Friday, November 14, 2008

It's That Time Of Year Again: Sending Out Holiday Cards

Sending out holiday cards is a big project by itself. Like any project, there are several ways you can approach it.

You can forget the cards and make a short phone call to everyone on your list (this is a great option if you have a new baby, have been sick, or have just been swamped with life).
o Make sure to use a list of whom you want to contact.
o Limit the length of your phone call so you are sure to get to everyone on your list (use a timer).
o Check people off as you call them. That way you won’t be left wondering if the call to auntie was it a figment of your imagination.

You can hire out the job: www.sendoutcards.com will send out a card with a signature to everyone on your list. Of course you will need to provide them with an electronic list of contacts.

You can send out a family newsletter – more on that later.

You can send out all the cards with a generic closing and signature.

You can write a personal note in each card. Obviously this is the most time consuming method.

If you opt to send cards yourself, get enough for everyone on your list plus ten percent more. Should you make a mistake or miscount, you will still have enough cards. And if you purchased your cards at the end of the previous year’s holiday season, the excess cards will accommodate a growth in your card list.

And remember: holiday postage stamps are available in the US by Halloween.

Now when it comes to managing your holiday card list you have three major choices. You can

-complete a paper copy of your list. Use “name”, “address”, “city”, “state”, “zip”, “sent” and “received” columns. Add a “phone number” column if you are making phone calls instead of sending cards.
-complete an electronic version of your list and use a mail merge program to create address labels.
-mark up your address book. This is a pretty simple solution. You will not have to worry about duplicate entries – which prevents writer’s cramp and saves on time.
o Use a small, red sticky dot on the address entry to mark everyone you send a card to.
o If you wish to keep track of who sends you cards you can add a green sticky dot to the address entry.

Of course we all know the biggest stumbling block to sending out cards is finding the time – especially during the already busy holiday season. Follow these tips to squeeze it in:

-Pick a week to work on writing the cards.

-Divide your card list into five parts. Every day complete one part of the list, and you will be finished in five days.

-Use a pen that is comfortable to use. Felt-tip and roller ball pens write with the least amount of effort.

-Play holiday music to set the tone, and drink hot chocolate.

-Involve the family.
o Pass the cards around round-robin style so each person can sign every card.
o Or divide up the tasks among the family members.
*One person signs and writes a note in the card.
*One person addresses the card.
*One person puts the return address label on the card.
*One person puts the stamp on and seals the envelope.

The biggest secret to getting your cards out is to work on them early – before the holiday crunch. Imagine having your cards filled out before Thanksgiving! You can then mail them when you want and enjoy the last few weeks before the holidays.
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