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Don’t Make Me Throw Away Your Christmas Card

Greeting cards mailed out without personalized messages say, ‘Tell me how festive I am for doing this and by the way, isn’t my family adorable?’


We probably don’t know each other so I’m not expecting to receive a Christmas greeting card. But if you planned on sending one anyway, be sure, at minimum, to make it out to me and sign your name in handwriting. Otherwise it’s immediately going in the trash.

I’m not joking. Unsigned, non-personalized greeting cards are as meaningful to me as a mailed offer for new auto insurance. I don’t own a car and the paper waste is offensive.

I’m not one of those miserable liberals who hates Christmas and everything else that’s pleasant. Christmas is truly my favorite time of year. And each season, I go to Georgetown in Washington, D.C., to buy very cute, very expensive holiday greeting cards and decorative stickers that I send to family, friends, and colleagues.

And each one that I send is filled out with a handwritten note, custom to each individual recipient. It takes an evening or two for me to complete the two dozen or so cards, but it’s fun. I like thinking about each person who will receive a card, and what makes them special to me. For the person who receives the card, I want him to know he was on my mind and that no one else got this same message that he’s reading, because it’s specifically about him.

It’s not nearly as much trouble as corralling a family with young children for a professional seasonal photo. People who do that are built different. But if that’s your preference, be sure to send those cards out with handwritten notes, too. Seriously — what could be more self-serving than giving a bunch of people a photo of your own family?

Cute kids but did we get this in the mail just so that we could admire you or did you think about us at all?!

The same is true for gifts. Nothing says you couldn’t care less than a gift card to Amazon or a big box store. Gift cards in general are fairly lazy with the exception of specific restaurants or boutique and novelty outlets a person is known to love.

The best kind of gift is the kind that shows you were listening when someone professed a longing or affinity for a certain item, whether it’s kitchenware, clothing, or some other indulgence.

A gift card says, “Here, I felt obligated to give you something.” A real gift that reflects awareness of a person’s tastes, preferences, and enjoyments says, “I was paying attention, even when you were just thinking out loud.”

Likewise, greeting cards mailed without personalized messages say, “Tell me how festive I am for doing this and by the way, isn’t my family adorable?” Cards with tailored notes say, “You’re special and well worth my time, even during the busy holidays.”

Yes, it takes some effort. That’s what makes it meaningful. Personalize your greeting cards.

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