Instead of sending your yearly Christmas card out with barely a signature… try this instead. It’s a lot more fun and will create a sense of connection with those family and friends you care about.
I’ve looked forward to getting one Christmas card every single year for as long as I can remember.
Every year when we bring in cards from the mailbox, I look to see if one will be hers. It isn’t that she has the most expensive card or the most out of the box one either. Nope. Her card isn’t stuffed with gift cards or homemade ornaments. It’s much simpler than that.
Every year, in her card, she includes a sheet of paper. One sheet of paper printed from her computer or copied on a machine that tells about her family’s year. The highlights. The lowlights, if there are any. And fun stuff in between.
It isn’t braggy or “look what we did” and it isn’t written to puff herself up about life. It’s written to help her family and friends keep in the know about her life. Oh and it’s funny. It is so dadgum funny we’re all usually in stitches by the time it’s over. Then we read it again.
Now that, my friends, is a good Christmas card.
How to make a Christmas card people actually want to read
You don’t have to labor over every card to make them anticipated. With a little thought and planning you’ll be the most anticipated card every year.
Get your Christmas cards first
So first things first, actually get your Christmas cards and envelopes. You can get something basic or personalized. Our Christmas cards this year (which have not come in yet) feature all 5 kids. They are all looking at the camera at one time. I’m serious. That alone is enough to memorialize.
Minted has beautiful cards on sale right now. You can get matching stamps, return address printing and you can even get them to address the labels so all you have to do is mail (after you’ve done below, of course!).
Then… think back over your year then write a fun story and recap
This is the hardest part. One year, no lie, I kept memos all year of the monthly highlights so we could add them into our Christmas card. I’m not talking about Bragging Rights, but just fun and interesting things. Like…
“We loved swimming this year. One day we perfected a now beloved game. Matt and the kids wore orange plastic cones on their heads and paddled around on pool floats while screaming at the top of their lungs.”
We’re going for fun here. If you aren’t good at funny, just aim for highlights that meant a lot to you. If you are passionate about what you’re writing it will connect with people. Did your daughter win a spelling bee or your son score his first goal? Did your baby take their first steps or thrown an epic tantrum at Wal-Mart?
It doesn’t have to be TV worthy it just has to have made an impact on you. In no particular order the following things made an impact on me:
- My 3-year-old dumped an entire Cheez-It box of beach sand all over the minivan.
- After many years of wait, I’ve gotten our preliminary house plans.
- I paid off our minivan.
- My 1-year-old finally said the words, “I wuv oo, mama”
You get the idea. These didn’t make it in the Christmas card, but they could have. Just share things that have been close to you. If you are sending someone a Christmas card then – hopefully – they will care about the things you care about.
If you feel silly sending real life updates to some people on your Christmas card list then they should probably be removed from your Christmas card list. Give yourself permission to move on. You’ll feel better. And you’ll save money.
Run copies and stuff it in the envelope….
Then when you’ve written the letter just print multiple copies. The key is to not make it so complicated you don’t get around to it. Complication is the enemy here. You want simple and heartfelt then print and stuff. Or if you want to get more techy…
Do a QR code for fun!
This year, since I have a blog and all, I decided to something fun I’d never seen before. I put a QR code in our Christmas cards so people could scan it and be taken to my blog to read our update. If you don’t have a family blog but want to do some QR fun then you can link to a PDF or document elsewhere. Here’s how it works.
How to do a QR code:
- Create your letter or recap in Microsoft Word then save it as PDF instead of a doc. (How to do that here).
- Save your PDF somewhere like Dropbox, Evernote, or even Gmail. Wherever you save this document needs a URL because this URL (the www….) is what will be used to create your QR code. (Here is how you do that). Oh, you can also have your QR code link to a FB post if you’ve written something substantial this year.
- Go to a free QR generator like this one.
- Insert the URL where your PDF is stored and voila, you’ll have a QR code ready.
- Download the QR code onto your computer to be used later.
- Get a set of labels (I used Avery) and then print the QR code onto your labels.
- Stick the labels on your Christmas card and you’re donzo.
Note: you can read any QR code with free apps.
So there you have it…
You get your Christmas cards (I prefer Minted because they’re beautiful and the interface is easy to use), you write up a yearly summary. Get your kids to help, ask family members what stood out to them, get quotes, use photos, whatever. However you do it, don’t make it such a big deal that you give up. KISS. Keep It Simple
Year after year as you begin this tradition you’ll find people hope your card is the one they’re pulling out of the mailbox.
Don’t aim to impress, aim to connect.
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