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This week’s project for 12 Weeks to a Peaceful Christmas is to gather addresses you’ll need for your family’s Christmas mailing. And while you’re doing that, it’s certainly not too early to make a general decision about how you’ll send your greetings.

12weekschristmasAs I mentioned last week, when you take care of the little details in advance, the overall holiday season is much more enjoyable. So like last year, this series involves 12 weeks, 12 small weekly projects that should only take a few hours, planning a wee bit for the holidays.

Gather Your Addresses

If you’ve already got a well-organized, collated database of addresses, you’ve pretty much done the first part of the job. We keep all our addresses in FileMaker Pro for the Mac, and I hear Bento is a great update.

But if you don’t have any uniform system of address keeping, now is a great time to start. It’ll save you the headache of address gathering next year, and it’s useful for other things as well, such as birthdays or family events.

Set aside a few hours this week and collate your addresses (and emails) into one system. A few places to start gathering information are:

  • your wedding mailing list
  • university and/or sorority alumni databases
  • church directories
  • your kids’ school directories
  • Facebook

Your system doesn’t need to be complicated — you can just record them in Excel and print it out for your Home Management Notebook. There are also a few online secure address books, such as Zexer, Flexadex, and Plaxo.

When you take care of your address list now, that’s one less thing to do when the holiday season is in full swing. You’ll really appreciate it.

vintage christmas card sled

Explore Your Holiday Greeting Options

Of course, the traditional Christmas greeting is the standby card, and many families also add a photo or an annual newsletter update. A simple photo card is also very popular, killing two birds with one stone.

There’s no right way to do this. But the best method is the simple one, in my opinion.

I actually like Christmas cards, especially when they involve photos. There’s something sentimental and nostalgic about sticking with the traditional, find-a-card-in-your-mailbox pleasure during the holiday season that I still relish. I enjoy seeing people’s handwriting, a stamp, and then displaying their card in a yearly collection in our home.

But the cost can really add up, and if you’re not ruthless about killing clutter, you can needlessly feel guilty about throwing away cards and outdated photos. More and more, people are moving over to e-greetings.

Sometimes people use a newsletter service, like Mail Chimp. Others create a photo card digitally, and then e-mail it. A PDF newsletter is pretty popular. And others stick with a simple email update with an attached updated photo.

These methods are fine, especially if they help keep your Christmas budget reasonable. Whatever your family’s choice this season, make an early decision, so that you’re not frantically running around, buying leftover greeting cards, or creating an email update while wishing you planned ahead for the traditional post.

A Few Good Resources:

• Make your own cards — Crafty Crow has some great card ideas to get you started.

• Order custom photo cards online. Tiny Prints has some beautiful ones, as does Photoworks. In the past, I ran an Etsy shop for digital card photo files, but I’m not able to this year, with my book deadline. But there are plenty of other Etsy shops who do a great job.

• Take the money you’d use to mail cards, and support a charity. Then send an email greeting, updating your loved ones and telling them about your donation on their behalf. Perhaps they’ll be inspired to do the same.

How do you send Christmas cards to your loved ones? What do you think of low or no-cost digital greetings — poor etiquette, or frugal and environmentally smart alternative?

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