Monday, December 21, 2015

It's in the Cards. Really. Soon.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Here’s an idea.  A modest proposal, if you will.

How about if we extend the holiday card season through, say mid-January? So you can send Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, solstice, New Years, Boxing day, whatever cards. Without anyone saying—oh, duh,  she’s procrastinating

Because I love getting real card-cards, in the actual mail. I even like sending them. Kind of. When I get in the mood. It’s fun to look a the the list of names, and remember the people, and have a pang of happiness, or nostalgia, or love. And it's extra fun when you are finished.

But yikes. I can NEVER  get them done in time. NEVER.  Just about the time I can say, "Well, okay, then, time to do the cards," it’s like, the day after Christmas. And I’m too late.

But listen.  There’s that whole weird week before New Years where you kind of have a moment to breathe. Why don’t we make THAT card-starting week?

So, yeah, all that is to say I’m getting started now, which means—finding the cards. Forgive me okay? They’re coming. Probably. It’s all in the works.

How do you handle holiday cards? 

LUCY BURDETTE: OH you mean that week between Christmas and New Year's isn't for cards?? I love getting cards, and sending news to folks we haven't seen, but it is a big job. Last year we whacked our list in half and still had a hundred to send.

And sadly, we are label-challenged. that would make it so much easier--to have them all printed out and be able to stick them to the envelopes, no muss no fuss. Another problem--figuring out what's going on the cards. We used to send out a letter and a card. Cut that back to a photo card with a short note already printed inside. But what to say? No one wants to be pinned as the people who brag. But just a signature? what's the point?

Mine are supposed to be on the way too:). Oh wait, special delivery, here they are. Please enjoy the lighthouse growing out of John's head.  And then hope you will consider yourself carded! Have a lovely holiday, Reds! 

HANK:  Too funny!  Love this...

HALLIE EPHRON: Lucy, you're you're "down to" a hundred??? I'm down to about eight. Mailed cards, that is. I channel the guilt I feel about not sending cards into an email writing binge. Same week I do all my charitable giving. Not a form letter or an e-card but an actual message to the individuals whom YES I do miss seeing and want to catch up with. But I love Love LOVE getting cards. My daughter and her husband send one with my granddaughter Franny on it which I adore. My nephew and his wife sent a beautiful photo card - the best part is the calligraphed note and address. No labels for her. All take pride of place on my fireplace mantle.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I don't do cards. In the household division of labor, Noel does the holiday cards. Which turn into New Year cards most years, I think? I dunno — I have to say cards are my least favorite part of the season and a few years I gave up on them -- too much stress. So now I just sign whatever Noel puts in front of me. I know it sounds kind of "Bah, humbug," but I really do love other things (lights, carols, cookies) and just don't have time anymore for the other things. Plus, everyone's online now! I do use a great online card company — Jacquie Lawson. She does adorable cards with animation and music — love them and recipients seem to, as well!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I ping-pong around the Christmas card universe: there have been years when we've done a photo card and sent it out to every friend, family member, bookstore owner and librarian we know; years when I've done e-cards (they're so pretty, but it still feels like cheating), years when we send out eight, like Hallie, and years when I get overwhelmed and nothing goes to anyone. I agree with Hank, I love to get real mail, but in some ways, it does seem superfluous in the age of Facebook.

There clearly needs to be a movement to make New Years cards the big thing. It makes more sense - non-sectarian, affects everyone, and best of all, those of us who are always a day late can get them written in the quiet days after Christmas!

RHYS BOWEN: Oh, I do cards. We have so many friends and relatives who live abroad that Christmas is sometimes the only time we hear from them. I usually write and address my foreign cards in November, while I watch TV or listen to music. We used to send over 100 but alas the number dwindles each year as older friends and cousins are no more. I used to write a long message inside each card. Now we do an email newsletter to go with them, which makes the job a lot simpler.   And I've become a big fan of Jacquie Lawson cards because they are so pretty and you get music as well (and I can send them at the last minute without a guilty conscience).

DEBORAH CROMBIE: We've made our own cards for nearly twenty years. First, it was hand-carved, hand-stamped woodcuts. Then it was photos, with a long printed note. Then, a couple of years ago, we looked at the price of double-fold, really nice cards with envelopes and a list that approached a couple of hundred (quite a few out of the US) and said, "ACK."  So we started sending e-cards, but we still do the photos ourselves. And we get later and later. Last year we sent them on the 19th. This year, it's--oh, wait, it can't really be that late, can it? 

