Are you sending holiday greeting cards via regular mail this year? I’m not. No, I’m not a Scrooge — really I’m not. In fact, I truly love the holidays. But I have a thing about spending time and money on holiday greeting cards.
However, I’m afraid I’m in the minority. Hallmark says Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States with approximately 1.5 billion cards sent every year. The U.S. Census Bureau reports about 2 billion cards will be mailed and delivered during the holiday season, with the heaviest period occurring the week before Christmas.
But let me explain my issue. Greeting cards can be expensive, and it takes a lot of time to sign and address each one. (I don’t like pre-printed cards because they seem so impersonal.) Think about this: If, on average, each greeting card costs $1.00 (which is probably on the low side), then the amount of money spent during the season on greeting cards is approximately $2 billion — and that doesn’t include the postage. That’s a lot of money for an item that probably is barely read and then tossed in a holiday card holder.
Secondly, what happens to all those cards once the holidays are over? I bet most of you throw them in the trash ... right? Sure, it’s nice to open a card and realize someone was thoughtful enough to think of you this year. I particularly like the cards with pictures of my friends’ children and/or pets. Also, the “let me catch you up” letters are interesting when you haven’t seen someone in a while.
But why can’t we accomplish the same thing with an online holiday greeting? Service providers like Constant Contact offer multiple holiday templates that you can personalize with images, videos, and messages that will reflect your business or organization. If it's appropriate, you can also link to photo albums that are hosted on sites like Flickr or the Kodak Gallery. I love seeing photos online. In fact, I’m more likely to keep digital photos than I am hard copies.
Finally, e-cards don’t kill trees. I’m not an avid environmentalist, but I do think it makes very little sense to use a natural resource for a card that has limited impact. Certainly, there are cards made from recycled products, but how many people choose to use them?
There are, of course, a few exceptions to my “no holiday card” sentiments, and that's people who have not yet embraced technology. For example, I could never send an e-card to my cousin, Martha, because she refuses to get an email address. My dad, too; forget about it. So, of course, they’ll be getting a regular card from me this year.
What do you think? Do you have plans to send holiday cards this year, either through regular mail or email? Please share your comments here or on Constant Contact's Facebook Page.