This is a lesson in both time management and the art of giving, without expecting anything back Some of us are sticklers about holiday cards, while others could care less, do not believe in the art of giving, or just plain lazy. I must admit, the first two years I got into making greeting cards (officially), I got everything together for the soon to be annual Patricia's Christmas card giveaway (Translation: sending out Christmas Cards), and I had everything ready: I took a card workshop at Archiver's, even though I was working there, I gathered all the materials (getting a discount helped a lot), I set a date to start, and started on time. Now I am not one of those start on January 1 type people. After all, I have my pride, my reputation, and my dignity to protect, not to mention my beauty rest (hey, Christmas Card hibernation until November 1st is good for the soul). Ladies (and a few good gentlemen), CCH is nothing to sneeze at. The symptoms are the need to rush, stress, perfectionism, snapping at family and friends (including innocent children) who may get the occasional curse word thrown their way, finally crying spells. As you get towards Thanksgiving, the family may have to go to the grandparents for the holidays if the mailing list has not been started.
That was the old me. After two years of not sending out anything at all, I have turned over a new leaf (starting a business does wonders for the soul.) I am still not the type who will start making cards for next Christmas January 1, but I am taking clues from the customers I met while at the store. Here are my tips:
- Start in May. I am not talking making cards, I am talking mailing list. Find out who sent you a card last year, and who did not even bother. This includes anyone who called or emailed you. think about your child's teacher, principle, piano teacher, and so forth. if you met someone from December 2011 to present who are first timers. The list does not have to be 100 of your closest friends, but make some kind of list, because in October, you are going to narrow that list down, and separate that list into two piles: The ones you can hand deliver and the ones you need professional help for sending your lovely cards.
- Rest in June. In July or August (for those who create) start thinking about your design. Is it going to be fun and festive, inspirational, cute, traditional, or somewhere in between. What about color and size? You should have a basic idea on how the card(s) would look like. Plan a shopping list of only those items, and use those consumable items (paper, glue, etc) for nothing but that card project. If you do not make cards, find a person who can make cards for you, if you like the homemade look. Best place to look is buy local, or if local is not available, Etsy can be your best friend. be sure to read ALL instructions to the artisan's shop, including how much time they need to make the cards. It is best to keep in constant communication with the person, in case there are changes in the project. After all, they are making one of a kind pieces of art for you, and it is their livelihood you are talking about. Other places include Ebay and Meylah.
- Are you going to include a newsletter? STOP RIGHT THERE! If you are going to send a letter of everything that has happened to you in the past year, a card is not the place to do it. If you are really going in that direction, I suggest you divide that list ASAP, and send that very personal newsletter to only a few close friends and family. If Little Johnny's teacher gets one of those letters, she may think it is cute that he started a teddy bear collection at the age of 5, but it may be embarrassing to him at the age of 16. On the other hand, does your boss really need to find out why you missed work to go to a ball game in April 2012 or that little Susie can "relive' up" for the first time on pointe at the age of 5? That little bit of news may cost you your job, so be careful, and keep in mind who your audience is.( There is no such thing as a child dancing in pointe shoes at the age of 5, their feet and ankles are not strong enough to hold their body, so that was a bad example-FYI)
- Be on time. The best time to send a holiday card is the beginning of the month. Doing it this way assures a perfect delivery time, and less pressure. The latest you can send a Christmas Card this year would be around December 15th. You can pace yourself with this task, especially if you have a really long list (50 or more people)
- Get a custom made stamp to sign your cards so you do not writer's cramp, and place you mailing on your computer. You can use something as simple as free software, trials or if you are really adventurous and you already have it on your computer, try Microsoft products, Word, Excel, Access (listed in order of difficulty)