Wednesday, November 30, 2011

10 Questions About Christmas Cards

I hate sending holiday cards because I am so freaking bad at it. Every year, the whole process kicks my hindparts and reminds me that no matter how old I get, I will never be a real grown-up.

Example? One year, I actually got all the cards done by the 20th of December. WIN! And then I found them under the passenger seat of my van six days later. FAIL.

It’s a series of problems for me.  Let's start at the beginning. I have ten questions about stupid Christmas cards.  Something that for normal people is easy but for  me is excruciatingly hard.

10. When do I have to order these mofos so that I can send them out in time? I think about… two weeks ago. Shizzle.

9. What the hell kind of card should we send out this year? Make or buy? Usually make.  Not "make" in the manner of an annoying and talented Martha Stewart type person, but rather "make" as in Shutterfly or TinyPrints or something.  But that means a picture.

8. But which picture? And does a suitable picture exist? And where the hell is it? I know I had one but is it on my phone or in my camera on the memory card or (most likely) taken by my friend and randomly posted on Facebook? That will be a fun three hours.

7. So we’ve decided on a card and found a photo and the cards are all ordered … And hold up – HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST? And does that even include stamps?  Gahhh!

6. And wait. Where’s the list of who we’re sending these things to? Every year I swear that I’m going to update the incredibly old excel spreadsheet and the every year it seems hopelessly out of date.

5. And umm…Can I just print out some labels or is that tacky? Because handwriting all these envelopes is going to take forever and I will flip my brisket. 

4. Speaking of time-saving and tacky, can I just sign our names to the card or do I have to write a greeting on each one? My husband, the fantastical Cap’n Coupon says it’s in really bad taste not to write a greeting.  Meanwhile, I just want to get the notecard type of thingee, print out mailing labels, and not even sign my name.  But he says if I do that it means that I hate Christmas and I’m a bad American.

3. So instead of writing a greeting in each card, should we write one of those group letters? I think that if done well, those group letters are AWESOME.  If done badly they are more painful than a bad case of anal fissures. So do we include one or not? My mom says it’s fine to do so on the years you have something to tell people (a new job, new house, new baby, etc). But I mean, surely people will notice that there’s an extra kid in the picture and draw their own conclusions. 

2. People are judging us based on our card. Sad but true. We’ve moved a lot and for many folks, this is their only glimpse of our family. So is it good enough? Is it annoying? Sigh… I don’t even know anymore.

1. And just when I’m realizing that I’m going to have to pull an all-nighter to get them done and mailed out in time, the Cap'n will stroll by and casually ask me if we’ve sent out the Christmas cards yet?  And then I just drink directly from the bottle.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

44 comments:

  1. I still have a stack of cards next to my night stand FROM LAST YEAR. I must remind myself to throw them away. Hubby thankfully ordered ones that have our names on them this year, rather than have to sign a ridonkulous amount of them.

    He did ALL our thank you cards, too. I have a pretty good wife.

    We've done a letter, with pictures on the back of highlights throughout the year. Since you moved this fall, put some of the info on and pics of the new house. Much easier than trying to figure out where all the " good " pictures are ( or coming up with things you can actually write about to your family:). Have fun!

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  2. I love Vistaprint because, a) they are cheap. b) you can use pictures from Facebook, they have an actual link for that! c) you can print whatever you want on the back of the 4x8 photo cards for FREE as long as it's in gray-scale. So when we moved two years ago I included a photo of the new house and our new address on the back. This year I used two funny, slightly inappropriate, pictures of my boys, with their ages. As for a good family photo, we had ONE of the four of us, from last January, but we were all wearing our Atlanta Thrashers garb and the team has now moved to Canada so my husband wouldn't let me use it. Thank goodness for Vistaprint! I picked a card with room for three pictures; one of each kid and one of hubby and me on our trip to San Francisco last spring. They are winging their way to me now, which means I better update that spreadsheet...

