Tis the reason for the season!
Although we would all like to think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as cozy winter nights lazily spent around a freshly lit fire nice and toasty in one’s most stylish UGGs, by now most of us have learned better. Its a machine. The Holiday Machine. It takes Martha Stewart like skills and her small posse to pull off the feasting, the gifting, the communicating, merry making all the while surviving the much beloved but at times completely stressed out family while maintaining your best performance of holiday grace and cheer.
Your only tools for surviving the machine is a good game plan and time. Lots of extra time. That time begins now! Below you will find a cheat sheet of some of this years research and tips! Enjoy!
CHRISTMAS CARD WEBSITES – the holiday card sales are on now!
shutterfly.com 40% off cards for “limited time”,
Super easy website for making custom photo cards. You can download their app for MAC computers to make uploading photos super simple from iPhoto. They also have great sharing tools for those photos once you loaded them so your time and energy is well used.
tinyprints.com 20% off till November 13th
bought by shutterfly, this is their higher end division, think nicer card stock, better printing, colored envelopes as an option and etc. You’ll find its super popular if you read the back of cards you get this year. Someone please email my husband and tell him I want this calendar for Christmas!
minted.com $25 off till November 12th for holiday cards
New to us, this will be our vendor this year. Their niche is using all independent designers who submit their work to Minted. You can pick your grade of card stock, get a proof, order a sample and get printed envelopes. Really fun designs and if you want to feature your pet on your card, this site is hands down the winner.
snapfish.com save 30% with holiday code HOLIDAY2012 through December 31st.
HP’s answer to online printing. Comparable to Shutterfly.
You’ve gone through all the hard work of making a card, now get a stamp that suite your work! If you live in a major city like me, then take my advice and order them online! No reason to stand in line only to find out they don’t have that one in stock. At last check it was only $1.00 to have them mailed to you in their overly pristine shrink wrapped cardboard backed, just-in-case-your-collecting-them, totally NOT cost effective packaging. Sigh
Here is what the creative geniuses (and I use that term loosely) at the United States Postal Office are offering us this year for holiday stamps. Even bigger sigh. Conversely you can pay over $1.00 for a truly artistic 45 cent stamp at zazzle.com. (anyone who voted for bigger government in the last election, please email me and explain what exactly is the value being provided? Government can’t even get stamps figure out? Or the DMV? Or….I digress. Sorry!)
Costco is offering the Rudolf forever stamps which would give you a slight discount. At any rate, if you can find a cost effective stamp to match your card you earn top marks.
JUST A NOTE ON PERSONAL TOUCH
Not that you will have time each season to do all this but if you are ahead of the game and are, like me, addressing and writing cards out over the next several Monday Night Football games, here are some tips gleaned from this awesome book The Art of the Handwritten Note ($12 on amazon):
1. Love at first sight – hand addressed cards are more eagerly opened than their computer generated counterparts. Take it up a notch by getting envelopes that are not white. Labels and white envelopes have the feeling of being mass produced. Your card will for sure stand out against the rest if its color pops and is hand labeled. People know this takes time. But beware. Handwriting the outside sets an expectation for the inside of the card so if you are not going to make an attempt for item #3 below, go back to the labels. Tip: splurge on a wonderful pen or pack of fine line sharpies to energize you for the task.
2. Use their name and your names – I cannot overstate how much people really enjoy seeing their first name. For example, Stacy and John Creswell is more appealing than The Creswell Family. Similarly, signing a card from John and Stacy is more personal than The Creswell Family and more meaningful because did 4 year old Victoria really send you the card being part of the family? For Grandma, yes. But for most of your recipients, no. Take note, a common mistake: is to address the card with the man’s name first as in John and Stacy Creswell (probably because this follows the well know and correct convention of Mr. and Mrs. John Creswell) BUT, as I was once told by an etiquette expert, “a man should never be separated from his name”. It should be addressed Stacy and John Creswell.
3. Sign your own name inside the card and write their name in a small note – I know, now we are really talking about a lot of time. But, if you must, just pick your top 10 list and do it for them and automate the rest. People always read what you write over what a typed card says. Your handwritten one liner is where you get to say “we are specifically thinking about you!” This effort on your behalf is appreciated by them and gives you permission to tell them all about your trips, kids, new job, bigger house and newest news. It also seals your good will toward them specifically. Some people write a one liner and sign their cards but when they don’t use my name I do wonder if they didn’t just blast off 200 of them and randomly stuff them into cards. I don’t mind. Life is so busy and I do enjoy getting caught up over the holiday but for you to go to all that extra work and not communicate to your recipient that YES! you are thinking of them specifically is a missed opportunity. Narrow down your work by making a repeatable one liners for good friends and one for acquaintances that you wedge between their first name and yours. And for those truly special friends, I am sure you will have something unique to say on the tip of your tongue.
4. Grace for you and them – so this year you added a new baby, job or house. There is just no time. Give yourself a break and automate everything! And if someone sends you a card with not one drop of original ink on it – so what, they loved you enough to share their life with you. Your standards and expressions of love and friendship are your own for each season. No false guilt for anyone.