Passionate About the Community
and the Moms Who Live Here

Are Christmas Cards REALLY Necessary?

Are Christmas Cards NecessaryDecember sneaked up on me, again. This year, I find myself at a new crossroads wondering the answer to the following question: Are Christmas cards really necessary?

In our era of I-see-pictures-of-my-friends-across-the-country-every-day-on-Instagram, must I really dress up the family, drag them around some park wearing Christmas outfits on an eighty degree October day, then pay some nice photo service to print a few hundred copies of said photo with a seasonal greeting stamped on top?

I’m not sure. 

To me, it feels like the whole purpose of the holiday card changed. I remember when we actually read the text on gold-foiled cards emblazoned with “Joy to the World.” We looked forward to reading a typed “holiday update” from friends and family we hadn’t seen since their last year’s greeting. Christmas cards that contained photos were especially exciting because all other communication through the year contained no visuals. The focus of the greeting was the message, not the handsomeness of the family.

Now, we see photos of friends and family all the time. So have we lost the purpose behind holiday greetings? Has all of our social connecting negated the need for Christmas cards?

Every December (Okay and occasionally in November because some of my friends are overachievers), I look forward to checking the mail. Whose picture are we going to get today? I wonder.

I sort through the bills, junk mail, and . . . Ooooh! Here’s one!

I rip it open and see a Pinterest worthy clothing color scheme (Her scarf matches her daughter’s bow and the teeny little stripe in their son’s plaid shirt—cute!), a gorgeous background (Were they in the Caribbean this summer?). . . and, I think . . .

That’s nice, but didn’t I see this picture in my feed yesterday?

The whole photo-centric part of the neo-Christmas card tradition makes me feel as if I’m partaking in some sort of bizarre holiday beauty contest. A contest where no one is really awarded the “prettiest Christmas card” prize yet, with the opening of every new envelope, I subconsciously morph into the Joan Rivers of Christmas Card critique. “Oh, that’s a cute design. Love how they coordinated outfit colors with the card background.” Or, “That’s a great picture of her, I wonder where she found that dress?”Christmas cards are they necessary Dallas Moms blog

Something else goes on in my heart that I’m not proud of. Now, when I send my cards to you, I’m no longer thinking about you and reconnecting because it’s the holidays. Instead, I’m thinking: Wow, I hope our picture makes you think well of us. And, some years: Shoot – I hope you get my card within a reasonable amount of time to when I got yours so that you don’t think I left you off of my list!

Then there’s the price tag. The annual family photo can cost you anywhere from $100 to $600 (or more, depending on the photographer). If you are like me, you pick up a few new coordinating wardrobe pieces for said photo. Add $100 (I shop at Target). Then you must purchase the cards. Add another $100 or more. Then buy the stamps. Add another $50 (although who really keeps track of how much stamps cost now). And address labels. There goes another $10 and a day of my life trying to get them to print correctly. Soon, for the price of this project we could take a three day cruise to Mexico.

Last year I printed 200 Christmas cards. I sent 125. That left me with 75 copies of our family Christmas card and a terribly awkward situation. I can’t just throw away all those lovely pictures of my kids, can I? That seems mean. Maybe I’ll need them for our family album or something (We don’t do a family album). So, I keep them. Every year. They fill a drawer now. (Please call the nice people at the “Hoarders” show and report me.) 

So, I ask you, do we still need to send Christmas cards? Is this $500 project really a priority in my Christmas budget? Do you really need my family picture in your card stack to have a brighter holiday?

I’m not sure.

But I’m definitely going to sit down and rethink this as soon as I get these cards mailed.

Do you do Christmas cards? What do you think? Are holiday cards still necessary?

, , ,

11 Responses to Are Christmas Cards REALLY Necessary?

  1. Blayne December 18, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    I like them as an excuse why my husband needs to be in our family picture (as opposed to just the kids). I have been having family pictures done every year anyway, and I hope to continue that. Then again, we only got 50 cards printed and I got a good deal on that. So… no, not really necessary. But I like sending them (and getting them!) and as long as its not putting a strain on the budget I plan to keep it up.

  2. Alice December 18, 2015 at 8:36 am #

    I had the exact same thoughts this year. One thing I started doing last year was keeping the cards in a basket in a drawer or closet, and pulling out one a week and talking about the family with our kids at dinner time. Seemed to give the cards a little more purpose and provided a good family conversation!

