20 Dec

Who Makes the List?

Posted by Jenna, Under Holiday

Moving around a lot means we have a lot of friends in different places. Lucky us! But what to do when assembling our Christmas card address list each year, as sending out cards can be a bit of an investment. My solution to this has been breaking up our address list into two categories. The first is the people who will always get a card no matter what: parents, siblings, grandparents, people close enough to be in our wedding party, coworkers*, and people who we are currently conversing regularly with. The second list is much more discriminatory: those who sent us cards the previous year.

After I’m done displaying the cards from each year I open up my address spreadsheet and bold all of the names that we received cards from. I add in any people that sent us a card that weren’t already on our list. Then I let the list sit for 10 months, until it’s time to send out cards for the next year. I add in any new friends we’ve made, delete the non-bolded names of people that don’t fall in the essential category, and order for my newest list amount.

I like this system because it helps keeps costs down, and develops a reciprocal relationship of sorts when it comes to sending out cards to people. The string of cards in our hallway grows by the day, and it makes me so happy to walk in the front door and see the smiling faces of our friends and family.

Christmas Card List Dilemma
Image via my Instagram account, @thatwife

 Do you send out Christmas cards? How do you manage and assemble your list each year?

 *Good networking and relationship-building.

16 Comments


  1. I haven’t send Christmas cards in years. In most cases I find it a waist of money. I only appreciate cards that have a personal note. But a store bought card that merely says ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ I find useless. So we either send something special or we do not send anything at all. Last year our Christmas wish for people was also our Thank You for our Wedding. We wrote about our wedding day and expressed gratitude. These were all printed and then I realized I couldn’t send them like that, each person got a personal note too and on it I remembered a special moment with them on our wedding day. Lots of work but more fulfillment. This year we will look back on one year of marriage and share about that. For family and the closest of friends we will add a little wooden shoe magnet from Holland and ask people to keep this as a reminder to pray for us.

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  2. BTW: I always am amazed by your boldness when you write. One can take your Christmas card way as insulting but for me, I just appreciate who you are and saying it like it is. After all, you are not the only one selecting and being financially minded ;-)

    Jenna Reply:

    I don’t have time to worry about those who are offended by practicality :)

    Hope Reply:

    Well good for you. Shows me I worry too much about what others think! Want to be more like you, really!

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  3. I send Holiday cards (being a non-christian, I feel weird sending anything that says Merry Christmas on it, even though we do celebrate it because my husband is.)

    We make the decision, consistently, to send cheap cards to all our friends and family, rather than buying expensive cards and sending them to a select few. We send about 80 cards – my husband has overseas family, my family is spread out, and my friends all send cards and love getting mail. We started with our wedding invite list, since that was pretty much all our “people” and cut the ones that were family friends who get a holiday card from our parents. Every year, I go through the list and change all of the folks who have moved to red, and then I send a bulk email asking for new addresses and update, changing them back to black once I have a new address. The non-essentials are on the bottom of the list, but they are generally folks who aren’t on facebook and we don’t see very often. We don’t do newsy cards, just a sharpied personal note on a photo card, because most of the people we send cards to see us on facebook.

    We buy our cards on Vistaprint, the quality is okay – definitely not good enough for paper snobs, but fine for recycling at the end of the holiday season. This year it doubled as a moving card with our new address.

    My pet peeve is actually non-photo cards that are just signed, no message, nothing personal.

    Jenna Reply:

    There is another post entirely that I could write about the pressure I feel (as a photographer) to send out nice cards. The quality of the card, the design, and the photos. As though I think people will base their desire to hire me on what kind of Christmas card I have.

    Life On Mulberry Reply:

    This is my pet peeve too! And now with companies doing address printing or people just running them thru the printer, it feels like a machine process instead of sincere holiday greetings. I write on every card and my husband writes on the ones for his family and friends (split is really uneven at 70/30, but I still think its good that he participates).

    Jenna Reply:

    I was so impressed that you wrote on ours! Especially with a baby. I tell myself “I have two kids, everyone will give me a break.” Ha!

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  4. You are so right about cards getting expensive! Fortunately our list isn’t too long.

    I definitely agree with Ellie that non-photo cards that are only signed are kind of disappointing. I much much MUCH prefer receiving cards with photos! Even mediocre snapshots are better than none!

    Lauryn Reply:

    I actually see no difference between a non-personal-non-photo card and a non-personal-photo card. Sure, it has a photo of your kid on it, but it’s the same exact card that you just shoved into an envelope and sent out to 50 other people. Honestly, I’d rather have at least some personal note or nothing at all. I don’t like feeling as though I’m just another name in a spreadsheet!

    Jenna Reply:

    My preference is photo card with letter summarizing the year. Those were always my favorite to open as a kid. Especially from the funny people.

    Ellie Reply:

    Every year, we get the Cathy letter. It is a letter from a friend of my mother’s, usually six plus pages in length, in which Cathy overshares in great detail about her life. Apparently the early ones, when I was young and my parents didn’t read them, offered details about her divorce and debilitating intestinal disease. The later letters, which we read annually as a family, included details such as her oldest daughter squandering her potential by not going to medical school, reverting to anorexia, and not talking to her mother because of her horrible boyfriend; the youngest daughter failing several high school classes; and the middle child being unable to ride the public bus to community college because there was a bully on the bus. It’s hard to describe the feeling of reading the letter, because it’s not schadenfreude, it’s simply…”really, this is your holiday letter?” But it pales in comparison to my great Aunt who told us about her husband’s death in the holiday card.

    I realize some people might feel like names on a spreadsheet, but we put a lot of thought into our holiday photo cards with our recipients in mind. Will they care about our highlights from the year? What photo do we think they would find enjoyable? This year we did two different batches – one for older folks, and one for all of our nerdy friends who would understand a Star Wars joke. Who got which card was hotly debated and thoroughly considered.

    OnceAndAgain Reply:

    Thank you, this is such a vivid anecdote. Writing out a letter that goes to all recipients is really difficult to do without either bragging or making an awkward display of the bad things that happened to your family. Hand-writing a personal note to each person is such a daunting task that I know if I forced myself to accomplish that every year, we’d never send out any cards at all. And, I’m pretty confident that exact sense of social pressure is the main reason why we send out 50 cards every year and get about 8-10 cards back in return. Nobody wants that kind of pressure, so people just don’t send cards. I am a huge, huge backer of people just printing out photo cards and dropping them in an envelope. It makes me feel like they cared enough to include me, and I get to display them on my fridge for a month.

    Jackie Reply:

    I am doing regular cards with a photo in them. Then you don’t have to throw it out after Christmas!

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  5. Man I thought I was keeping costs down by only sending 8 cards out this year! I saw the Instagram photo and your pile looked huge!!

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  6. I always thought I’d send out cards and an update letter but after almost 9 years of marriage I’ve just accepted I’m never going to be a Holiday card sending mom. But sometimes I wonder if maybe when I don’t have finals the first two weeks of December I’ll do it… but who am I kidding? I might be in school forever. :)

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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