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  3. Last year I began to make Christmas cards, but I never sent them out as instead I managed to get some picture cards made and sent those instead. So this year, with the baby's first Christmas looming in front of us, I think I should do the same...picture cards....but I don't have a picture and I already made all those ones last year....either way, this whole card business is annoying. I say we all drink from the bottle.

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  4. I have a slight Christmas card addiction. Every year I scour the internet for one I like. I used to have them ready to go and mailed by December 1st, which meant they were addressed by Thanksgiving. I had twins a year ago (mid-October) and felt like a failure because I missed my deadline and had to send out Happy New Year cards. I have a SERIOUS problem- and go through this every year. Why? I have no idea. I love to receive the cards as I hang them from my banister in the foyer- so I assume that they do the same with mine. Do they? Of course not! They aren't nearly as obsessive compulsive as I am I'm sure. Or at least I hope.

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  5. Oh and for Vistaprint, if you google for a coupon for them, their stuff is then REALLY cheap. And decent for the money. Course I say this having just ordered our holiday cards from Tiny Prints. I can't help it, they just suck me in.

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  6. Vistaprint is definitely the way to go! You should know that while the cards are incredibly cheap, they totally bend you over on processing and shipping fees (although I just checked and the website is advertising free shipping right now). Next year I have to remember that. I ordered Thanksgiving weekend, which I would have thought would be plenty early, and got stuck paying $20 for 7 day service. It still works out to be a lot cheaper than several other places I checked (walmart, walgreens, shutterfly, etc) AND you can add 140 matching return address labels for $2.00. The Cap'n will tell you it's incredibly tacky to use labels instead of hand-writing, but whatever, you have to save time somewhere! Have fun! Even though it is just another task to complete during an already busy time, I really love sending xmas cards.

    Also, I think this might be the first time I've commented, so I want to tell you how much I love the blog. Thank you and keep up the awesome work!

    --Caroline

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  7. I order them now and do 10 a day until they are gone...and I drink....

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  8. For the past two years, we have been sending New Years cards (I stole the idea from a friend) so much more calming, I can use a picture from this Christmas if I wish, and it won't get lost in the piles of mail. And you can drink the wine you get for Christmas while addressing them. Win win!

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  9. i used hallmark.com this year. after making the card (i use the pictures to tell a story of what we've been up to that year) they will address and stamp and mail the cards for you. you can even pick the day you want the cards mailed. of course you have to take the time to type in the addresses but once that's done your contacts will be saved for the following year!

    it's not as personal as a hand written note but at least the card are sent and on time :)

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  10. I haven't even bought my Christmas cards yet, you're way ahead of the game. Yea!

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  11. Oh yeah...I love the "we've" ... I used to respond with, "I don't know if we have yet," while looking all innocent, until I got yelled at: "Stop doing that!! You know what I mean!" So then I would answer, quite demurely, "No," letting the look on my face say it all. He hasn't used "we've" when he means "you've" in a long time. Mission accomplished.

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  12. We go to Target and get an awesome picture by a photographer who can catch kids who never actually sit still. We order cards with the greeting already on them, print out computer labels and just put them in the mail. There is just no time to do more than that and I do genuinely think of each person/family as I prepare their card for mailing.

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  13. Christmas cards can be an incredible pain in the rear, but it's an easy detail to get over. I'm sick of society indirectly dictating how my holidays should be observed - get a big tree and put it in your house. Then hang stuff from the branches. Don't forget to prepare the exact mixture of water-to-syrup ratio so it doesn't dry out and produce EVEN MORE needles to clean up on a daily freakin basis. Then string lights all over it, placing in such an exact manner as to appear random. There are different schools of thought on colored lights vs. clear lights, but I digress. Now hang stuff from the branches. Candy canes, handprints traced onto construction paper, round balls with some kind of filament string floss kind of stuff that ALWAYS comes off, and make sure to buy more every year - after all, they're on sale, right?

