Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas card protocol

My big goals this weekend are to work on my Christmas cards and decorate my apartment for the holidays. And by decorating, I mean putting up my Charlie Brown-inspired faux Christmas tree and watching Love Actually in my living room.

I'm scaling back my holiday spending this year because of the economy, so I'm putting more effort into my Christmas cards, because, well, they have to say "Happy Holidays! Sorry I can't get you a gift."

But if my Christmas card list is increasing, that means I have to establish a firm protocol so I don't spend all weekend working on them. This sadly means that I have to categorize people on my card list and not everyone gets a very personal message in the card. I love writing messages to people in cards, being cute and funny so they maybe hold on to them. I never used to hold on to cards but now I do, especially if there is a meaningful note in it.

To start the Christmas card protocol, I buy two boxes of cards: one that I really love and splurge on (known as Tier 1) and another box that is nice but on the more "economic" side (known as Tier 2).

Then, looking at my card list, I drop the names into one of the following categories, which determines which card and message they get in the card:
  • Obligatory - friend of family, someone I have to send a card to: Tier 2 with standard holiday greeting
  • Exchange occasional e-mails: Tier 2 card with standard holiday greeting
  • Friend I've lost touch with: Tier 2 card with standard holiday greeting and note about keeping in touch more
  • Acquaintance with mutual friends, keep in touch only when out in a group:Tier 1 card with standard holiday greeting
  • Casual friend - talk regularly but don't socialize very often: Tier 1 card with standard holiday greeting and short additional note
  • Close friends - talk and see each other regularly: Tier 1 card with standard holiday greeting and lengthy additional note
I know it looks anal retentive, but it helps keep things straight. So starting tomorrow, I'm off to begin organizing my cards so I can knock these out quickly this weekend and enjoy the view of my little Christmas tree in my apartment. 

One holiday tradition I do every year is watch television with only the Christmas tree lights on in the apartment. That is one of my favorite evening activities :)

Am I the only one without a tree up just yet? It's after Thanksgiving now so it's acceptable to decorate for the holidays and pull out the Christmas music playlist.

Also, let me know if you have a routine when sending out your Christmas cards too. I'm already listening to my holiday iPod playlist to get in the mood.

40 comments:

Maki said...

Oh my goodness, you're so organized!!! I haven't even bough the cards yet. I know, I know.. I'm so lame. But my to do list is to go and buy the cards for friends and family and finish everything by next weekend which I will have to do it by staying up late..

We haven't bought the tree yet. I don't think we won't be getting it until 11 days before Christmas.

S. said...

If you came to my house you'd never know it was anywhere near christmas, so you're ahead of the decorating game in my book!

LBluca77 said...

I never send out Christmas cards. I am not disciplined enough to do so.

But I also love to watch tv and movies with just my Christmas tree lights on. I was thinking of not putting up my tree this year, mostly because last year I had less furniture, so more room. I think if I don't put it up I will regret it, Sunday might be the day that I put it up.

Heidi Renée said...

We're not having a tree this year, since I'm going home for Christmas and Jason doesn't care. I'm contemplating not doing cards, either. We skipped them last year because of our wedding--pretty much everyone got a thank you note instead.

I got a pine-scented candle so I don't have to miss out on the delicious tree smell. It's pathetic, but I know my mom will have a giant tree so I don't have to feel too sad about not getting out all my ornaments this year.

Beave said...

I am definitely stealing your card routine because it takes me forever, and because it amazing!

I love sitting in the dark with just the tree lights snuggled up with my fiancée and some cocoa. Other than getting all the friends and family together for the holiday parties, thats the best part of the winter.

wontletlifedefineme said...

No trees are up in the Netherlands yet (it's actually not allowed to sell Christmas trees until the 6th of December), because it's Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas) eve tonight!
It's the biggest gift-giving holiday in this country, and Santa Claus is actually based on Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas), only much more commercial. Sinterklaas was the Bishop of Myra (Turkey) who gave presents to the poor, and the 6th of December was his birthday. And on the eve of his birthday he rides across the roofs of all the houses on his white horse (americo), and drops presents down the chimneys.

We have two large bags of presents waiting in our living room and I can't wait until tonight! This will also be my niece's (she's 2 years old) first Sinterklaas celebration, so I'm curious to see how she will react... :)

High-heel gal said...

Wow, now that's some organization! This will be my first year for sending out Christmas cards, so we'll see how it goes. I will definitely keep your tiers in mind though ;)

Maxie said...

I think you just send too many cards- LOL.

I send maybe... 15 or 20? We don't do cards at work (awesome) and we're just buying booze for each other so it's going to be super easy.

Coconut said...

I definitely put up my little 3-ft Christmas tree last weekend. And I've been listening to Christmas music at work. I love getting in the holiday spirit!

Nilsa said...

I used to send holiday cards. And I diligently wrote personal notes in each and every one of them. Because I loved the process of connecting with people. And then, one day, I just stopped sending them altogether. Because I no longer had time to devote to all that writing. And personally, I get a little annoyed at the "wasted paper" when people just send a card and sign their name. Why bother, is my mentality (and I know I likely stand alone on this one). People told me this year Sweets and I HAVE to take one of our wedding pictures and send it out as our Christmas card. I said No We Don't. And we won't. Maybe I'll start sending cards again if/when we have kids. Until then, don't get your hopes up. =)

Mandy said...

