Sending Christmas Cards and Making a Christmas Binder

This post is a continuation of Organized Women Do THIS for Christmas! This is Part 3.

Problem #7) Sending out Christmas Cards is Stressful

Do you like receiving cards from distant family and old friends who have moved away? Do you display the cards? Then you are probably in the camp of people who have no trouble sending out cards – because you value the connection that Christmas card greetings give. Yes, you can e-mail, but Christmas cards are special.

Could you not care less if you receive any cards? Do you not take the time to display the cards you receive? Do you toss the cards and pictures practically upon receipt? Then you probably don’t send any cards out.

This post is for the women in the middle. You like receiving cards, but getting them out is so stressful for you. Choosing the card, the picture of the children, gathering addresses, getting stamps, writing a photocopied letter or a personalized note. Oftentimes you will start…buy the cards, even get the photos, but fail to address and send. Let’s deal with that.

First, you must know WHY you want to send and receive cards. Is it primarily to show off your cute kid? To check in with people you rarely see? To show off your vacation photos? To receive updates from others? Or to send a Christian greeting letting the recipient know, “You are on my mind; I’m thinking of you,” (along with a picture of your cute kids, of course).

Let’s simplify and take this step by step.

If I see people on my Christmas list regularly, why am I sending them a Christmas card? Because:

  • I am saying, “Rejoice!  Our savior was born, died and is risen, and we are celebrating His wonderful gift to us!” 
  • I am saying that I’m thinking about them.
  • They would value a card and note from me, and
  • They would appreciate a photo of my child.
But when I discovered I had friends who couldn’t care less about cards and threw away the photos, you better believe I didn’t keep sending to them!
If you aren’t a Christian, there is no reason to even send Christmas cards. The main purpose for Christmas cards is to rejoice in the good news of our Savior’s birth. Photos and updates of our children are secondary. Of course, Satan has done a great job of helping to eliminate Christ from Christmas and our greetings. Remember that we are not in a Christmas card competition!

By the way, the Merry in Merry Christmas doesn’t mean happy or mirthful. Merry is an old Anglo-Saxon word that means “Mighty.” Think Merry Olde England or Robin Hood and his merry men. Merry means Great, Strong, Mighty and Gallant.

1. TODAY you need to go through your Christmas card list.

2. DECIDE WHY you are sending cards – what is your purpose – and to whom. Type up your list in Word and update any addresses. Save it as “Christmas Cards 2019” so you can find it easily next year to update it to 2020. Always create a new document, in case you decide to add back someone you had deleted from a previous year; you can quickly find their address that way.

Perhaps you should only send cards to people you don’t get to see in person very often – include a photo if you want, so they can see how big the children have grown – but instead of “Happy Holidays” write a personal message in the card.  (Merry Christmas, thinking of you, we are taking our son to the snow for the first time, we saw so and so and had a good visit, little Ann is enjoying American Heritage Girls, Billy got braces, I’m enjoying the cooler weather and grandma’s pumpkin bread recipe, when I use the cut crystal bowl it reminds me of past family events and how grandpa used to cut roses for grandma’s table, hope to see you soon, hope you have a lovely Christmas with your family, etc.)  It doesn’t have to be a LETTER (unless you want), just a few lines to personalize it.

We especially make sure we send cards to elderly people that we used to attend church with who have moved away or are house-bound.  Many times they can’t send a card back, but appreciate ours and that we are thinking of them.

3. PRINT your list on paper for reference.  Keep it in your Christmas binder to cross off names as you send cards.  The copy is also good for when you wake up at 2:00 am and say, “Did I send a card to Aunt Mary?”  Or when you receive a card and you want to add the person to your list for this and future years.

4. BUY labels. The most used is Avery 8160 or 5160. Keep the labels with your Christmas Binder. No need to buy special labels; you want plain white ones so that you can use them year-round if needed.

5. PRINT the address labels. Use a red or green bold font, address centered on each label, instead of plain black. These vibrant colors look nice on the white label, especially when your envelopes are red, green, or white.

AT THE SAME TIME – Since there are 30 labels per page, use the labels that are left on the page for your Thank You cards. Type “Thank You Labels” on the first white label so that you know at a glance where the break happens. You can also do a whole page of labels for birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mother and Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Easter, or any card you may send throughout the year, and for thank you’s for birthday presents for everyone in your family, as well as thank you’s for Christmas presents. Printing all these labels once a year and putting them with your other cards will help you mail these timely, as well.

