Holiday cards. Hate ’em or hate ’em?
Over in the LME a question was posed: “Are you receiving fewer holiday cards this year (print and e-cards),” and the resounding response was: “Yes!” and can be verified by the USPS:
In 2011, American households on average sent about 16 holiday greeting cards, according to the Postal Service’s recently released 2012 Household Diary Study report. Twelve years earlier, 23 holiday cards were sent. Data from the Greeting Card Association also chart the downward trend: U.S. consumers bought 1.5 billion holiday cards in 2011, compared to 2.7 billion in 1995.
(note, these stats are from 2013)
And then we started chiming in to answer, “Why?”
I have not conducted a full marketing survey on this, so I will go with my intuition and personal experience as I know I am receiving fewer cards, and it’s been a few years since I have sent any.
For the past 20 years I sent out cards, and lots of cards, because it was what you are supposed to do. I had a list with several hundred names I compiled over the years. I wrote a personal message on each card. After I had kids the family photo cards started, with a quick little personal note on the back.
As the kids got older, they helped to stamp and seal all the envelopes. We had an assembly line going. It was a part of our holiday tradition.
Then my mother-in-law got ill and passed away right before Christmas a couple years ago and I just didn’t send them. The following year I couldn’t find the urgency to pull it all together, and felt guilty for every card I received. This year I made the conscious decision to go without sending any and removed myself from holiday card list I had been on for 27 years. And I’m okay with that decision.
For me, the annual holiday card was a time to connect with faraway family and friends, business acquaintances and colleagues. It was putting a little cheer in someone’s mail box who might not have a lot of family or personal connections. I would send a recent snap shot of my kids and the next time we met you would be amazed at how they had grown.
And then along came Facebook and we are connected every day of the year.
Of the few photo cards I have received this year I realized that most of the pictures you used I’ve already seen on Facebook. I don’t really need your family newsletter because I know all about your vacation to XYZ, and your home remodel. I enjoyed the pictures from your wedding/new baby/graduation, and sadly, I already know about the recent passing in your family. And the good news that your daughter/son has gotten engaged/had a baby/was early accepted to an awesome college has already been shared and congratulated.
Come Christmas morning, I will connect with everyone I care about in real life, and I will call those who cannot come over to my house. Through Facebook I will enjoy every moment of seeing your kids awe in waking up to all the gifts that Santa left (because our Santa days are long gone), and will put out a notice that we’re headed to the movies at X time if you want to join us.
I believe the holiday card as a ritual is slowly dying out because it has lost its meaning in the land of Facebook and Skype. Which means that there is hope for a future. To me a holiday card will once again become something very personal, to be savored, just like a hand written thank you note, they will gain a perceived value.
Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah, from the MGM Family.