We spent hours last night trying to wrangle the dogs--or the cats, if they were handy--into a suitable pose. Do you know how hard it is to get two dogs, both looking at the camera, in front of the Christmas tree? Don't ask. I think we will have one dog on our card...

But we LOVE getting cards, and notes, and even the infamous Christmas letter. 

And I send Jacqui Lawson cards, too. What's nice about those, and about the e-cards we send, is the option to reply. So that way we keep in touch with friends that we don't see often.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: So Reds and readers—how are you doing? Writing cards like mad? Wincing when you get the mail and see how organized your friends are?  (They are SO much fun to open!) What do you think about ecards? Do you notice your cards are dwindling?  Will you give us until the first week of January?  Tell us what’s in the cards for you…


AND CONGRATULATIONS to the winner from Saturday of Connie Mayo's THE ISLAND OF LOST BOYS is Kait Carson! Please email megan "at" sparkpointstudio "dot" com and let her know where to send your book.


  1. There's something really special about getting real mail out of the mailbox, slitting envelopes, and actually holding that beautiful card in your hands.

    That said, I live in the land of good intentions . . . I find the Precious Moments cards I like and buy however many boxes I think I'll need. But it gets a bit dicey after that since I am notoriously bad at getting them out on time. [I did so much better when I had three toddlers to deal with while I wrote all those cards . . . I wrote so many more of them in those days and they were never late then.]

    I'm perfectly satisfied with sending them the week between Christmas and New Year's.

  2. I think New Year's cards are a splendid idea, and I love receiving real cards. When my sons were young I always did a picture card and send to lots of people. I'm now down to 8 (no grandkids yet...), or was it 6? I have lots of friends around the world - but I just can't do it. The only people who get cards are my siblings, my partner's siblings, and my son's girlfriends parents. I already send out an author newsletter complete with pictures and news several times a year, so I guess that's my email newsletter.

    And I'm sure I'm in a tiny minority - but I hate getting notified that I've been sent a Jaquie Lawson ecard. No! I feel obliged to open it and sit through it, and it's very nice to get something from my good friends in Mexico and my housebound friend a few towns away. But I just can't stand the things.

  3. Isn't it funny Joan, the busier we are, the more we accomplish?

    Edith, you are allowed to hate the Jaquie Lawson cards! we'll try to remember and not send you one:).

    And really truly, who says the cards have to arrive before xmas? I have college friends who've sent theirs out after the first for years, without a whisker of remorse!

  4. I used to do cards when I was younger, but there just doesn't seem to be the time anymore. It's not that I don't miss the people, in fact, I think of them more now than ever, but it just seems like one more task to fit into a day that is already overflowing.

    New Year's cards...I like that idea.

    And why does it not surprise me that Rhys would be the star of the card-sending Reds. Getting them out in November. Show off! ;)

    Let's just consider this my holiday wish to the Reds and the Red-followers: May your holiday season be bright and your New Year even brighter!

  5. I like sending valentines, especially with a family photo from Christmas.

  6. I've sometimes sent cards after Christmas. The nice part is being able to respond to notes in cards I received. Some years I skip. I'm down to about 20 cards. Well, make that Christmas letters, sometimes inside a card and sometimes just as a letter. Yes, they pretty much say the same thing and they're printed, but I like getting something similar from friends. It's often the only time I hear from some of these folks.

  7. I'm with Susan. I love getting the cards (although this year, I can't find the blue tape to stick them up so they don't take the paint off the trim and they're in a pile). But sending them? You have to find one (the hubby doesn't like photo cards), buy them, address them (my daughter insists no labels), mail them...ugh.

    I'm perfectly happy with an e-card. And yes, New Year's cards need to be A Thing.

  8. Okay, so we're agreed on that…whew.

    I LOVE the holiday newsletters--some are sweet and some are HILARIOUS. Wouldn't it be a funny off-Broadway show, reading them? And making some up, and then trying to decide which are fake?

    (You can tell I'm supposed to be doing revisions. I have all kinds of good ideas except the ones that would be valuable for the book…)

    And now, appropriately, I am off to the post office! I will be back--you think soon?--with an update.

