to brag, just to mention we live in another state :) --chloe, that was VERY low class of your friends!)...

    Anyway, is that tacky?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/15/2006 09:29:00 AM  

  • My question is what do you do with all the cards afterwards? Do you keep them all? I think my husband and I are paranoid about keeping stuff because my Dad and my DH's Mom are pack rats. We usually err on getting rid of things rather than keeping them.

    I mean, is it okay to throw them away after the holidays, or is that offensive? What do you all do?
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/15/2006 09:34:00 AM  

  • Kage,

    I think I understand your question. Every year I wonder about sending my "Merry Christmas" cards to those on our list that are Jewish or aethist, or other non-christmas celebrating folk. Is it annoying to them? I know I could change my message to Happy Holidays to be more inclusive, but I do like the (subtle) Christ message. Now I usually include Merry Christmas and another more inclusive greeting on my card to cover everyone.


    Last year I did not send out Christmas cards because we also were moving soon after. I sent out card at the end of January with a short update on the family and our new info. So no, I don't think it's tacky. I just thought of it as killing two birds with one stone - "christmas card" and "we've moved card" all in one.

    I also remember one year, DH's sister sent out Valentines day cards instead of Christmas cards because she got too busy. I thought it was cute and nice surprise to get that special piece of mail in February.


    I keep my favorite cards with pictures in a special box after I make sure the family's name and the year is written somewhere on the picture. It's nice to look back on old friends. The cool cards get kept for kids crafting purposes and the others get thrown away. I don't feel bad about it. I read somewhere about recycling them as holiday cards the next year by either turning them into postcards (non photo cards of course) or just crossing out the old message and writing in your own. Seems a little tacky but I think adding a cute little stamp that says "Recycled Giftcard", the right recipient would appreciate the reuse.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 12/15/2006 09:52:00 AM  

  • Cheryl, I like the idea of new years cards, and I almost brought it up...I don't think it's a threadjack....Disneyland maybe, but not New Year cards ; )

    Anyway, one year an aunt sent a really cool one about the Olympics in SLC b/c it was around that time of year, and that was cool b/c it was wintery and holiday, but not necessarily Christmasy.
    Last year I kept all my cards b/c I didn't have time to organize wnew/wrong/changed addresses during December. I pulled them out this year and it was really fun to look at them again, and then compare them to the card THIS Year....and then I got rid of them. I usually keep a few faves for the scrapbook and then toss the rest. I like the idea of crafting them though...and when my kids get older, I am open to that.

    On another note, I asked my firend who has kept her last name about the name etiquette thing, and she seemed more bugged by improper grammer than improper naming. eg. Love, The Smith's vs. The Smiths. To each his own.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/15/2006 11:10:00 AM  

  • Jen-I'm totally not in love with brag letters so I'm pretty paranoid when it comes to writing our own letter. I keep it short, sweet and to the point!

    Chloe-I think that letter really does take the cake for bad form in a christmas letter. ;o) I've never heard of attaching a map! That's fabulously tacky!

    As for new years' letters, I have one friend who intentionally does a new years card/letter every year and I always look forward to getting it. It's the last hurrah of the christmas card season.

    And this may be lame, but I keep my christmas cards and use them the following year for gift tags...not the written on part, of course, just the picture (or part of picture)and I write to, from, etc. on the back of it, just like a traditional gift tag. And I don't usually use the whole card, just a portion of it. My version of card recycling.
    posted by Anonymous Eskinose Kisses at 12/15/2006 02:34:00 PM  

  • Just sent out our Christmas cards today! (before reading this post even...thank heavens I wrote notes in all of yours!)
    I am not creative, but I LOVE creative Christmas cards. I am not artistic, but LOVE the artistic cards. Not really all that thoughtful, but a thoughtful card brightens my life. So am I just lame? Can I just appreciate that all my friends posess all the aforementioned qualities?
    I was stressing about cards this year, then I stopped myself and said "OK - this is not my strength, but instead of giving up I am going to send a simple card to everyone we love to let them know they are in our thoughts and hearts". I just don't like when people stress too much over it. I love all my Christmas cards! And each card I get totally matches the personality of the one sending...so dear.
    Also, after some deep thought I decided to put "Merry Christmas" on our card this year. It went to a lot of Jewish ppl too (I just moved from NYC) - but I decided that I am celebrating the truly beautiful gift of our Savior at this time of year and that all those I was sending it to know that I am a Christian and celebrate Christmas. I would certainly not be offended if I got a Happy Hannukah card from friends. Am I so un PC?
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 12/15/2006 09:26:00 PM  

  • I'm not sure about the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas when sending to Jewish/non-Christian friends. I guess you have to know your audience. (i.e) Some of the Jewish people I know couldn't care less and others would be highly offended. Although being too strict with the PC stuff is lame, I can understand why some Jews have a hard time with Christmas references....
    posted by Blogger Jen at 12/16/2006 06:15:00 AM  

  • I personally write happy holidays. I may say something like, "we're having a wonderful christmas..... happy holidays from us". So I will mention that we are celebrating christmas, but also acknowledge that I know that not everyone does. I don't know... I think that sometimes people may feel like you don't really know them that well, or aren't being thoughtful of the holiday that they celebrate, if you're sending them a merry christmas card and they're jewish, etc. I personally wouldn't be offended by a hanukah card, but that doesn't mean some people might be.... like the name spelling thing mentioned above.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 12/16/2006 03:01:00 PM  

  • I'm coming to this conversation too late, so this comment is perhaps pointless, but . . .

    I hate to say it, this post has confirmed my worst fear about sending out Christmas cards: that someone somewhere will receive my card/letter and think something negative of what I've sent. It paralyzes me. I don't want to send anything if even one recipient is going to think something along the lines of "This letter is too long," or "too boring," or "why are they sending a picture of just their kid . . . "
    posted by Blogger sunny at 12/19/2006 03:16:00 PM  

  • Sunny - who cares? (me actually, I am scared for the same reasons, but really want to get over that fear). Even if there are ppl who think the letter is long or boring or both, there will be plenty who appreciate it.
    You only send Christmas cards to people you love - letting someone know they are being thought of this time of year is awesome. If they choose to snub it, that is their problem. Personally, I love all my Christmas cards because as I mentioned before, they each match the style of the person sending the card. I love it! You had so many cool things happen in your life this year, don't be ashamed to share your fun experiences!
    To be safe, don't do a brag sheet with square footage (although living in Japan, your square footage inclusion may be in the context of "can you believe we live in something that is only___ sq.ft.?)
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 12/19/2006 04:04:00 PM  

  • "I don't want to send anything if even one recipient is going to think something along the lines of "This letter is too long," or "too boring," or "why are they sending a picture of just their kid . . . " '"

    Sunny seriously? even 1 person? Wow....I don't think I could ever please EVERYONE!!!

    I find this thread to be pretty light-hearted actually. I think many of us are focusing on the positive: cards that have stood out over time, and why...whether it's for good or for bad.

    Don't let it paralyze you!!! Just send what's in your heart!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 12/19/2006 04:32:00 PM  

  • Sunny,

    I am so sorry if this is what the post and comments has made you feel. Not the point of it. What caused me to write this post in the first place was the seeing "send out Christmas cards" on my to-do list and dreading it. That made me think. This shouldn't be a task that I dread. I love receiving Christmas cards! So I decided to examine what I love most about the ones I receive in an effort to put more meaning into the ones that I send. Does that make any sense? What I loved to get was not what I was sending out which is why I dreaded the process. Whatever you decide to send out is fantastic. I was just searching for ways to make what I send out a more meaningful product and process.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 12/19/2006 05:33:00 PM  

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