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The Christmas cards trend has slowed a little over the past decade or so.

The general population is becoming increasingly aware of the environmental cost of sending a flap of paper across the country to a relative, just for them to open it, read “Seasons greetings, Love Mum, Dad, the children and the dog,” and toss it.

It’s not financially cheap, either, at maybe $5 for an average card plus a dollar for postage. That might not sound like much, but if you have a large extended friend and family network, it adds up.

If you’re not going to personalise the card and make it something worth keeping, it’s really just very expensive rubbish.

The thought doesn’t matter, either. What thought did you put into it?

If you’re going to insist on sending Christmas cards this year, make them worth your money and the environmental impact.

How do you do that?

Rather than write “to” and “from,” use the more-than-ample white space to write them a letter.

What you write specifically depends on how well you know your recipients and how often you see them. It will differ person to person, too. If it doesn’t, you’re not doing it right.

 

If you know them and see them often

Reflect on the good times you both enjoyed over the past year. Reminisce about things that made you both laugh, anything you celebrated together, and other memorable moments you shared.

If the recipient was extra supportive, motivational or inspirational this year, let them know. Tell them exactly what they did that helped, how that made you feel, and how much you appreciated it. They may not even be aware of the effect they had on you.

Also express a genuine, specific wish for them for the future. What do I mean? If you know they have a goal they want to achieve – maybe to do with running, for example – write that you can’t wait to help them celebrate finishing their first half-marathon, and that you’ll be with them all the way.

End with a simple salutation such as “Here’s to another year of success and happiness.”

 

If you’re not in contact often

If you’re not quite as close and don’t speak/see each other too often, for example friends or extended family that lives across the country:

update them on things they may have missed/exciting events throughout the year (graduations, the baby started walking, etc);

– suggest a possible chance to catch up during the coming year;

– ask for an update on something you know they were working on this year (“I know you were building a chicken coop, how did that turn out?”);

– enclose photos and be sure to include a blurb either in the card or on the back;

– end with a simple salutation as above. Don’t overthink it, just write something that you mean. It could be “looking forward to seeing you in March,” or whatever your plans are.

 

Helping children

If you’re helping your children write Christmas cards, be it to family or friends, talk about it with them. Why are you giving this person a card? What are you going to say to them apart from “Dear so-and-so”? You might also suggest that they draw a picture in the card.

Their reason for writing the card may be the very thing they should write in it. If they want to give cards to certain people, it may be because the intended recipients were kind to them throughout the year and it’s something your child remembered. It’s important to help them articulate their appreciation to their friends and family.

 

You may even be able to get the rest of your family onto it, and trade stories, photos, and uplifting comments each Christmas. It’s a nice way to stay connected if you can’t see each other very often.

I know social media makes most letter-writing redundant, but it’s always lovely to receive a real, hand-written letter in the mail. It provides a more personal connection between the writer and recipient, something that’s quite often lost in the flurry of pictures and updates facilitated by the internet.

When it comes to buying, try to find cards made from recycled materials, if at all possible. The amount of paper that goes into making Christmas cards each season is astonishing. For some high quality, sustainable options with a variety of designs, look here and here.

If you’re looking for more ways to make your Christmas a bit more mindful and a little less wasteful, have a look through my gift guides for children and adults, and also this post on a few other ways to reduce your impact.

I hope you’ve gained some inspiration from this post and now have something a little more creative than “season’s greetings” to write. If you did, please consider sharing this post with a friend so that it might help them too.

If this post was helpful, please share so that others can benefit!

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