  9. "The post office?" she screeched. "YOU'RE NOT GOING TO THE POST OFFICE?"
    Second only to the mall as THE scariest place to go Monday before Christmas. Report back on the lines, please.

  10. Am I the only one who thinks Jacquie Lawson cars have gotten longer? They're cute but they do go on. And on.

  11. Oh, I'm so excited that I will be receiving the Island of Lost Boys. I can't wait to dig in! Thank you!

    I gave up on cards a few years ago, the printed ones that is. I still have a couple of boxes left from the days of every family gets one, but we keep them for "guilt cards" as in, quick, so and so sent a card, we gotta send one back! I need to reup with Jacquie Lawson. Love her e-cards, and you can schedule in advance. Never forget a birthday, much less a holiday!

    Yes, I vote for the week between Christmas and New Years as card week. Sounds like the perfect time to send your holiday cards AND your thank you notes. One stop shop. My fav.

  12. Oh, yes, including the thank you toes with threw years cards. Love that.
    What shall we call it?

  13. post office! HUGE line. Not the most brilliant move on my part. But..all fine. And the kids will get their gifts in time, so that's worth it.

    Jacquie Lawson cards--know why they need? A fast forward. I wold watch them if they were faster. Sigh. Is that--out of the spirit of the season?

  14. Hank, the holiday letter thing could be the seed of a Jungle red game show????

  15. I Still like to get and send real cards but my list is under 35 cards. It's still a fun part of christmas and holidays. RaeAnne

  16. Oh, Lucy, that's a great possibility…we do need to plan.. Hmm..

    RaeAnne, you are so right.. 35 is doable. Definitely. If we have a little more time.

    How do you all feel about GLITTER on cards? :-)

  17. Did you know that you can send Jacqui Lawson notes, rather than cards? There are lots of pretty options. No music, no animation, except the card opening.

    The e-cards we send are Postagram, and they're really fun. Your choose your envelope, and the lining, and there are all sorts of card options although we always choose the plain because we've done our own design. You can also send individual notes with the cards.

    I suppose the bad thing is that they are ephemeral. But who saves printed Christmas cards, anyway? (Raising hand guiltily...)

  18. Oh, I save them. It is--well, here's a cool thing.

    I use them in the next year to make the to-from cards that I attach to gifts. Take a holiday card, and cut off the front. Then, randomly or not, cut it into properly-sized shapes. Sometimes its gorgeous to do it randomly, and see what you get. Or you can cut out a specific piece. They are beautiful--try it! And it lets me look at the cards again.

    I save the envelopes, too, for the addresses. (I know, make a list. But it's another step. I know, it's a step you only have to do once. But somehow, it is beyond me.)

  19. Isn't it funny how we all love to receive cards and mail but each year it gets harder and harder to send them out ourselves?

    I try to write to people throughout the year, hitting everyone on my card list at least once. There is nothing like receiving a heartfelt letter from someone, with reminiscence and current thoughts. I send Holiday cards out too, to clients and family and friends, but with brief notes only.

    Personally, I hate receiving Jacqui Lawson card emails. I never like the music and it's disappointing that it has taken virtually (!) no effort on the part of the sender. I know the thought counts, but I'd rather have a brief email. It seems more personal.

    But that's just me. Happy Holidays to everyone!

  20. My first year out of college, I sent out cards. The next year, I fully intended to send out cards, but it never happened. And I haven't sent them out since. When you are single, there is no division of labor, and there are only so many hours in the day to get things done.

    It also means I get few cards. I love the ones I do get, but I know if I sent out cards I'd get more of them.

  21. Santa Ann in Rochester, where we are having April in DecemberDecember 21, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Haven't sent snail mail cards in years except to grandchildren and children with an enclosed check. Thank all the powers that be for Jacquie Lawson! Her cards are just the best. I do search for the ones with real music. Last year she had several with carols sung by the Salisbury Cathedral choristers, whom I had the privilege to hear many years ago when we were marooned for a week in Salisbury. I'd do it again in a NY minute BTW. For family and friends that are close by, I deliver home made goodies, fudge and cookies and date bread et al. But this year I limited it to date bread, Julie's mother's recipe, and to her brothers and sisters and families only. We are going to Florida to be with my daughter and her kids. There we will make the cookies, sausage rolls and little mince pies. Oh wait, this was supposed to be about cards, right? Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.