    Now comes the fun part - after you've worked all day(s) long cooking and cleaning for ungrateful friends and family members, get dressed and go stand in line for black Friday sales to get more stuff for the same ingrates who will either lose or break these wonderful treasures that you have elbowed your way through fellow Friday fighters to obtain. Bring them home and hide them the best you can from the instant treasure hunters who always seem to lose their homework assignment and library books, but they can sniff out a present like a hound dog can a raccoon. Wrap these gems in overpriced paper, decorate with ribbons and bows, and strategically place them beneath the tree so as to appear random.

    And I'm not even going to address the Christmas card situation, no pun intended!

    But for those Martha Stewart wannabees out there, there is a website to use for next year called www.organizedchristmas.com - I have no idea how this could actually be implemented into real life scenarios, when you factor in oh, I don't know.....LIFE into the equation.

    But Merry Christmas to all, and happy coping!

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  14. Yep. Right there with you. My biggest issue over the past few years has been with the expense. Ordering the photos for a start, but that trip to the post office to mail the damn things and getting hit with a $100 bill. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I don't even know if anybody cares about the damn things. All of the time and effort are one thing (I spent an entire morning getting the photo card "just right"), but then spending close to $200 when you add up the postage and the cards themselves?! But, yeah, I've got mine all sitting awaiting my attention this weekend. Hopefully. Because its that time of year again. And maybe next year I'll just skip it. If I have the guts to.

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  15. I haven't been organized enough to send Christmas cards since my six year old's first Christmas. This year I bought a groupon for cards a few weeks ago. The hope is that having bought cards and stamps, I really have no excuse not to finish. However I haven't actually made the cards yet online, and the family photo we were going to take at Thanksgiving never happened, so... I wonder if that groupon will be good for next year?

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  16. Every year I tell myself that I'm going to send out cards but then every year I find other things to do instead of making the card, like laundry or feeding the kids. Maybe next year sigh.

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  17. At CostCo they do them at the 1 hour photo and they are $15 for 50 and then $5 for each 25 after that.

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  18. Cards go to: Senior family members, siblings {mine and his}, our offices, friends, and any poor unfortunate who put us on their card list last year and it came in after I sent mine out {like you, for instance}. I have a serious Christmas card habit, and so have been working my way through several years of leftover cards so I can, with a clear conscience, buy some new ones! I have the green light for this year. I sign our names and that's it and use some of the thousands of printed address stickers that charities send you at this time of year. As for the spousal unfortunate terminology, that's when he gets stabbed with the fine line roller ball pen in a sensitive place. Merry Christmas!

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  19. Printing out the addresses onto labels isn't tacky. Or if it is, who cares!

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  20. I actually had a plan this year since I'm not pregnant. We took family photos over thanksgiving, then just yesterday I "made" and ordered 25 cards from shutterfly. It was so easy and looked good, I signed our names on the inside and on the back was able to write a short summary of the year, done. then they have the opetions, printing the addresses on I thought great, that's save me time, I spent an hour typing them in cause I still have a hndwritten address book. I was ready to complete my order and realized it was going to cost me close to $50, so no addresses after all, and it saved me $10. Here's hoping I can still get them out in time:)

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  21. Thanks for writing this! It reminded me I need to get working on mine. I started that letter back after Halloween but need to get it looked over and edit it some more. I also need to get the cards picked out. We just do those photo ones and put out names on it so the people who do not see us at some point in the year can figure out who sent it. I usually just put pics of the kids on it, since I cannot remember when we had our last family photo taken. Usually either Hubby or myself are taking the picture so I don't want to really use that as they might jump to the conclusion that one of us has left at some point during the year. LOL I need to check out vistaprint as I usually use snapfish but it is a pain to sometimes upload the pictures there.

    Jrseygirl in VA

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  22. Having read all the comments and your post, I've decided I'm NOT sending cards this year. I've thought about it and I don't really care if I receive any, and I'm sure others feel the same, so I'm not going to go nuts over it. I typically send cards to people I see regularly anyway, so they don't need the update and I can give my holiday greeting in person. Problem solved. Now if someone could just wrap all my gifts, I would be totally set.

