Thrifty Christmas: Christmas Greetings

I’ve been sending out handwritten Christmas cards since I was in grade school. I bought my cards through Current, Inc., because the price went down if you could get a big enough order. At that time, they had a wide variety of really lovely stationary and note cards. I used to send postcards because both the cost of the cards and the postage were lower (this is still true).

I send out 38 or 40 cards a year, and I keep track of who I receive cards from as well as who I am sending cards to. My Lang address book has a Christmas card record. Hallmark address books also have had them in the past. For years, I have used five-year Christmas card record books put out by Current. I keep my Christmas card record next to my address book all year so that I can keep them both update.( I will start using my new Lang address book for that purpose next year and that will eliminate the repetition!) If I don’t get a card, letter, e-mail, or telephone call from a person on my card list for two holiday seasons in succession, I don’t send out a card the following year unless they are elderly, sick, or family. It sounds Grinchy, but it keeps costs down and the number of cards I send out manageable.

I like to enclose a handwritten note or letter with each card. I start on cards right after Thanksgiving. If I can personally wish someone a Merry Christmas, I don’t send a card. I make some time to greet them in person. My husband and I keep our cards separate. He already had an extensive Christmas card list when I married him. I have met but don’t have a personal relationship with most of the people on his list. He likes to send a yearly Christmas letter, which I help him with by addressing envelopes and keeping track of his list along with mine.

I found half of this year’s Christmas cards (20) at the St. Vincent DePaul thrift store for $1.70. They have a vintage Christmas sale every year in November at their westside Madison location. I used to wait in line for it until they started raising their prices and selling off the best stuff on eBay! (Times are hard, and I don’t blame them for trying to make the most money for charity—but I do miss the great stuff I used to find there!) Since they start the sale midweek, I usually go in at some point on the first day, and there is still plenty to pick through.

I also pick up a lot of my cards (stickers and note paper) at garage sales during the summer. I run across whole boxes of cards at garage sales for 25 and 50 cents each!  Most people don’t like to send out the same card two years in a row (or ever!), which means there are always beautiful cards to pick up for very little. (The same holds true for wrapping paper and gift bags!) I hold my odds-and- ends cards for three or four years and then use them again. Most people don’t remember the design of the card they sent out three years ago much less the one I sent out!

I donated a bunch of cards I’d found at garage sales to my church for their Christmas Basket kindness this year. (They weren’t spreading any Christmas cheer sitting in a box in my basement!) Then there are the freebie cards, address labels, gift tags, stickers, and note paper that come unsolicited in the mail. It pays to open some of your junk mail! Begonia

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