6. ORDER your cards or go to your local Christian bookstore for them. I prefer to use Christ-centered cards instead of photo cards; they help us celebrate the true reason for Christmas.  Every 4 or 5 years I don’t buy cards – I just use up all the “leftovers” from prior years and all the cute freebies from charities that say “Merry Christmas.” This helps me declutter and save money. That is what I’m doing this year. Also remember to pick up a package of Thank You cards at the same time, or from the dollar store.

7. DECIDE if you will include a photo.  Choose a picture or take a picture.  Sometimes I will add a photo of our son (using a deal from Walgreens), or put in a small photo sticker that I created and printed on Avery 8293 circle labels.

Does scheduling a photographer for that perfect family annual beach photo stress you out? If taking, choosing, or ordering photos contributes to your feeling of Christmas angst – then don’t do it!!!
I watched a woman lose it on the beach one year trying to get that perfect family photo – what was the point? Did the yelling and exasperation create a good memory? You are not receiving any “perfect family” awards! You can take family photos any time of the year and save it for next year’s cards if you must. You don’t need to do this in an already crowded November or December. Will your world come crashing down if you skip the annual photo this year? Christmas cards aren’t supposed to be about you! Change your focus.

8. BUY Christmas stamps if you can get to the post office without it stressing you out. If you can’t – so what? Do you think people are tsking, “she can’t even buy the proper stamps”? No – no one cares – Christmas stamps are just cuter and dress up the envelope a bit more, that’s all. Supposedly, the least busy days are Thursdays, and the least busy times are 10:30 to 11:15 and 2:00-3:00, but of course you can’t count on that. Just make sure you go in NOVEMBER. Avoid December. Go back after Christmas to buy stamps for next year (postage rates usually go up the third Sunday in January). Buying ahead means you can start your Christmas cards at any time next year without the hassle of the post office before Christmas.

Ask your neighbors if they know of a lesser used post office location. For years I went to our main post office. Dreading it, one day I thought of checking to see if there was another location. Turns out there is a darling little post office right smack in the middle of the next neighborhood! It is never crowded (except during December), but it also is not open on Saturdays. This gem has saved me so much time, I know the workers by name, and they are always helpful and cheerful.  Another place to buy stamps (regular, not Christmas) is from many grocery stores. Just put a post-it note “Buy Stamps!” on your cash envelope or your credit card.

1913 Vintage card.

9. PUT everything in a Christmas tote bag that has a lay-flat bottom:
  • Your Christmas Binder
  • Printed Christmas card list
  • Printed labels
  • Return labels
  • Cards
  • Stamps
  • Favorite red and green pens
  • Fun Christmas stickers
When we were first married I sent Christmas cards to everyone we had invited to our wedding, about 175 addresses. Then, when I came home and finances were tight, I had to pare down the list to 100.

If you need to pare down your list because cards, photos, and postage is so expensive, you can print out everything – your list and your labels – but then send out cards only to the people you receive from (plus elderly people who can no longer send out cards). This will help you determine who values receiving cards.

I do the above about every 5 years. In 2018 I sent out 50 stamped cards, and 6 unstamped to neighbors. This year or next I will probably be cutting it down to 40 cards, because stamp prices are so high.

If your children want to receive cards from their friends, then they need to help with the sending of cards, or even the making of special cards.  This can be done while you are cooking or baking and listening to Christmas Carols.

Young children especially love to stick on the labels, stamps, and fun stickers. Have them sign their names. Have them add a drawing if they’d like. This can be one of your Christmas projects. Have them do a bunch in 20 or 30 minutes. Have them lick the envelopes later.  Have them help.  

Dick, Jane and Sally
10. As soon as you have everything in your tote bag, gather your children, put on the Christmas music, and spend 20 minutes doing a Christmas card assembly line. One child affixes the stamp. One child affixes the return label. One child affixes a cute Christmas stamp in the bottom left corner. You sign your name and your husband’s, then the card goes back to the children to sign their names and add drawings if they wish. (Caution: Don’t sign Love on all the cards – some might be going to your husband’s coworkers!)


Then, as cards trickle in, it will be easy for you to add personalized messages, comment on their card or photo, and add their address label. Right after dinner, it will be easy to grab your tote, have a child find the address label, you add the note, and another child licks the envelope. You put it by the door to be mailed. Done.