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  23. Ok, I'll share my secret strategy for Christmas cards ... I get 35 cards (or whatever number is close to that that I can buy on line) I keep the cards and a roll of stamps in my little office area. When a card comes in from a friend or family member, I send them a card back. This can be done in between updating your Facebook status, looking for a recipe online, or on your way out the door to the mailbox, it does not require that long stretch of time that "the other way" does. And it's cheaper because it keeps the numbers down because then you're only sending cards to the people to whom sending and receiving Christmas cards is important ... No one needs to know your strategy ... it's your own little mommy secret.

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  24. I love Shutterfly. Give them your email address, like them on facebook and google for coupon codes, it's amazing how cheap you can get things. I just ordered 25 cards, a calendar, 2 8x10's, 4-5x7's, a few 4x6's and some wallets for $12. You can use multiple coupon codes at once with them so enter as many as you can find. I would love to let them address and mail our cards but we have a family get together in a couple of weeks and its a tradition to hand cards to people (saves on postage anyway). I secretly suspect that years ago one of my relatives lost an address book or waited to late to get cards and started this "tradition" but who cares!

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  25. I am in the midst of cards this year and 2nd the Costco idea. We spent $11 for 50 cards with envelopes since they had a store coupon going. That's less than a quarter for each card/envelope. We could've ordered 25 more at only $5 more. There is not really a way to save on the stamps, though I have considered a postcard. How's that for tacky?
    I have a file for the addresses-I just check it over before printing to stickers every year. I let my kids stuff them, stick the address labels and return labels on the envelopes. I or my hubby put on a stamp and use a glue stick to stick em shut. I don't include a letter cause I don't have anything to talk about. I keep in touch with people I send cards to all year long- Christmas cards are just a tradition for me- and a fun way to say Merry Christmas in an old fashioned way. I have to say I prefer it over just posting a pic to FB or getting an email. So, since I like the snail mail way, I do it too.

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  26. Labels from vistaprint (free w/)shipping 2.75
    Take the best photo of each person and tile them on photoshop, add a greeting, then upload to snapfish THEN use snapfish credits (cokerewardpoints, disney movie rewards, etc) order in matte (only pay shipping) 2
    Buy a pack of envelopes 2
    Two books of stamps 16.5

    Stuff envelopes, affix stamps, affix label
    and write recipient address by Thanksgiving. Drop on mailbox on Black Friday. Should start showing up in mailboxes on Dec 1 and you only spent an hour and less than $25 on customized christmas cards.

    I must be a Gwyneth because this is the EASY part for me. Also, I'm done shopping. :D

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  27. Oh lord, I actually had one year where I gave up and mailed out Chinese New Year cards instead of Christmas cards. (That year it was early February. My best friend called to tell me I was *brilliant*.)

    I always write a stupid newsletter, and have been informed by people who love me that it's a fun read, but they of course are obligated to say so. It's just that, like you, for many people this is their annual reacquaintance with my family, so...everyone gets a couple of sentences to Be Awesome, which sometimes devolves into hilarious stories of kids picking noses in inappropriate places because how much can a 2-year-old *really* accomplish?

    Tacky or not, I actually use those pre-printed please-donate-money-to-our-charity mailing labels, because otherwise those suckers just would.not.get.done.

    DO NOT GET ME STARTED on the Husbandly "We" Syndrome. I got a real laugh a couple days ago when a husband came in to where his wife and I were talking and asked if "we" had gotten the kids about ready to go. She - the spunky awesome lady in her final stages of chemo (done for Christmas, yay!) with a medical boot on one foot - simply looked at him and said, "I don't know, did you? I guess you'd better get started then."

    My husband told me a few years ago that he wanted "us" to do more festive things for all the holidays in the year. He thought "we" should maybe decorate more, and "we" should organize fun family activities with the kids. I told him he was welcome to do those things, and that I would be happy to participate, and that he was welcome to participate in the fun things that *I* organized, like putting up the damn decorations while seasonally-appropriate music plays in the background, and the one or two crafts I bully the kids into doing. Would you believe, we decorate about as much as we ever have, and have about the same number of festive activities? But now he happily comments on how great the place looks. Thanks, hon, you're a peach.

