Holiday cards are a great way of staying in touch with friends and family. Photo greeting cards from those you care about can make a great keepsake. But for many people, the annual tradition is a struggle. With a little planning and organization, you won't have to scramble at the list minute to get your address book up-to-date. You can create a system that you use each year that will help you save time and stress.
1. Keep an organized address book. Whether you prefer pen and paper or a digital address book, there are many tools out there that can help you organize addresses. Options include a traditional address book, a contact list linked to your email or phone, an address book app, or a spreadsheet. The choices abound. When choosing the type of address book that is right for you, consider if it will include all the information you want. For example, you may want to include your contacts' birthdays, children's names, maiden names, relationship to you. For me personally, I prefer using an Excel spreadsheet because I can customize it, update it easily, and access it from anywhere through the cloud.
2. Maintain your address book. You will save yourself a lot of grief during the holidays if you update your address book throughout the year. Each time I receive mail from someone I know has moved, I take the envelope with their return address on it to my computer and update my address book.
3. Create a list of recipients. Using your address book, make a list of everyone you plan to send a greeting card to. In my Excel address book, the first tab of the spreadsheet is the master address list, but I make copies of that tab for specific purposes, such as holiday greeting cards. This way I know the information on my recipient list is current.
4. Buy your cards. Once you know how many cards you will send, you can buy your holiday cards. You should decide whether you want to buy stock cards or send a personalized photo card. A good rule of thumb is to buy a few additional cards in case you make any mistakes or if someone sends you a card who wasn't on your list of recipients.
5. Buy supplies. When ordering your greeting cards, it may be worth investing in additional supplies, such as return address labels, a rubber stamp, envelope sealer, etc. When sending out a large quantity of cards, these supplies can save you time, and they can also add flair to your mailing. Don't forget to buy stamps!
6. Print your recipients' addresses. Another time saver to consider is printing address labels for your recipients. You can purchase address labels from most office supplies stores and they come with templates that you can download so that it's compatible with your printer.
7. Prepare the mailing. Make sure you have all your supplies handy and set reasonable goals for how many envelopes you want to complete each day. I like to go through the process assembly line-style. First, I prepare the envelopes by addressing them, stamping them, and adding my return address. Then, I write a personalized message on the cards. Next, I stuff the envelopes. Finally, I seal the envelopes and put them in the mailbox. In the Excel tab I created specifically for my holiday cards, I track this process so I know the status of each card (eg., is the envelope addressed, has it been placed in the mail). This is especially helpful if I won't complete the task in a single session.
8. Track who sent you a holiday card. In my Excel address book, I like to note who sent me a holiday card. This is helpful if I accidentally left someone off of my recipient list and want to include them on my list next year.
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