Sending Christmas cards is one of the first traditions many will observe in the run up to Christmas. Whether it's a specially designed family photo card or a simple card from a supermarket multi-pack, we all appreciate the gesture and get a warm feeling from knowing that we are in someone else's thoughts at Christmas.
Sending Christmas cards is also a great excuse to get in touch with people you haven't spoken to all year or maybe for a few years. However, finding these people – especially those who may have moved house – isn't always easy.
But don't let circumstances and excuses like 'drifting apart,' stop you from tracking them down and sending them a card this Christmas. There are plenty of reasons why you should and plenty of ways to find the contact information you need to do it.
This guide will provide you with the tools and advice you need to get your Christmas card list in order this festive season.
Sending cards to loved ones at Christmas
Posting cards to friends and family members is much more thoughtful and personalised than sending a quick festive Facebook or e-card message. For older friends/relatives especially, taking the time to handwrite some words about your year and well wishes is a tradition they will be accustomed to seeing and they will really appreciate the gesture even if they can't, for whatever reason, send you a card in return.
To help you brush up on the niceties of card sending, here are some tips:
Send cards to the people you won't see to wish a Happy Christmas to in person. You don't necessarily need to send cards to those you will spend the holiday with.
It is a good idea to send Christmas cards to all of your elderly friends and relatives, even if you don't talk that often, as you are unlikely to have a digital relationship with them over Facebook or email and so they will appreciate this extra line of communication.
Sign and address your cards in your best handwriting rather than using labels, as this gives a more personalised touch.
Send your cards in the post before, mid-December. This will give your recipients plenty of time to send you a card back.
Remember that Christmas cards do not require you to acknowledge receipt or send one in return; it is completely up to you if you want to reply.
Include your address in the card, so that your recipients can return the favour if they wish.
For more on why you should consider sending a batch of Christmas cards this year, check out this previous post from the Peopletracer blog.
Catching up with old friends
When we were younger, many of us found it easier to make friends and keep in touch with them. This is because school, college, university and after school clubs etc… put us in regular contact with like-minded people.
However, as we progress in the adult world, it can be argued that our friendship pool becomes significantly smaller, as we have less time to socialise, what with jobs and responsibilities taking up most of our time. Plus, we become more independent and less in need of a huge friendship group surrounding us at all times.
However, thinking back to the list of friends we had when we were younger, many of these people may have fallen out of our close circles, not through hard feelings or lack of things in common, but through plain old laziness about keeping in touch. And yes, that counts for both parties being too lazy to pick up the phone, yet, no one is really to 'blame' when friends drift apart.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you’re unable to do anything to change that. Why not reconnect with them this Christmas with a simple card in the post? It may be a small gesture, but it could just give you the perfect excuse to rekindle those friendship flames.
Using Peopletracer's address finder to get back in touch
Peopletracer is designed to help you track down the contact details of long-lost friends based on information submitted to the electoral roll.
With a subscription to one of our search packages, you gain access to the edited electoral register. From even the smallest piece of information you have, like a name and surname, simply type it into the search bar and Peopletracer will get to work on gathering the contact details of the person you're searching for, even if they have since changed their surname or moved.
Take a look at Vera's story as an example; she used Peopletracer to get in touch with an old friend after 20 years of no contact.
Vera wanted to find the address of her old work colleague, Rose, who sent her Christmas cards every year. Unfortunately, because Vera had lost Rose's address, she was never able to return the favour. For 20 years, Vera received a handwritten card at Christmas which included a brief update of Rose's news. Vera found out that Rose had been widowed and had re-married, but she never revealed her new surname, making Rose very difficult to track down.
Luckily Vera remembered the full name of Rose's first husband and thanks to Peopletracer's marriage records; she was able to find Rose's current marriage certificate online, after a quick search of our databases.
Now Rose and Vera talk regularly and reminisce about their time working together in the 1950's and Rose finally received her long-awaited Christmas card in return.
Sending cards in times of family conflict
If there is a relative that you have not had any form of contact with for months, or maybe even years, sending a Christmas card this year may go some way to bridge that gap. However if there is hurt and a significant issue surrounding the reason why you haven't spoken to them for a while, sending a card may not be the easiest thing for you to do.
There are many reasons why you should try and reconnect with your family over Christmas. For one, if there are children or innocent parties caught in the middle of the dispute, it may be unfair for them to miss out on contact with their relatives at this family-orientated time of year. In this case, an exchange of Christmas cards, spurred on by you, may be the start of the healing process. Remember, a card message doesn't have to include a lot of detail, a brief Merry Christmas and Happy New Year will suffice.
Further, there are many things you can do to avoid conflict and keep the family atmosphere pleasant at Christmas, check out this previous post from our blog for ideas such as getting actively involved in planning and avoiding alcohol in potentially tense situations.
Finding a long-lost relative
For others, Christmas is a heartbreaking time of year when people think about family members they have completely lost touch with or sadly never knew. Tracking down these long-lost family members at Christmas could be a very good way of reaching out to them.
A Christmas card in the post is a non-confrontational, non-threatening form of communication. And because Christmas is a time for family, a card might catch your recipient at a time when they are also thinking about you. A Christmas card can open a line of communication and give you the opportunity to express your interest in meeting up with them in the New Year. Or, a card can be a simple and polite acknowledgement of the season; it's completely up to you and the recipient how far the exchange goes.
However, tracing these long-lost relatives may be tricky. Luckily, Peopletracer has a number of search packages available to help people who are looking for contact details of family members they never knew or have completely lost touch with.
You can for instance, use our Birth Search to locate official birth certificates in England and Wales from the years 1984-2006. From this data you can find out full names, mother's maiden names, month and year of registration and district.
Our Marriages Search may help you find the contact details of a person who has got hitched and changed their name. This database trawls through official marriage certificates in England and Wales from 1984-2005.
And finally, if there is still no luck in tracking down a person's contact details, you can try using our Death Search. This will provide you with registered deaths in England and Wales from 1976-2006 and will include the name, date of death, month and year of registration as well as the district.
For more information, check out our more in-depth guide to finding long-lost relatives.
Use Peopletracer's quick and easy service to find addresses and build your Christmas card list this year. And for more information on our search packages and tips on how you can get the most from your Peopletracer searches, check out our Finding People Guide.