Simplify Season's Greetings: Using Computers To Send Christmas Cards

As an online old-timer, I can attest to this fact: few subjects stir as much controversy as computers and Christmas cards. The questions come year after year.

Should we use the computer to address the cards? Write a Christmas letter on inkjet letterhead?

What about pre-printed signatures? Is it okay to use e-mail to send holiday greetings ... or text holiday emoji?

Should We Use Tech To Send Holiday Greetings?

This issue has more partisans than the Congress. On one hand (and I say that advisedly) stand the Purists. Charging that "these computers are taking over everything!" folks from this viewpoint insist that only hand-signed, hand-addressed cards meet the standard.

At the other extreme lie the Technology Elite. Actual Christmas cards via snail mail? How provincial! This group sends custom memoji or shares greetings via social media. What? Some stodgy relatives might not possess the latest and greatest mobile devices to receive these offerings? Get with the century, people!

When it comes to the tradition-versus-technology debate, most of us, it's safe to say, fall somewhere in the middle. We like to receive cards. We like to send them, but we get bogged down writing 150 "personal" greetings and hand-addressing the envelopes. Most of us believe that some personal touch, say, a signature, is required. We're also somewhat apt to misplace the address book and last year's Christmas card list.

[As to the issue of Christmas letters, I refuse to enter the fray. Either you like them, or you don't. Either you send them, or you don't. I don't want to hear a peep out of anyone on this debate! Take it outside!]

Where Do You Fall On Cyber-Greetings?

It's helpful to see the question as a continuum. There are several intermediate steps between "everything by hand" and "total cyber" greeting strategies, and one may be right for you:

  • traditional cards, signed by hand and addressed by hand
  • traditional cards, signed by hand and addressed by computer
  • Christmas letter computer-printed on special holiday paper, signed by hand and addressed by computer
  • computer cards containing a printed, personalized greeting, signed by hand and addressed by computer
  • 100% virtual card sent via the Internet

Which one is right for you? Only you can decide. There are two strategies, however, that are key to an organized holiday season: a computerized address list, and proper mail addressing.

Harness computer power: the basics

First, whatever level of holiday greeting meets your comfort zone, put your address list in a computer database. It's the single biggest time-saving tip when it comes to holiday cards and letters.

(Yes, our Printables library does include a traditional Christmas card list form for completeness, but I hope you won't use it!)

Even if you choose to address cards by hand, you'll benefit from the speed and convenience of a computer database or contacts manager.

Changes of address are simple to record. Hard-copy address lists are easy to print. Integration with smartphone and mobile devices makes it easy to keep contacts up-to-date.

Computer-printed addresses save a tremendous amount of time and energy, two scarce resources during the holiday season. You'll have much more time to write a truly personal note if you're not addressing envelopes by hand.

Heed hints from the Post Office

Second, when the Post Office speaks, listen and learn! A greeting delayed, so to speak, is a greeting denied. Addressing envelopes for today's automated mail delivery system will get your greeting cards and Christmas letters on their way in good time.

Forget everything your fourth-grade teacher told you about flowing capitals and indented addresses. Here is how the Post Office would like to see your cards addressed:

P O BOX 1234
ANYTOWN WA 98765-4321

The rules are: (1) use block capital letters, (2) do not use periods or commas, (3) use proper postal abbreviations and (4) use the nine-digit zip code, if you know it.

Missing Zip codes? The Internet makes it easy. Find the USPS Zip Code Locator here. Get a list of state and addressing abbreviations here.

Today's software can often go a step further and add a postal bar code to the envelope or label, but I hesitate to raise the ire of the Purists to quite that extent. Let's just say if you're on the Geek Cool side of the fence, it's a nifty touch, and the Postmaster will thank you.

Think it over. How can you use the power of your computer to speed and organize this task? Whatever you choose to do, now is the time to begin! Build your list, buy your supplies and pick up your stamps this week . . . for an organized Christmas!