Six Alternatives to the Same Old Holiday Cards

What to do? Paper Christmas cards seem eco-unfriendly. Ecards just seem unfriendly. Thoughts/alternatives?

What to do? Paper Christmas cards seem eco-unfriendly. Ecards just seem unfriendly. Thoughts/alternatives?

Looking for the best way to connect during the holidays? Me too.

At one time, I mailed cards each December as part of maintaining important relationships personal and professional. But I’d fallen out of the habit.

Wanting to restart or create a new habit in line with my values, I turned to the collective wisdom of Twitter (and Facebook) to ask “What to do? Paper Christmas cards seem eco-unfriendly. Ecards just seem unfriendly. Thoughts/alternatives?”

I was surprised by the instant response with so many wonderful ideas to share! Read on for the best so far, and add your ideas to the comments.

Holiday cards are a lot of work
As a CEO of a software and book publishing company in the Nineties, much of our business and promotion was online. Still, holiday greetings meant snail mail, and were a major project:

  • Custom designed and printed cards ordered months in advance.
  • Database work to update lists and print envelopes.
  • A quick handwritten note and signature on each one.
  • Postage for each of the countries we did business in. (We’d literally shipped software and books to every continent including Antarctica, and won the occasional argument with the local postmaster on customs declarations and other postal regulations.)

Worth the effort?

I loved sending Mele Kalikimaka cards the year I lived in Hawaii. These from Etsy look nice.

I loved sending Mele Kalikimaka cards the year I lived in Hawaii. These from Etsy look nice.

While it was expensive in time and money, it was well worth it. Relationships matter in business as much as elsewhere, and staying in touch, letting someone know you’re thinking of them, just brightens people’s days. Of course, we shouldn’t just do that during the holidays, but having one more excuse each year is great.

Plus, it was a point of pride that we sent something beautiful. An opportunity to further our brand and message as well as to maintain important relationships.  I sent company cards also to friends and family, adding personal letters so they would know what was happening with me as well as my company.

Wasteful?
But perhaps it was also wasteful. As much as we’d pioneered minimizing our software packaging and printing our books with non-toxic inks on recycled papers, we splurged on the fancy cards (and delivering them around the world).

Stopped sending them… and lost contact
For that and other reasons, in the years since, I’d stopped sending cards altogether, and never found a replacement besides the holiday calls made to my closest contacts. I’ve felt the resulting loss of connection. I want it back.

Answers

So, what came back from my query?  As I’d expect from Twitter (and Facebook, since my Twitter automatically updates my Status there, too), I quickly got several humorous replies (themselves a way to maintain contact and relationship) as well as serious ideas and hints. Thanks for all the responses!

The rest of this post is the Best Twitter and Facebook responses so far (with my thoughts on each).

I’ve mixed a couple Facebook responses in with the Twitter replies. Can you add your own ideas in the comments on this blog post?

Personalized Video Email

Personalized Video Email

Great answer. In fact, I’d just done the same thing with a video birthday greeting to a friend.  I’d started to send a note, realized Facebook would be an easy way to do it, then saw the video option as well as text. I think it took less time for me to use my laptop’s built in camera than what it would have taken to compose a decent email.

David Spark has a couple of great posts with more details and instructions on doing this. I highly recommend: Sending personal holiday cards this year and  I just sent 325 personal video holiday greetings-How I did it.

Facebook Apps Overdone?

Facebook Apps Overdone?

Eran makes a good point. “This calls for a viral facebook app! I see Elves instead of zombies and Santa’s little armies at war over who’s more annoying!” It can be all to easy to use e-cards and newer social media in ways that are more likely to annoy your friends than to make them feel Holiday joy.  At the same time, different strokes for different folks. You might consider reaching out in different ways to different parts of your address book according to what you know about their preferences. (Thanks for permission to make your protected update public.)

I already tried the telepathic approach

I already tried the telepathic approach

Thanks, Timmmii, for one of the funnier responses. “Send your holiday greetings telepathically. saves money, time and commitment.

Besides reaching out by telephone to my closest contacts during the holiday, I do make an effort to try to stay in touch throughout the year.  If I did a good enough job of that all the time, I might just ignore the holiday hype and go back to the telepathic approach.