Wow are you organized! LOL. I went thru a phase where I handmade all my cards using fun Christmas stamps. But then it got to be too much. Now I buy them and don't send out nearly as many as I used to. And I usually only send them to close friends and close acquaintances.

Alexa said...

so the acquaintance with mutual friends, keep in touch only when out in a group are people you want to get grab on to become a more close friend, hence the wooing with a tier 1 card?

that i love and can appreciate. ha.

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Mega said...

Why send cards when an email/text can take care of that with one push of a button!

But if you are sending cards, please make sure to put money in mine.

Deutlich said...

I'm doing the entire christmas card organizational thing this weekend too. For once, I want it done and over sooner than later.

Maris said...

That is the most organized Christmas card list I have EVER seen. I wrote mine on the back of an old issue of New York Magazine on the bus this morning. I hope to get them out before the 24th.

Ashley said...

I didn't decorate and I'm not sending cards.

I am officially broke and too busy for Christmas. :-P

EP said...

You are incredibly organized! I'm impressed, and your system sounds like a good one. Hopefully, they won't take you all weekend!

Erin said...

I buy one box of cards that have a space to insert a photo in front and I put in the best photo of my husband and I from the year. Those boxes usually hold about 15-20 cards so that's all I send out. I pretty much only send them to people I talk to on a regular basis and a few distance friends and family. I guess it's strange that I also include a sort of stereotypical "year in review" letter since most of the people who get a card already know that what's been going on in my life. But, oh well! I also try to write some kind of personal note in the card as well.

The tree isn't up yet because I'm planning on putting up a live tree and I don't want it to dry out too soon. I'm betting it will go up next weekend. I love the look the tree but getting it up and decorated is a pain because my husband thinks the idea of a tree is silly and never wants to help.

Kate said...

Maybe it's because I've gotten older and lazier, but for the past two years I've gone the photo card route. A nice picture of us (so everyone can see what we look like these days way out in the Midwest) with a standard greeting printed on the pic. All you have to do is shove those suckers in the envelopes, address them (I print labels to make it even easier) and put stamps on them. It took about an hour this year, but the nice thing is you can put a personal note on the back if you like (which I never do, but I like options).

Miss Grace said...

Last year I instituted a photo card, which has seriously eased my Christmas Card "thing." It helps that I have a toddler to put on it, I prolly wouldn't do it if it was just a photo of me, yknow? But it's a lot more economical while (I think) still seeming personal and such.

SA said...

Man, you got your Christmas card sending down to a science. If I do indeed send them this year (and that's a big if) then I'll literally just write down the first names that come to mind and send them.

Kate, RD said...

Love it!

I keep track of everyone I send cards to and everyone who sends me cards. If you haven't sent me a card in the past two years, you get bumped from the list. There are, of course, some exceptions to that rule...but I manage to save on a few stamps each year by knocking people off the list.

jamie said...

My tree is defiitely up!

I randomly keep my cards on my coffee table for a week or so until they are done. Everyone gets the same card. The messages differ depending on how creative I am feeling...

I am proud of you for being so organized though...you go girl! :)

Angela said...

The year that I start writing Christmas cards can stay as far away for as long as possible. I don't want to be too much of an adult yet!

Vanessa said...

I usually work on my cards the weekend after Thanksgiving. I'm not so organized like you, I just sit down and start writing. Maybe next year I need to rethink this!

CC said...

I'm super impressed with the christmas card protocal. very efficient.

Paula said...

I like the system you have devised. I'm not much of a christmas card giver though - i prefer the gift part and often virtually bankrupt myself to ensure all my friends and family get presents. On that note, I'll probably spend most of today on my christmas wrapping - which could seriously use some work!!!

heartbreakingenues said...

Awwww, that is too funny, I did the same yesterday with my bff.. decorating the Christmas tree, wanting to watch Love Actually, etc.

Christmas cards though, not sure when I will be able to get started on that. I love how organized you are, I really need to have a little system like you set up :)

Also, just wanted to say we've been lurking for a few days and we'll be back... :)

Lily said...

Love Actually is hands-down one of the BEST ways to get into the holiday spirit!

Wickedly Scarlett said...

Wow, that is quite a protocol! I'm paring my list down this year from last year and everyone is just getting the standard Christmas newsletter with a handwritten "Happy Holidays, love Angela and Colby!" ;)

And yeah, we have our tree up with lights on it (yeah, pre-lit trees!), but not ornaments on it yet. That's on the schedule for today though!

Erin said...

My Christmas card protocol is that I spend hours trying to get a cute picture of the dogs, have those printed up on pre-signed cards and mail them to the 9 million people in my family. Done.

Lauren said...

That is such a great idea! I don't have my tree up yet. I think that I'm going to do it on Wednesday. I'm not sending out holiday cards this year--not enough time.

Daisy said...

Um, Monica? Are you there? This is hilariously organised- can't believe you're really on top of this one- especially the "standard holiday greeting"! Hope it all went well and Love Actually festive-d up your apartment adequately!

dolcechic said...

I wish I was as organized as you!

Thank you for your comment, I'm hoping it went well. I'll find out on the 22nd. I'll have to take a picture of the boots...I feel like a power range in them! lol

jess@thehomebound said...

Crap, Christmas cards. I don't think I can take one more thing to organize. Sorry no cards from me this year.

Jessica said...

We don't have our tree up yet. Not til next weekend!

JessWrites said...

I am watching Love Actually as I write this! What a great Christmas flick.

Also, thanks for reminding me I need to write my Christmas cards!

Web Designer said...

That is a good idea

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