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  28. I gave up on sending out Christmas cards a long time ago. I like getting Christmas cards, especially when they have a lovely letter and photos, but it's not going to happen here. And I no longer even feel guilty about it.

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  29. I made 6 different possible photo cards on Walmart. com over the holiday weekend. I showed them to my husband so that he could have some say in which one(s) WE chose...big mistake. His only commentary surrounded the fact that he thought WE need to take new pictures because it "doesn't look right" that the pics are from the beach and/or Halloween because these are CHRISTMAS CARDS...sigh....

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  30. My new mantra: 'I'm amazing for doing this at all.' We have no decent family pic b/c my 2 yr old perpetual motion machine won't smile if it's not mom or dad behind the camera? Whatever, we're all in the picture- I'm amazing for doing this at all. The cards won't get to people until at least New Years? Whatever, I'm amazing for doing this at all. I've been known to send MLK day cards, so New Years is improvement. Freebie St. Jude's return address labels are tacky- whatever, I'm amazing for sending cards at all.

    This mantra works for EVERYTHING xmas: we only have 6 poorly (hand) made ornaments to hang on the tree! Whatever, I'm amazing for bothering with a tree at all. I don't have enough wrapping paper so I have to use a Trader Joe's bag for the rest of the presents! Whatever, it's amazing I got presents and am actually wrapping them.

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  31. My husband TOTALLY just put the photo in an envelope, sealed it, stamped and addressed them and left them for me to mail. I told him you have to WRITE SOMETHING on the card. But it was too late. A huge stack of Christmas Cards. How organized of him. I shrugged and dropped them in the mail yesterday. He said"But they printed Merry Christmas on the card". That is true honey, that is true.

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  32. I personally think pre-printed cards with just a signature are a waste of time and money. Thanks for the picture of baby Jesus or Santa and your autograph, but those things get tossed in the trash when the decorations come down. So either send a photo card, or a letter. We do photo cards, with NO time-consuming personal note, b/c "a picture is worth a thousand words", right?

    Every year I make our family take a picture in front of the tree at the beginning of Dec for our Christmas cards. The husband has said on several occasions we should make it a picture of just the kids. NOPE. It is practically the only time during year we are all in the same picture together, and I also use that picture for an annual ornament - but don't worry, it's nothing too crafty. Plus, some people like to see that we are alive and well, or have put on twenty pounds, or changed our hair, etc.

    Anyway, I also decided a couple years ago to quit purchasing those bordered photo cards, b/c they can be costly when you have to order like 100 of them. (Did I mention that my husband is from a small town, and feels the need to send cards to not only his friends from grade school, but also to those friends' parents! :| Yep, so he is the one who wants "us" to send out so many freaking cards) Now I just open my photo in Microsoft Paint, add a text box with the greeting and names - either in a empty space in the photo, or adding to the picture, save it 4X6 size, and upload that to walmart.com to print at 9cents each. Hello $9, not $90! I save that money for the postage - ugh.

    Also, for the love of God, I use printed labels!

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  33. Ugh, we just did ours on Sunday. Snapfish. They were having a 50% off thing so it was worth it to do it early. Usually I'm frantically doing it a week before Xmas and paying through the nose for express shipping. We have a two year old and neither parent tends to be too photogenic, so finding an acceptable picture is difficult. We now choose one that has 5 or so spots and put in a variety, highlighting the kids [and don't forget the dog] and we might figure in a little bit. I get our names printed on the card and don't write a damn thing on them. I used to feel guilty but I'm done with that! I do handwrite the addresses because I take some strange pleasure in that, but I totally use the freebie return addresses. And yes, all the pictures are from the summer, why is that a problem? Jeez. I love beachy pics of the kids, so sue me. :)

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  34. I hate sending out cards too! I haven't done it for the past three years, since my mom died on Thanksgiving. I'm totally milking that one for all holiday seasons to come!