If you don’t get a card until the 24th, then they won’t receive a card from you this year, but you can make sure they will be on your next year’s list.

Then, next year, you will be all set to quickly send out cards to everyone on your list the first day in December.  Your list will have already been pared down, so when you do your 20 minute assembly line sometime in November, someone will also affix all of the recipient address labels as well.
So this first year you are putting in a little more thought, but next year and in future years card writing will be a breeze – and something you can do during rehearsals.

Your tote bag will have everything you need in one place at home, and you can easily take it with you as well.

OPEN cards you receive as you sit down to dinner. This way all family members get to see the cards. Before you eat, pray with your children for the family that sent you the card.  During dinner, tell stories about that person or family – where you met them or how they are related, and funny incidents.  Make the senders come alive for your children. After dinner write your Christmas card to the sender.

This receiving and sending of cards is part of the sharing and feeling of Christmas that your children crave.

Next, HANG THEM UP!!!  Don’t just leave cards and photos in a pile!  What’s the point of that?  Decorate with them! You can hang with blue tack, tape, or on a string with mini clothes pins. 

After Christmas: Are the people on your Christmas card list on your prayer list as well?  If you don’t have a prayer list, this is the perfect time to start one! Do this with your children. After Christmas when you remove the cards, put them in a basket on your dining table.  Each evening take out a card and pray for that person again.  Then, have your child add that person or family to your prayer list. This can be in a journal, or just a list hung on your kitchen wall.

After you pray, put the photos and cards with notes either into a box to be put into a sleeve photo album or scrapbook later, or better yet, right into the album (your child can cut the card to fit). I know everyone won’t want to do this, but it does make a lovely album of the years, and you can see how quickly your friends’ children grow.

Now, after having said all that, the fact remains that sending cards can be expensive. Even if you use free cards, or your children make cards, the stamps still add up. If you are in debt, sending cards, and especially photo cards, is not a good use of your money. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BUY cards, photos and/or stamps WITH CASH then DON’T DO IT!!!  This is not a photo greeting card contest!!!

REMEMBER your FOCUS.  Remember WHY you are sending cards. If you cannot do it this year, then plan ahead for next year.  Buy Christ-centered cards at a discount in January.  Don’t just buy a snowman card because you got 18 for $1.  If your cards look like a vacation ad, why bother? Remember to focus on Christ’s birth! Buy stamps in January so that you will be ready to send your cards out next year on December 1st.

Sending fewer cards but PERSONALIZING them will make the recipient more appreciative of them. 

What Goes Into A Christmas Binder?
I mentioned this in Part 1, but here is a complete list of what I have in my binder:
  1. Christmas stamps
  2. Cute return address labels
  3. Christmas stickers
  4. Master list for Christmas cards
  5. Working copy of card list
  6. “We’ve moved” notices or e-mails for Christmas card labels
  7. Master list of people to buy for
  8. Working copy of current year list – to write down what I’ve bought and received, and a box to check off when thank you note has been sent
  9. Christmas stories to read to your children or yourself
  10. Ideas of events to attend in the future
  11. Ideas of traditions that focus on the real meaning of Christmas
  12. Gift ideas that celebrate Christ, such as ornaments from Heritage House or gifts such as Santa praying to Jesus, a Jesse tree, true-meaning of Christmas crafts, items that include scripture.
  13. List of stores with Christmas specials
  14. List of stores where you want to shop 
  15. Christian bookstore address and hours
  16. Christmas charitable giving information
  17. Christmas decorating ideas
  18. Favorite Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes and menus
  19. Christmas treasure hunt clues
  20. Other Christmas-related information that I don’t want to forget
  21. Catalog orders list with company, item, order date and received checkbox
  22. Page protector to put receipts in
  23. My Christmas Countdown List (see post From Christmas Chaos to Christmas Calm)

Christmas Peace

I keep my Christmas Binder in my Christmas Tote and as I receive address changes, charity Christmas cards, cute return labels, or Christmas stickers, I just drop them into my tote year-round.

A Mighty Christmas to You!


  1. It was always very stressful for me, to do Christmas cards.

    Soooo, one year, long ago, I stopped. Let people know that I was going to do this. And did it.

    And I have been so happy, since!!!!

    That's just my take on the issue. For those, who _love_ sending them, that's wonderful. But not for me.

    Gentle hugs,


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