What to write in Christmas cards – or are they disappearing?

So many people now say they aren’t sending cards or Christmas newsletters this Holiday Season but are making a donation to charity instead … “so consider yourselves wished Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah / etc.” A bit abrupt and unfeeling perhaps?

What to write in Christmas cards - or are they disappearing?

Bland, politically sanitised greetings have replaced Santa’s cheeky poetry

And is a “virtual Christmas greeting” – i.e. emailed – as sincere as a mailed, handwritten card, or is it just a cheap and easy cop-out for people who haven’t got the time or interest to write out and send real cards?

What happened to all those glorious written Christmas messages of the past?

Looking through the bricks-and-mortar Christmas cards I’ve received this year I see that the printed messages have become bland and politically correct … “Happy Holidays,” “Season’s Greetings,” “Greetings at this festive time of year,” and so-on.

Not that I have a problem with being politically correct, mind you, with my own family being a happy mixture that celebrates Hanukkah and Christmas more or less all at the same time. (Turkey and latkes – yum!)

Just for fun, I did a little research on the printed greetings on Christmas cards of the past and share them here so you can see how bland our 21st century wording has become…

19th century
Prithee little maiden
What hast thou to say?
Merry Christmas greetings
From thy** friend today
And all loving wishes
That thy** life may be
Bright as are the flowers
I have brought to thee.
** Should have been “thine,” actually, but let’s not split hairs here.

19th century
Best fun this Christmas Tide
Take the girl the proper way
Then you’ll soon “get round her”**
Altho’ in Cupid’s chains you’re BOUND
You’re certainly not a BOUNDER!
So Xmas joy, without alloy
To you and your’s, my bouncing boy
**LOL … makes you wonder just what the card writer had in mind…

What to write in Christmas cards - or are they disappearing?
Early 20th century
The season of love, peace and joy
Is here to stay
Celebrate forever this season
And not just today

It takes dough for Christmas presents
And all I have is crusts
But wish you ” Merry Christmas?”
Oh, honey, don’t I just.

20th century
A time of joy, a prayer for peace
The gift of love, a heart full of love
With every wish for a Merry Christmas
And the entire festival** season
**more commonly seen as “festive,” but “festival” can be used as an adjective too.

We still want to share our magnanimous greetings at this time of year. So, how?

An interesting new industry has been springing up over the last few years providing off-the-(virtual)-shelf eCards we can send to all and sundry for no cost, or at least a low cost. Here I must give a plug to my favourite such eCard supplier, Jacquie Lawson, for her wonderful selection of eCards for all occasions and all seasons. No, I don’t get a discount: I just love their work. Have a look at them.

Another way is to have a Holidays message designed by a web designer and send it out to your customers, friends, family and anyone else who would appreciate it.

In terms of a PR exercise, don’t get your hopes up: my inbox is heaving with Merry Christmas / Holidays messages from organisations I’ve never heard of and much as I appreciate their including me on their mailing lists no, I do NOT want to look forward to buying your tomato plants next spring or your cures for foot fungus early in the New Year.

What works? Just write that I/we are thinking of you and hope you get a good break

It’s the same old same old: customers/clients and even friends and family are, essentially, more interested in themselves than they are in you. Sounds callous, but it’s true.

So as always in business, and a lot of the time in private life, focus on “what’s in it for them.”

In the case of Christmas / Holiday greetings, what’s “in it for them” is their appreciation of your caring, respect and where appropriate, love.

By all means choose an electronic way to share your Holiday greetings. But make sure your personal message is from you (and as appropriate your business and brand) – not some plastic cliché. This is the time of year when sincerity is not just desirable, but also is essential.

What to write in Christmas cards - or are they disappearing?

And to finish off Christmas cards … the economics of cards 2017

If you think that here in the UK the average cost of a Christmas card is around 50 pence / USD 67 cents / CDN 86 cents (you can pay much more for fancy ones), 100 cards and envelopes will cost you £50 / USD $67 / CDN $86. That’s before you even get them out of the wrapper.

Next, there’s postage. Assuming you get your act together in plenty of time in the UK you can send you cards via “second class postage,” which still stings you for 56 pence a hit. So you’re looking at spending £106 on the exercise before you even consider the bottle of wine or few beers and the box of chocolates you’ll need to keep you going while you write them all out by hand. A nice donation to charity, indeed.

If you leave your card writing until late, the cost of “first class postage” to get your cards there the next day in the UK, comes in at a grand 65 pence a time. £115 into the charity coffers.

USA? Probably the same for the cost of the cards, and 49 cents per card postage. 67 + 49 = USD $116. Canada? Ditto re: cost of the cards, 85 cents if you buy stamps by the pack. 86 + 85 = CDN $171.  In Australia where I believe the basic postage rate starts at AUS $1 and we can assume cards cost roughly the same as in other English language countries, that brings the cheapest option for 100 cards in at, say 87.50 + 100 = AUS $187.50. Also nice charitable donations.

And that’s before we even think about additional postage costs of sending cards to your friends and family in other countries.

And also, it’s before we count the cost of the trees being chopped down purely to feed a greeting card frenzy which – through electronic means – can be addressed in a more ecologically friendly way. OK? (And if you’re in the UK and have a real Christmas tree, don’t forget to send it for recycling after Epiphany.)

So: what do you think? Should we stop sending printed Christmas greeting cards altogether?

Please share your views.