Holiday cards can present an annual dilemma. Life is crazy-busy in December, and your to-do list is longer than Santa’s beard. But, you also want to send warm holiday wishes to the people you care about – something more meaningful than liking their latest post on Instagram.

An old-fashioned holiday card is always a thoughtful gesture, and it might be even more meaningful this year. If you like the idea of sending out cards but aren’t sure where to start, read on for our step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Make Your List

The goal here is to establish who is on your “snail mail” list, since you’ve got to allow more prep and delivery time for them. You may choose to contact some friends and family by e-mail, text or social media, but you also instinctively know which ones will genuinely enjoy ripping open an envelope and unfolding a classic holiday card.

Step 2: Check it Twice

Once you’ve made your list (or reviewed a previous one), double-check to be sure you’ve covered everyone. Have you included your child’s teachers and coaches? Were there any new people that came into your lives this year? Did any families expand with a baby or a new pet? Did someone have an added impact on your family in some way? Is there anyone who might be lonely or struggling during the holidays and would appreciate a thoughtful message?

Step 3: Assemble the Supplies

Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Stamps – be sure to get a few extra ones, and figure out the international rates for faraway recipients. If some of your cards can be hand-delivered, that will help keep costs down.
  • Return address labels – these save time and add a whimsical holiday touch to any envelope. Check out the charming designs available in the Mabel’s Labels holiday collection! Or make it super quick and easy with this.
  • Cards – you can use the boxed, folded variety or create a customized seasonal card with photos of your kids or the whole family. These can be easily ordered online or from an in-store photofinishing kiosk.
  • Stickers – an optional add-on, to decorate the envelope or the inside of the card.
Step 4: Recruit Helpers

This assembly line will have a job for everyone in the family: signing, addressing, stamping, decorating, sealing, and so on. Little ones can create original artwork to add to Grandma’s card. School-aged kids can hone their printing skills (or cursive writing, if they’ve learned it) by writing messages or addressing envelopes. Got a tween who loves to use the computer? Have him or her type all the addresses into a mailing label template that you can print out every year.

Step 5: Make it Fun

The process can get a little repetitive, so liven it up if you can. Turn the kitchen table into your very own North Pole Mailroom, complete with candy canes, festive hats and upbeat Christmas tunes. Maybe you’re each allowed to eat a small red or green candy once a card is fully ready for mailing? I’m sure Mrs. Claus wouldn’t object.

In the end, a holiday card is about the thought and effort that goes into it. This year more than any other, it’s nice to send a positive message and let people know that you’re thinking about them. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be from you.


Kristi York is a freelance writer and mom of two sports-loving boys. Her work has been published by ParentsCanada, Running Room, ParticipACTION and The Costco Connection.

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