Cupcakes and Art Cards

Cupcakes and Art Cards

Given how cupcakes have become the latest craze and internet meme, that’s not a bad idea. Bake a little love and give a consumable card.

Or, at the opposite end of the spectrum, give a card they’d want to keep forever, one that makes great art and preferably suits their taste. While sending it as a postcard risks damage, it saves the waste of an envelope.

Cards can be Eco-Friendly

Cards can be Eco-Friendly

Of course, I could go back to cards, but make an effort to minimize their impact, including reducing and recycling. As Leslie says, “make cards on waste paper, paper bags, etc.”

As Alex points out, delivering by hand is an alternative to save on delivery expense and waste, especially since we might presume that a good visit is a great addition to a card anyway. Leslie’s link to http://www.directcreative.com/postal-experiments.html is pretty amusing, too!

(Thanks to Leslie and Alex for permission to include your Facebook comments here.)

E-cards great if you put some thought into customizing image and message

E-cards great if you put some thought into customizing image and message

Technopatra’s tweet made me realize that ecards really can be one of the best options.

Like any other method of communication, when you’re on the receiving end of an indiscriminate broadcast which isn’t well thought out, it can feel like being spammed more than being loved.

When thought is put into it, though, especially if they include something really personal from the sender and customized to each recipient, this is much like the video option (and, of course, you could combine both). I’ve also seen mobile holiday cards (sent as an SMS link) that make sense for those in that business.

With just a little thought and for very little effort and cost, you can make and impact and let the people in your life feel touched during the holidays.

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays to you!

12 thoughts on “Six Alternatives to the Same Old Holiday Cards

  1. Great post!

    How about some of the new products like Moo http://www.moo.com/? They have some neat designed cards or you could make holiday mini moos!

    Some of my favorite presents have been edible – things like a bag of chocolate milk mix or some nice teas or chocolates.

  2. Great post!

    How about some of the new products like Moo http://www.moo.com/? They have some neat designed cards or you could make holiday mini moos!

    Some of my favorite presents have been edible – things like a bag of chocolate milk mix or some nice teas or chocolates.

  3. Roxane: Thanks for the comment, I didn’t even know Moo made holiday cards! I love their highly unique business cards and have used them for a couple of years. Every time I’m at an event, I still get comments about how nifty the cards are, or that someone had never seen one before.

    Richard is co-founder and Chief Creative Officer over at GroupCard, a funded startup. It’s a paid online service that looks interesting as a way to build and print a card from a group. I’d love to hear more about how he thinks GroupCard fits in with this post, ’cause without more information I was tempted to delete the comment as spam, and I’m still not sure what typical use cases would be for the holidays! 🙂

  4. Roxane: Thanks for the comment, I didn’t even know Moo made holiday cards! I love their highly unique business cards and have used them for a couple of years. Every time I’m at an event, I still get comments about how nifty the cards are, or that someone had never seen one before.

    Richard is co-founder and Chief Creative Officer over at GroupCard, a funded startup. It’s a paid online service that looks interesting as a way to build and print a card from a group. I’d love to hear more about how he thinks GroupCard fits in with this post, ’cause without more information I was tempted to delete the comment as spam, and I’m still not sure what typical use cases would be for the holidays! 🙂

  5. Though it seems much less personal than quickly recording your own card (and David Spark can’t say enough about how amazing the response is when sending personal video greetings), Gina Trapani over at Lifehacker writes in Turn a YouTube Clip into a Holiday Greeting Card:

    “YouTube revives its video-clip-to-holiday-e-card service today. Pick any video—or record your own—and add a background and message and email it to 25 of your close friends at this YouTube page

    Here’s what putting together a video e-card with kittens running up a treadmill looks like….”

  6. Though it seems much less personal than quickly recording your own card (and David Spark can’t say enough about how amazing the response is when sending personal video greetings), Gina Trapani over at Lifehacker writes in Turn a YouTube Clip into a Holiday Greeting Card:

    “YouTube revives its video-clip-to-holiday-e-card service today. Pick any video—or record your own—and add a background and message and email it to 25 of your close friends at this YouTube page

    Here’s what putting together a video e-card with kittens running up a treadmill looks like….”

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