    And to all a goodnight xox

  22. Nope, I haven't sent out cards yet. Some years I do, some years I don't. This has been an extremely busy/stressful season so far, so I'm not sure if I'll get any cards out this year. Often I do send them out around Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas, so I fully support you, Hank!

  23. I buy my cards the day after Christmas or between Christmas and New Year's Day and save them for the next year. Then I start writing them at the end of November or beginning of December. We keep in touch with many relaives this way. I also send Jacqui Lawson cards and Advent calendars. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We do get many cards after Christmas.


  24. I have been known to send Happy New Year's cards because trying to get Christmas cards out before Christmas was sometimes too difficult.

    Nowadays I make a wall calendar for each of my immediate family members using photographs I've taken throughout the previous year. That way they can enjoy 12 months of best wishes instead of just one week or one season. The calendar also doubles a their Christmas gift.

  25. I do send cards. I love to send them, especially if you are not going to see the person. But I agree with Hank, I could extend it out until mid-January.

  26. I've sent out two cards so far this year. That's two more than I sent out last year.
    I decided my husband can send cards to his friends and relations if he wishes. I'm not doing it anymore! I always write a note so that may be why my card sending has declined. I hate getting cards with no notes from the senders. Why bother to send a card if you're not going to say anything? I haven't gotten any Xmas e-cards so far, but I wouldn't mind them. I don't think there's a thing wrong with sending cards after Christmas. After all, the Christmas season extends into January.

  27. I actually got my cards out on the 16th this year, which nicely beats my usual panic dates. I know that the 16th is early by any means, but it probably ensures the cards will get there by Christmas. Well, I have a few to send out today, but that's because I was waiting on an address update from my husband on one of his friends and I just did find the card I wanted for my older granddaughter. Of course, I could have done much better. I bought my cards after Christmas last year, thinking that it would be so easy to do them last winter and have them waiting to mail this season. Hah! That didn't happen. Oh, and I use Lang cards, as I love the holiday scenes they have and the good heavy paper quality. Also, I have a friend I've known since I was fourteen, and we both send the Lang cards with a secret little squiggle under the Lang name on the back of the cards.

    It does seem such a chore to get the cards out, especially the ones I write notes in, but I love the tradition of Christmas cards, printed and snail-mail, and the ones I receive are so lovely. The ones with the family or children's pictures are nice to keep up with the growing up of my family's families. Alas, I have noticed a decline in cards over the past five years, but I suppose I will hold out for some time to come.

    Hank, glitter? Not a fan. My daughter really abhors it, and requested that there be no glitter cards for occasions. Of course, I had to get a really glittery one then. Hahaha! I do respect her wishes now though. Actually, there are some that have only a little glitter, not too bad, but the ones that went through the glitter factory over and over, well, yikes. And, Hank, I love your idea of the off-Broadway show. Rhys, three books out in one year and Christmas cards sent early? You are indeed the Queen of organization and productivity.

  28. We love cards.
    My husband is the wordsmith of the family and enjoys writing an entertaining and brief yearly update. He must be doing it right because people write that they look forward to them.

    I'd rather get an ecard than a snail mail one with no personal message.

    There are the 12 days of Christmas, you know. Technically it is Advent up until the 25th. I figure any card that arrives by mid=January is right on time!

  29. Lifesart--that's a great idea. Just a--randomly dated thinking-of-you card. Wouldn't that be a fun thing? Love it.

    Mark, "Intending to send cards" is a constant state of being! But you do so much!

    Santa Ann :-) it is spring here, too! And caroling--another blog! Love that. xooxo (And hey, we can talk about whatever we want..)

  30. DebRo--I hear you, sister! And there's always next year. Love you!

    Rita, can you come to my ouse? And do that for me? Truly, really? :-) You are SO organized!

    KT, the kids send us a calendar every year--and I know it's a lot of work! But you are right, they are treasured!

  31. Dee, you're on. We're doing it.

    Rita, again--I am not trying to sound cockney! I meant house. xxoo

    PAtD, that is a quandary. I agree, it is better to say something. And I walkways do..but in the throes of card-doing, it is so tempting not to.

  32. Kathy, you are too funny--the glitter thing is a real pain. I mean--glitter is IMPOSSIBLE to clean up. It's like--pre-glued.

