Christmas cards are a relatively “new” invention of history, only dating to the 19th century.
Henry Cole, an elite member of England’s social circles, was a popular man in the mid-1800s. In those days, it was expected that you regularly write letters to your friends. In Cole’s case, he was a perpetual pen-pal of too many people.
When it was time to mail out the annual Christmas and New Year’s letters, he was overwhelmed by the outstanding number of letters to be composed.
But a genius innovation came to him! He had an artist design a holiday illustration, and had a local printer create 1000 copies of the image on pieces of cardboard. It boasted the generic greeting: “Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year To You!” Then, he personally addressed and signed each one.
Within a few years, all of elite London copied his brilliant idea and thus, the invention of the modern Christmas card.
The tradition has grown in popularity since, with elaborate card designs and lengthy letters detailing events from the year. Some even send digital cards or videos instead.
But there is something charming about opening up your mailbox on a chilly December day to find a handful of handwritten cards celebrating the Christmas season.
Do you feel like Henry Cole?
Do you have 1000 people expecting a Christmas card from you this year? Okay, that’s a lot of people. But would it be unreasonable for you to mail 100 cards? That’s still plenty!
Henry Cole probably had a large book of names and addresses. Your parents may have had a similar book or a rolodex. You can use the note card system!
If you feel burdened by the massive list of card recipients, here’s a foolproof system to help you write, address, and mail your Christmas cards in a timely manner.
1 List the recipients
First, create a list of everyone who you would like to give a Christmas card. Consider:
- Family members (parents, children, siblings, grandparents, Aunts/Uncles, cousins, etc.)
- Your children’s teachers
- People from church
- People who have moved away (think old neighbors, college roommates, previous co workers, etc.)
- Take a quick glance at your social media friends to see if you missed anyone
2 Create note cards
Now that you’ve created a master list, you can get organized.
- Write each family on an individual note card. Include their last name and names of each family member (children).
- Write their address.
- Write if their card will be mailed or hand delivered.
- Separate note cards into two piles: one for “to mail” and one for “hand deliver.”
Note: Each address has its own note card. For example,
Jack and Jill Hill
Billy and Sally (kids)
1234 Hill Road
Mountain, State, USA
Brian and Molly Smith
Sam, Judy, Isaiah, Ryan (kids)
123 Ocean Breeze Way
Sunnyside, Florida, USA
2 Address your Christmas cards
Now it’s time to write out all of your cards! But if we’re honest, no busy Mama has a chunk of multiple hours to write out all of her cards. That’s why this note card system is so helpful.
Begin with the pile labeled “to mail.” After you write out a Christmas card, address the envelope, and add a stamp, move the note card to another pile. This pile will become the “Done” pile.
Continue writing, addressing, and stamping, them moving the note card to the “Done” pile. If you only have time to do 15 cards, that’s okay! Paperclip the “Done” note cards together to distinguish the pile from the loose note cards. Now you know which cards are finished and how many you have left to complete.
3 Update you notecards
As Christmas cards arrive in your mailbox, you can double check your note cards for proper addresses and names. If a family had another baby, add their name (and proper spelling) to their note card. If your friends recently moved, update their address on their note card.
If desired, you can even make notes about who mailed you a Christmas card and which people no longer send one.
As needed, add new note cards for new neighbors, teachers, co workers, and friends.
Why use the note card system?
What’s so magnificent about the note card system? Why not just make a list and check it off like Santa Claus does?
The note card system:
- Is organized. You’ll feel the smoothness of this process. Everything you need is gathered together: everyone’s names, addresses, plus how many Christmas cards you will be writing this year.
- Is reusable. Instead of creating or printing a new list every year, you can use these note cards for years to come.
- Works well when your time is limited. If you only have 10 minutes to write out cards, this system will help. You can write out the cards that need to be mailed first, and will be able to keep track of your progress.
- Shows you how many cards you need. This easily reveals how many cards you will mail out, but your piles will also show you how many more cards you have to write before Christmas.
- Functions as an address book. No one really keeps address books anymore, especially since the invention of a GPS that stores helpful addresses. However, this can be your “address book.”
- Can be duplicated for birthday cards. If you love this note card system, apply the same principles to birthday cards! Have a pile per month, with names, birthdates (including the birth year so you can determine their age), and address. In January, you can prep February birthday cards; in February you can prep March birthday cards, etc.
Tis the season!
Tis the season for writing letters to your friends and family. How do you organize your Christmas cards?