Friday, January 2, 2009

Holiday Greeting Card Survival Tips

I don't know about you, but Christmas seemed to get a little bit away from me this past year. By that I mean that I just didn't have enough time to do everything I wanted to get done before the holidays...

One such project was Christmas cards. I am not a stickler for sending them out every year (it usually depends on whether I have the time to do them), but this Christmas I thought it would be nice to do them. However, there were two factors playing into my decision on how to approach my Christmas cards: time and money. I suspect those same two factors affected many people's decisions about sending Christmas cards.

(Christmas card above designed by my talented friend Heather over at Viva La Diva; she designed then printed these at a local store.)

Hare are some tips and tricks to managing the Christmas card situation.

1. Send a New Year's greeting instead. This allows you some extra time to spend on the other holiday madness and gives you something to do in the down-time that follows the Christmas holiday. Plus, you can include up-to-the-minute pictures from your recent Christmas celebration.

2. Use a photo-printing service to make your cards. Companies like Polka Dot Design, Shutterfly, Costco, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, and more, now offer printing services. You can customize your cards, place an order, and have your cards ready in a short amount of time. If you are using an online service that will deliver the printed product to you, just be sure you've allowed enough time for ordering, printing, and delivery before you need to send them out yourself.

3. Create a mailing list to print mailing labels for your cards. This is a great idea that I've only seen one or two of my friends do. Keep a spreadsheet or database on your computer (in Microsoft Word or Excel) for family and friends' addresses. This is easy to update as needed throughout the year. When it comes time to mail out those cards, simply create a label mailing from your database, print, and have fun sticking all those labels to your envelopes. This is also a great time (and money) saver when sending out party invitations.

4. Send an e-mail card or letter. Once you decide to send a holiday card or letter, the second piece to that decision is the cost of postage. If you are planning to send a lot of cards, this can add up quickly. To save money, consider sending an e-mail card or letter to your family and friends. It will not only save you money; it will also save you the time (and hassle) of addressing all those cards.

5. Save money by purchasing supplies in advance. Do some post-holiday shopping and buy your cards, letters, and envelopes for next year on clearance. This can save you more than 50% of the original retail costs of those supplies! Just don't forget to put them somewhere where you'll remember them (write a date on your new calendar that will remind you pull out those supplies and start working on them!).

For those who prefer to use an online service, create an account in advance, then sit back and watch those e-mail coupon offers to determine the best deal you can get. From personal experience this year, by watching the deals starting in October, you can save more money by ordering earlier rather than right around Christmas.

I hope these ideas are helpful! If you have any additional ideas, please post them in a comment; it's nice to help each other out. If you'll excuse me now, I need to go finish my New Year's greeting cards.

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