    And I adore the family photos. SO wonderful. Did you see the one the politician from somewhere sent--oh, 'Ill try to find it .Where one kid is pouting? It's hilarious.

  33. Libby, yay. You are so right..Advent is the perfect answer. Or maybe--if it's before Valentines day, it counts?

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  35. I love getting family photo cards and actually do save them for years. But send them? I also live in the land of good intentions, even to the extent of taking a family photo on Christmas Eve and turning it into a New Years card...Not happening! One year I composed an ironic Christmas letter, celebrating son's early release from jail and 40 year old daughter learning to roller skate, photos included. I bragged about a dinner party I hosted where only two guests hid food under their napkins (cooking is not my strong suit.) I had a lot of fun with it...never sent it. Are we sending a pattern here? Whatever you celebrate, do have a joyous holiday!

  36. I found the pouting kid. I will put him up later this week!

    WENDY! You didn't send it? Do you still have it? Hilarious. There's always next year..xoo

  37. In my world Christmas is not over until Epiphany. Therefore, any card, package, Christmas treat or other goodie associated with the Christmas season is definitely on time if it arrives by January 6th. And I do love Jacque Lawson e-cards and her annual advent calendar is such a treat.

  38. Cards: paper. Usually Charlie Brown/Peanuts theme, but angels & Santas, too. This year I rootled the card stash & brought out all the leftovers; who said they have to match? Photos are for Facebook; just cards, here. Because I know how good it feels to get a card in the U.S.Mail. Really good. And I look at the list of "beloveds" at church, & others on the prayer list, & I know they'll appreciate a good ol' Christmas card. The address "book" is full of old contacts; they need a card. And I like to receive cards & have to find a place to display them. Some traditions are worth it. Y'all have a good holiday! I'll be rootling the fabric stash next.

  39. We enjoy getting cards--I mean, mail that isn't a bill or a catalog? Yes!--as some folks said, it's the only time we hear from some old connections. Not everyone is on Facebook (that's a mention, right?) I dropped a bunch of cards off at the PO today and was *very* glad that I didn't have to stand in the line!

    It's such fun seeing responses from all these folks to such a wild array of topics... thanks for hosting this lovely conversation parlor!

  40. Not so organized,my tree is bare . But I have cookies and I' ve read two Christmas mysteries.

  41. Mary Pat--that's great. Whew.

    Sandy--you are SO right! Who says they have to match? Everyone only gets one, and people don't compare. I always have leftovers because when I find a good card, I buy lots. (Then I sometimes lose them….by putting them away. Somewhere..)

    Oh, my gosh, Jim. The line! Our postal workers were all upset because a colleague had called in sick. They were FUMING!

    Rita, reading Christmas mysteries counts! xooo

  42. I say everyone should have until the end of January to get cards out. I think people are just so busy with family and no one should feel guilty about not sending cards right away or not at all. I make my cards and try to start them early, but it doesn't always happen. No matter when or handmade or not, lets all just keep snail mail going! I do not mind an e-card at all. If all I have is an email, like for my favorite authors, I will email or tweet a quick holiday missive.

    Cheers to you Hank, Hallie and ALL the Junglereds out there!
    Jackie J.

  43. Thank you, Jackie J! I know--our local post office was in danger of closing--that would have been terrible!

  44. I'm truly starting to think of mine as New Year cards. Still working on a couple of boxes of Christmas cards from a few years ago but have resolved to make these good for everyone, since we all need a "Happy New Year!"

    Yours, dear Hank, is ready to go as soon as I find your address. I have it here, somewhere. In fact I have a list of Reds and Reds commenters from one year when a bunch of you were so brave and we did that!

    Happy New Year!

    Love you.

  45. It's all Hank's fault...I couldn't read any more comments after her "thank you toes with threw years cards"...too many laughter produced tears blurring my vision! Thank you, Hank, for this joy!

  46. Elisabeth--: I thought:: what? Then I went back and looked.

    Oh. You are so right. Pitiful.

    Somehow, my computer changes words. It really does. It decides what words I meant to type, and then changes them to that. It is always wrong. It is OUT of control.

    SO fine. I will turn off…something. I just don't know what.

  47. I just read that post again. Unbelievable. Still laughing.

  48. Hank! What I Saw, what I heard just now-post office said holiday cards are DOWN 1.5 Billion! Quick, Reds, send those cards! JJ