In publication since 1991, Wrangler News is distributed free every other Saturday to more than 18,000 homes in the Kyrene Corridor area of South Tempe and West Chandler, and is supported by local and regional advertisers.

  Search past and present issues of the Wrangler
    Site search Web search                       
   powered by
Contact Us Links Media Kit Make a Payment Previous Issues

Back Home Forward

Mailing out cards this holiday season?

By: Doug Snover

Dec. 16, 2006

Once upon a time, not too long ago nor too far away, in the first days after Thanksgiving, people of good cheer would sit down with a stack of greeting cards, a pad of paper, some family portraits, perhaps, and a roll of stamps to participate in that revered holiday tradition known as Writing Christmas Cards.

You could count on the first holiday card, often from a favored aunt, arriving in your mailbox soon after Dec. 1.

By the time Christmas Day arrived, you might have received enough shiny, colorful cards from far-flung family and friends to string over a doorway as a holiday decoration.

These days, it seems, the Christmas card tradition is fading. Or at least evolving.

Many of us are paring our holiday card lists to the minimum, checking off the names of families who haven’t sent us a card in recent years, sending e-mails instead of cards, or making calls from our cell phones instead of risking writer’s cramp.

How many cards are in your mailbox this season?

John Burger, a Tempe attorney, is one of those who keep the Christmas card tradition alive.

“I send about 50 or 60 out each year, but my wife, Susan, claims it’s an anachronism -- she doesn’t do it,” Burger revealed. He said he receives about the same number that he sends.

“I think it’s easier than ever (to send Christmas cards) with word processors and automated label machines,” Burger noted.

Irene Trujillo, Burger’s legal assistant, said her Christmas card habits have changed. Instead of bulk-mailing boxed cards, Trujillo picks more personalized cards for her family.

“We used to send Christmas cards to everyone, just everyone,” she said. “But I really think that it just faded over the years. It was a given that right after Thanksgiving I would sit and write for hours. But it’s kind of fading. I’m not receiving as many as I used to.”

Time was, Christmas cards kept people in touch – at least once a year.

“We’re busier these days,” Trujillo said. “And we didn’t used to have the capability of e-mailing people throughout the year. I used to send out about 50 cards. This year, it will be maybe a handful, 10 to 15, 20 at the maximum.”

But she’s sending more personal cards these days, Trujillo noted. I buy a special card and then write special notes in them.”

Trujillo isn’t the only one choosing more personal cards, according to Janet Rosenkrantz, card buyer for Changing Hands Bookstore. Sales of individual cards, as opposed to boxed cards, are booming, she said.

“I’m amazed at how many individual cards we are selling. They are a little bit more expensive, but some are museum quality.”

And some are pretty expensive, too. Like birthday cards, individual cards can cost “from about $1.95 each to as much as $6 for a handmade card with sequins and beads and little charms and things,” Rosenkrantz said.

At the gift shop at the Abbey Gardens tea parlor and gift shop, owner Hallie Adams has seen customers purchasing many boxes of holiday cards this season – more so than individual Christmas cards.

“Our card sales have been pretty brisk, and people seem to be choosing cards that are on the lighter side this year – lots of Santa Claus cards, for instance,” Adams said. “Myself, I like to send Christmas cards that have more of a religious theme. I send out about 25 to 30 cards.”

Christmas cards, of course, are meant to be received by Christmas, which is barely a week away for those running late. That doesn’t always happen, however.

Jenae Naumann is an attorney for the city of Tempe, someone balancing a career and family like many Kyrene Corridor residents. She loves sending and receiving Christmas cards, and treasures those with personalized notes inside.

Naumann started laughing when asked if her Christmas card habits have changed over the years.

“I have always sent Christmas cards because I felt that was a thing you do,” she said.

You trek the family to the portrait studio for the holiday photo. You spend the weekend after Thanksgiving composing a holiday newsletter. And get everything mailed by Dec. 15 to be assured the cards and notes and family portraits will arrive at their destinations by Christmas Day.

It doesn’t always work out that way, Naumann said.

Dec. 15 may be her target mailing date, “but more often than not; it’s after that,” she admitted. “Eventually, I send out the Christmas letter and photos. My record is April!”

Does anyone still send Christmas cards? Most definitely.

The Hallmark people estimate that Christmas card sending has been relatively stable over the last five years with 1.9 to 2 billion Christmas cards being sent every year, according to spokeswoman Liz Hawks.

Surprisingly, e-cards have not impacted paper card sending at Christmas. According to Hawks, e-cards are a more casual communication method, which isn’t how people communicate during the holidays. At Christmas people look forward to receiving the cards in the mail, and many consider Christmas cards keepsakes to view years later, something that isn’t possible with an e-card.

According to Hallmark:

·         Christmas is the largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with approximately 2 billion cards sent to friends and loved ones every year.

·         Nearly three-fourths of consumers who send holiday cards do so because they know how good it feels to receive a holiday greeting.

·         Among the various reasons for sending Christmas cards, 69 percent do so because it helps them stay connected with their family and friends.

Not everyone is enamored of the holiday card tradition, however. Environmental groups annually trash the tradition of sending billions of paper cards.

The Center for a New American Dream, for example, claims a 2005 poll found that 78 percent of Americans wish the holidays were less materialistic; a like number (79 percent) do not believe it is necessary to spend a lot of money in order to have a fulfilling and enjoyable holiday.

The center ( works to conserve natural resources, counter the commercialization of our culture, and promote positive changes in the way goods are produced and consumed.

Another environmental group, Conscious Choice, calculates that if everyone sent one less card each year, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. Conscious Choice recommends sending e-cards instead.

Kerry Fetherston, a Kyrene Corridor resident and professional event planner, is bucking the trend of writing fewer Christmas cards. Fetherston says her growing family means more cards each year.

“Absolutely. I probably send between 75 and 80 cards,” Fetherston reported. Ten years ago, she sent about 30-40 holiday cards. This year’s card is a collage of family photos.

“My family is growing. I am from a family of six girls,” Fetherston said. Each year, there are new family members to add to the Christmas card list. “My husband and I both have big families and we’ve both moved around over the years so we have lots of friends.”

Fetherston said this year has been slow at her family’s mailbox. “So far this year, I haven’t gotten many. I don’t know if everybody is running late,” she said.

Which, she theorized, could lead to a new, more modern holiday card tradition – the New Year’s card. That would be especially convenient for people who want to send out a family portrait but can’t get the family together before the holidays, she noted.

Finally, consider Linda Berg, a busy Realtor and Christmas card traditionalist.

“Absolutely. I send a Christmas card and I send a Christmas letter, an update of what’s happening. I send out about 100 cards and I personally make all of the cards. I start in July and I normally have them done by September,” Berg said.

Typically, she makes her holiday cards out of colored paper, embellished, embossed and decorated with glitter, she said. “I have hand-drawn them, too.”

This year, however, Berg celebrated the addition of a new grandchild by sending out a holiday photo of her and her husband with their two “grandbabies.”

Berg may be a torchbearer for a declining tradition.

“I receive less and less each year,” she acknowledged. “But I still send them whether I receive them or not.”


web site hit counter