  3. PamV December 18, 2015 at 9:04 am #

    I love receiving them as I do put them in an album after the holidays. It’s fun to look back through the years and see how family and friends have changed. (I never to back over photos on FB, etc. to see old photos.) Plus, some on my list are older and not FB, etc. users. I often just use photos taken at events over the current year (like a graduation, wedding or baptism) and use those instead of getting a special one done at Xmas time. Most years, it was just of our children.and now of our grandson and our grown up children and spouses.

  4. Monica Brown December 18, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    I love receiving cards and giving them. I too, love the fact that it gives us an excuse to get dressed up and venture out for a good time getting pictures. I try not to stress anymore about everything being just right and it seems the less I stress, the better the whole picture taking process turns out. This year we promised the children a special outing after a happy cooperative time taking pictures and that really helped things go well. I also hope many of my friends will think of me and my family and include me in their prayers. .we can always use prayer.

  5. SHarrison December 18, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    They do seem a little antiquated but this year I’m not getting any because our mail is no longer being forwarded to our new address, and I miss them. This year, instead of picture, I’m writing a note to everyone. I will also send some funny electronic ones.

  6. CDG December 18, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    Yet another thing that people will use social media to replace, and make our lives and interactions even less personal and disconnected. I think you’re exaggerating and overblowing the whole issue. Christmas cards can be however stressful you make them, and if your mindset is turning them into a competition then it’s your own personal issue. You don’t like spending $500 on the whole thing? Then don’t! Use a collage of pictures you’ve taken throughout the year, or wear clothes you already have. If you want to coordinate, put everybody in a white shirt which you already have. I love receiving Christmas cards…somebody’s hands touched these and put them in an envelope and by sending them, they said “I was thinking about YOU and took time out of my day to make sure you know I was thinking about you during the holidays.” If you post a picture and “happy holidays” on social media, that means nothing. You’re just updating your status with a few clicks of the keyboard. Christmas is is about specifically reaching out to people you care about. There are a lot of elderly people who don’t use social media and really value receiving these cards…some of them get few visitors throughout the year but getting a card is such a bright light for them. I know several who keep those cards throughout the year, it makes them feel loved. An email or social media post can’t do that. I think the problem here is that people are just getting more selfish and not thinking about what the purpose of cards are. If you’re using it for selfish purposes (to show yourself off) then sure, don’t do it, but Christmas cards are a way to give a little bit of your heart to those you don’t see frequently…it makes me sad to see posts like this.

  7. Elizabeth K December 18, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    I love doing cards! As I address them (I still hand write), I think fondly of memories with that person or family. When I get a card, I love seeing pictures, and even if I’ve seen them before I like seeing which ones they loved the best. Cards a great way of keeping in a more personal touch with people. I love putting the cards I get out on display so the kids can see them throughout the season. ♡♡♡♡

  8. Melissa December 23, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

    I love this post! ! My husband would rather send out cards but I end up doing all the work. This year I did not send out cards, mostly for the reasons you expressed above. And I don’t feel one ounce of guilt for it!

  9. Leslie E December 23, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    Like many of the people leaving comments here, I love Christmas cards too! I keep all the ones we receive. I organize them by year in a plastic bag. They are beautiful and special and someone took the time and energy to put them together, address and send them. I don’t care how busy I get I will always send a Christmas card. But I love paper and stationary too and still send hand written thank you notes. Some years mine are formal with a photographer picture and other times they are casual with pictures that I took. The point shouldn’t be to stress about them, but instead to think of them as a small token of your love or appreciation for the person that you are sending them to for the holiday.

  10. Debbie December 27, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    In an age where selfies own the Internet, people gauge their value based on the number of likes, and parents are more comfortable sharing everything about their kid in a public post on Facebook before calling grandma, I embrace Christmas cards. It’s a timeless tradition to wish someone a merry holiday, sans emojis. It means you took the time to share the holiday spirit instead of sending a two-second text message to all of your contacts (in the same group message in which several people will reply to all for the next 24 hours). I may be in my early 30s but I think that’s a great thing, but then again, I’m the same mom who also takes the time to write thank you cards or teaches my children to do the same after a birthday party.

  11. Christa November 29, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    I enjoyed your article I’m reading it a year later. I’ve decided to opt out of Christmas cards for several
    Years now. Don’t get me wrong, I love them! But, the focus seems to have shifted. Or something seems just a bit off about it now a days. Like so many things now, and especially during the holidays, it seems to be about more, more, more. I let our friends and family know we wholeheartedly love them all the while trying to keep a little more simplicity in Christmas and our focus & money on the very reason why we honor the scared time of year.

Leave a Reply