The start of December can only mean one thing, it's list-making time for the millions of us who have made it their personal mission to organise the 'perfect Christmas' for their loved ones this year.
Shopping lists, lists for Santa and Christmas to-dos, all form part of the important Christmas planning ritual. But many of us are now starting to overlook one of the most simple and sincere seasonal lists, a list that never fails to spread good will at this time of year- that's right it’s your Christmas card list!
Sending Christmas cards is a centuries old tradition and one that has in recent years fallen into steep decline, as many of us now favour the convenience (but not exactly heartfelt sentiment) of an e-card, dashed out to everyone in our contacts list on Christmas eve.
Photo by: Flood
This post will argue that these electronic, half-hearted attempts at season's greetings simply will not do and will provide you with all the reasons and Christmas card sending etiquette tips you need to make those determined not to send out any cards this year, look like a right miserable, Scrooge!
Christmas card facts and figures
Firstly, here are some facts and figures about the Christmas card industry in this country;
Despite claims that the tradition for sending Christmas cards died with the introduction of social networking sites, fair trade charity, Traidcraft, estimate that UK charities will make over £50 million this year from the sale of charity Christmas cards. The organisation has also created an advert to encourage people to buy real charity Christmas cards, which plays on the idea of 'liking' people's posts on Facebook with the catch line, "If you 'like' someone, post a real card to their wall this year."
According to the GCA Greeting Card Market Report 2012, nearly £1.38 billion was spent on single cards, in the last year.
Britain has the most successful greeting card industry in the world, with each of us sending, on average, 31 greeting cards per year.
The average price of a single Christmas card has risen to £1.52.
91% of over 55's send Christmas cards every year, compared with 72% of 8-24 year olds.
Christmas cards are the most popular form of greeting card in this country, accounting for 45% of all cards sent.
Only 15% of cards are bought by men.
According to figures from YouGov, the average amount of money people plan to spend on cards, decorations and Christmas trees this year is £43.
In 2012, the vast majority of Christmas cards available on the British high street featured secular designs, with only 1.2% of cards depicting the Nativity.
Photo by: rockygirl05
Reasons to send Christmas Cards this Year
There are many reasons, other than spreading merriment, for sending Christmas cards this year;
It requires commitment. The act of choosing a card, buying the stamp, finding the address and remembering to send it in time requires prior planning and a commitment to the Christmas cause. No one likes a grump at this time of year, so if you're finding it hard getting into the spirit of the occasion, writing a dozen Chrimbo cards with a glass of mulled wine one evening should be enough to get you in the mood.
Not everyone you know is on Facebook. For elderly friends and relatives especially, sending and receiving Christmas cards gives them an opportunity to catch up with the people they maybe haven't heard from in months. Make sure you don't forget to include any old folks you might know who live on their own because they truly will appreciate the gesture at this time of year.
Send cards to show your support for charities and artists. There are so many great charity Christmas cards available on the market nowadays, all lovingly designed by talented artists who are just trying to get their work out there, so why not show your support and raise a bit of money for a good cause?
It gives the recipients something to display in their homes. From the moment your first Christmas card drops through your letterbox in early December, the season for decorating your home with tinsel and tat officially begins! Having all of your Christmas cards displayed in your living room also adds to the feel-good vibes of Christmas and makes you feel popular and thought of.
Gives you a chance to catch up on the year's events. With emails and status updates, many of us feel like we're sharing everything that's going on in our lives, as and when it happens. And although communicating in this way at times can be a good thing, stopping and taking stock of your feelings and achievements can be a great way to reflect and share with your nearest and dearest a more honest and intimate glimpse of your goings on for the year.
It gives you a chance to update your address book. Many of those who say they don’t send Christmas cards anymore cite not having their friend's and family's updated addresses as their excuse. But with Peopletracer's address finder you can find these lost details in seconds. Updating your address book at Christmas will also ensure that you have everyone's details in time for the New Year. So if you wanted to send any party invites or birthday presents in the following months, you can mark these dates on your calendar and be organised in advance.
Christmas Card Sending Etiquette
Now that hopefully you have read enough good reasons to send a batch of Christmas cards this year, there are just a few points of card-sending etiquette to adhere to, to make sure that your seasons' greetings have the maximum effect. They are as follows;
Make sure you send Christmas cards to people you won't see over the holidays.
You don't have to send Christmas cards to your neighbours or work colleagues, if you’re likely see them at some point over the Christmas period. Although go ahead if you're feeling extra generous with your Christmas cheer.
If you have sent a card to someone for the last two years and they haven't returned the favour, then you are welcome to take them off your Christmas list.
If you know someone who has gone through a major loss this year, then it is polite to acknowledge that you are thinking of them at this time of year.
Send cards to elderly friends or relatives, even if you don’t get a card in return. They may not be able to afford to send you one, or they may have mobility issues that hinder them from writing or getting out to post them, but they will still appreciate receiving them.
To ensure that your recipient has ample time to reply to your card, make sure that your cards are all sent in early-mid December.
Write personalised messages in all of your Christmas cards and hand-write them, rather than getting labels printed. This will give your cards the personal touch.