    In your case I think you should snap a pic of your cherubs in front of your new house. Go online to a create your own card site and make combo new address/happy holiday cards, put in all the addresses you are sending them to, pay the $$$ and have the company send them directly out for you.
    OR
    Better yet, send out an email explaining that you love everyone and wish them the bestest holidays but with the move so close to the holidays you won't be sending out your usual wonderful card and btw...here's our new address. ;)

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  35. I've been doing New Year's cards with a bunch of pix I love from the year, or if I get reaeeeallly lazy, picture of my daughter by the xmas tree! I do it online at walmart.com--takes like 15 mintues and by the time I get to the store, they're printed! woot! And print labels. And don't sign. DONE!

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  36. Some years I do them. Some years I don't. I didn't last year b/c kiddo was undergoing chemo so everyone knew what was happening and saw photos because of her Caring Bridge site. I am leaning towards not to do them this year. Most of the people I would send them to are on Facebook so why bother? They can look at the current photos there. I'll probably do a few for the older relatives but that's about it.

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  37. I've done it all different ways (pre-kids, first kid Christmas, etc). I've had half of them addressed and never mailed them. My new plan: Last year, after Christmas I went to Target and bought loads of Christmas cards for pennies - like, seriously!!! AND they happen to be the kind you can stick a 4x6 photo in the front of. A) these are cheaper to print than the card designs B) I dunno about everyone else... but I'd rather keep a photo of people I love to put in an album than have random Christmas cards on the fridge for months/throwing them out after the holidays!!! So, aren't I just like Gwyneth???

    Ohhhh, I did forget to mention that we just moved and the cards are in storage even though I specifically asked the hubby to keep them out to the front when storing stuff.....

    Soooo now I'm back to square one. (Someone remind me to use the previous idea next year when I've forgotten they exist... that is, if our stuff is out of storage by then?!?!) Solution? Cheapo cards with cheasy santa / snowman pictures on the front... printing out 4x6 cards on Snapfish (up to 500 prints @ 1 penny each right now...), shoving them in the cards and done. Oh - and if I had the ambition to type up addresses onto labels, I'd use them.

    ;) Kristin

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  38. Exemplary first world problem.

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  39. Sign me up for the Bad American category... I don't.even.bother.

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  40. I buy my cards, print my own {small} pictures, print address labels, and and use the free return labels that come in the mail. I do write a greeting and sign the cards, but lately I've gotten lazy and sign "The XXXX Family" instead of all 5 of our names. And no personal notes. Anyone who doesn't send a card back for 2 years in a row (with 2 or 3 very special exceptions) is off the list. We're down to 32. :)

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  41. Church directory pic + picnik.com + snapfish offering penny prints = this years Christmas cards. Order 100, send to people NOT on FB first, then when you get the "aw your card was so cute" email, wait a week, and post it on FB for the losers you didnt want to waste $.50 on. And please do not mail until 2nd week of December. No one wants to look at another family's picture on their fridge for that long.

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  42. This post is great! Imagine the stress and procrastination that you have detailed so well here being what the average person goes through with the whole Holiday-Card-Debacle and then think about what a person with ADHD goes through.

    Ugh!

    And on top of it all, I'm at the early stages of divorce so when I send out the cards this year I am hoping that the absence of my husband's name from the greeting tells its own story and I can leave it at that. Actually, the fact that the list of people I have to mail cards to has been effectively sliced in half should be motivation enough for me to actually hop to it, but alas I haven't yet. Grrrrr.

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  43. To update, my sister just got her card in the mail and called to tell me "the baby looked cute and I did a good job hiding all my gray hair." THANKS. That is the worst compliment I've gotten since my husband told me I looked like Mrs. Claus. I love being prematurely gray and pregnant.

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  44. I'm just seeing this post now, but thought I'd share my solution to the Christmas card dilemma- YOUTUBE!!
    I take photos and video of our family throughout the year, edit it together for the length of 1 song, post it on YouTube and email people the link. DONE!
    It's also a nice keepsake for years after for us- it's a highlight of everything we did in that year!

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