I’ve written some controversial posts before, but I have to admit–this one makes me nervous. I just want to preface today’s post by saying, no, I’m not a Grinch. If you want to send me a card, I’m super-thrilled I have friends who love me enough to think to send me anything–so send it! But I do seem to have some kind of dysfunction when it comes to cards. Let me explain why I found some Christmas card alternatives.
First of all, I don’t know what to do with a load of cards when I receive them. Tape them to the door, then spend weeks peeling little strips of tape off? Make a collage? (Cool, but who has time for that?) Shred them and turn the scraps into mulch for the garden so I can sow “Season’s Greetings!” into the new year… That’s actually not a bad idea. In the immortal words of my Grandpa when he received a card: “That’s nice. Throw it in the trash.”
There are exceptions. Those photo cards, the ones with your whole family in matching outfits, with the kids sporting new gaps in their smiles or braces or glasses or contacts? I love those, and I keep almost all of them. And if I get letters from anyone, at any time of year, I keep them. That goes for Christmas cards with a letter written inside. Letters = awesome.
But I don’t like the societal pressure cards, you know? The “checking-my-holiday-to-do-list-don’t-forget-to-send-a-bunch-of-cards” ones, which I feel obligated to send to people I see several times a year, anyhow, and have one measly sentence inside. “Have a happy New Year! Love, Cole.” I mean . . . I’d rather just tell someone in person, on the phone, or even leave an unexpected message on their social media accounts or even an email.
And maybe that’s the problem: technology. (Oh, technology, you’re on the naughty list again!) It seems wasteful for me to zip off a bunch of cards when they’ll just be dumped into the recycling bin before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
If you’re with me, and you’re looking for another way to express your creativity, love of friends and family, and reverence for this special time of year, here are some ideas that might be just right for your family:
I love Christmas, and I love groundhogs (This is a topic for another post; I can only handle one argument per article. Can’t help it–I just love them, okay?!). So one year I wrote a Christmas story about a groundhog. It’s like a little island of Christmas every time I read it, and it makes me happy and blinky with tears. You can write a short Christmas story and post it on your social media to share with friends near and far.
You can get your family in on the activity, and have your kids illustrate it and make their own picture book. Then, upload the images, make a simple PDF, and wow grandparents with season’s greetings that really speak for your family! Post it online, too.
Finally, you could use an interactive variation: you write the first line, and invite friends and family on social media to add their own lines. Keep going until you build a zany, entertaining Christmas tale that everyone will remember for years to come.
If you love traditional cards but don’t want the waste, consider using free stock photography and overlaying your own wintery poem across the image. Using Canva, PicMonkey, PhotoShop, or your preferred app, you can quickly whip up a warm and cozy digital card for all your special friends. Who knows, you may get commissioned to make custom images for others next year.
A Play — with Props!
If you still want to send mail, but are looking for a gift that packs a little more festivity than a store-made card, consider writing your own skit. Keep it simple. Then put the short script and an assortment of props (Drosselmeier eye patch, Santa hat, Grinch gloves, fake mustache, NYE favors, sugar plum fairy wings, etc.) in a mailer and send it off for Christmas break fun. Bonus: you’ll also get to enjoy the photos of the cast when they act out your “original” work 🙂
Digital Scavenger Hunt
Invite your loved ones to participate in a digital scavenger hunt by leaving numbered clues. You can place the clues on your own profiles, blog, or website, or get creative with hints to other websites. Or you can send out daily “missions”, such as selfies with Santa, spot a reindeer and send a pic, or answer a daily Christmas trivia question. Whoever’s first to find the last clue wins a prize. Now, that’s mail they’ll remember.
You can choose any holiday theme and light up your Instagram account with corresponding images: Advent, the 12 Days of Christmas, Highlights of the Old Year/Hope for the New Year, or any other holiday. Engage with your friends and family by tagging them or encouraging them to post their memories, wishes, and thoughts, too. Go to town with the hashtags, and create one of your own. Have fun with it, and your posts will be a bright spot of holiday inspiration guaranteed to stop scrolling longer than it would take to read a card and pitch it into the recycling.
Just because the tradition of sending paper cards is changing, it doesn’t mean we have to discard (<– see what I did, there?) the sentiment, too. Use your wonderful creative imagination, and come up with new ways to make contact with your loved ones, near and far. The way we communicate is evolving rapidly, but we still use words and images. Let people know how much they mean to you. You may discover a new tradition that you and your family will absolutely love.
NOW YOU: How have you changed the way you keep in touch with loved ones during the holidays?
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