The Christmas card has been around for a couple of centuries now. What originally was used to update friends and relatives of the family’s adventures has slowly trickled to a somewhat bland:
To Dave and Kate
Love from auntie Maureen and Dexter (the dog)
Most of the time, these cards go to people you haven’t spoken to in years, and you keep up the tradition out of either fear of being judged or, well, tradition. If you aren’t ready to stop writing cards altogether, why not reduce the amount of people you send cards to? When was the last time you saw the people you sent cards to? What was the reason behind it? If they live overseas it’s understandable, if they are a former colleague you only wish happy birthday to because Facebook has reminded you, you might want to reconsider.
If you really cannot face life without sending out Christmas cards, consider going down the most ethical or sustainable route. The Sreepur Village charity in rural Bangladesh has over 160 destitute mums and 450 abandoned children in its care. As a grass root organisation, they respond to local need and run programmes to support vulnerable children and fostering. One of their most recent projects has been to support mothers and children affected by the collapse of Rana Plaza – the garments factory where 1,127 lives were lost, over 2,000 people were injured and 291 were never found.
Impulsed by a former employee of British Airways in 1989, people who live under the protection of the charity learn to make Christmas cards. What sets this charity above others is that 100% of the sales go back to the charity. You can read more about the Sreepur Village charity here.
Give to charity
Another option is to not buy Christmas cards and give the quantity you were going to spend to a charity of your choice. Some people may find it unnecessary to be notified that they will not be receiving a Christmas card that year, so there are websites such as Don’t Send Me A Card that allows you to donate money and send an e-card at the same time; thus people can see you have donated and don’t really need to acknowledge you not sending a card – diplomacy can be complicated.
With this website you can choose from a selection of over 40 charities, choose and e-card image, write your personal message and choose how much you would have spent on cards. You then only have to pay and add the email addresses of those you wish to send the e-card to.
Oxfam have come up with a rather neat idea: Oxfam Unwrapped. While it is true that it is more catered towards gift giving, there’s something really special about know you will be giving some bees, mosquito nets or safe water. If you are combining cards and present, you might want to notify friends and family and suggest the same to them for you and your family.
If you still want to send Christmas cards, however, we have one last suggestion: reuse your cards. Hear us out. Let’s take long-term friends Monica and Rachel*. They have been sending Christmas cards to each other ever since they stopped sharing Monica’s apartment in New York in 2004. In 2010 they decided to start reusing their Christmas cards, so in 2011 Monica sent Rachel the card Rachel had sent her the previous year, and Rachel did the same. Since then, they have swapped cards every year and have added the highlight of the year. It’s a really nice way to keep track of the milestones in a friend’s life. So, in your case, you could write:
(Jane) 2010 – the year we finished university
(Mark) 2011 – the year I moved to Scotland
(Jane) 2012 – the year I went vegetarian (and Jim didn’t)
(Mark) 2013 – the year I got a proper job
(Jane) 2014 – the year Jim proposed
(Mark) 2015 – the year Dan and I bought a house
(Jane) 2016 – the year we travelled around Australia
*Please note the names used are for illustration purposes.