Why I don't send Christmas cards

To say I hate Christmas cards would perhaps be a little strong. I certainly feel no offence at being given one, but I just don't see much of a point. Here are a few of the reasons why I don't particularly like Christmas cards in no more than a stream-of consciousness order:

 - I'll get the environmental issues out of the way first: They spend a few weeks sat on your mantelpiece, they are looked at once when you first open them, maybe again if they have a joke of some sort contained within, and then you throw them away. I haven't looked up the figures, but the number of cards I see flying in front of my face through the Christmas season is phenomenal, and for something that essentially has the sole purpose of being thrown away it must contribute to a significant fraction of unnecessary festive waste.

 - The financial ones next: Christmas cards are expensive. For the price of what I assume to be a 'decent' Christmas card, you could just as easily buy me a pint of beer or a bar of chocolate, both of which you would give me preferentially if you knew me well enough to warrant buying a card anyway.

 - There's phenomenal scope for causing offence when Christmas card season strikes. Missing the wrong person out can open up a whole can of nasty, stinking worms that fester for years to come, which has led to the writing and distributing of cards turning into something of a military operation that starts being planned some time during August and involves the bulk-buying of obscene numbers of folded bits of stiff paper and firing them off at everyone you have ever met or are ever likely to meet just so that you can avoid upsetting anyone.

 - It's just so false an enterprise. For many people, the annual Christmas card is all that lets them know that you're still on the planet. Some use this as an argument for sending cards. I don't: If they're not important enough to at least poke on Facebook during the rest of the year, then why bother them at Christmas?

 - Having said all that, home-made cards are fine: they take so much time and effort individually that you're telling me I'm worth it. Giving me one out of a box of 500 is telling me I'm not worth it, so why bother in the first place?

To anybody who is considering sending me a card:
Ask yourself whether you're sending it to me because you really, truly want me to know that you're thinking of me in some way at this time, or if you're just doing so out of some feeling of duty or habit.

If the answer's something along the lines of "yes, actually, I like you and want to share feelings of Christmassy goodness with you," then please consider one of the alternatives:

  • Say it to me in person, preferably over a pint or two. If, to you, I'm worth thinking of, then we should catch up, even if we last saw each other only yesterday.
  • If that's not possible or particularly difficult to achieve, send me a personal message via facebook, email, text, telephone or one of the other billion-and-one lines of communication that are open for use. It's free, and it's the thought that goes into it and the words you use that count- don't waste your money on pointless and repetitive mass-communication*.
If you really must spend a small amount of money on me, then the following would be better, depending on the portion of your Christmas card budget that is to be pointed in my direction:
  • Buy me a pint (there are always plenty of festively themed real ales around at this time of year!)
  • Buy me a bar of chocolate.
  • Drop the cash into a charity box (as long as it's not a religiously motivated charity because the chances are it'll be wasted).
If you're thinking of sending me a card out of habit, duty, or other such values, then:
  • Don't bother.

What do you think?
Feel free to agree or disagree with me as vehemently as you like by commenting below or mentioning me on twitter (I'm @TeaKayB!)

* I don't like e-cards either, if that's what you're thinking. If the words that I'm receiving aren't yours then it's a hollow gesture.


  1. You seem to assume that everyone has access to the computer world, which just isn't so. I send cards to lots of people who have only two forms of communication available to them - the phone and snail mail. These same folk, believe it or not, are afraid of running up the phone bill because they come from a generation or two where EVERY call meant a charge, unlike today's cell phones (or the regular telecoms, but I can't change the mindset created by years of being frugal).

    Just pointing out that we all make assumptions about the world we live in, based on what we ourselves have access to. Maybe you think it's not honorable to waste money on people who sit in nursing homes or fight for their country (yes, I realize that the cause may be less than worthy), but I don't. These people need contact so that THEY don't feel like they're the ones who are only so much trash to be thrown out when their "usefulness" has passed. Yes, it would be great to go visit these people with a pint or a chocolate bar instead, but that's not always possible.

    So while I agree with you in theory on some levels, I think I'll keep sending Christmas cards - the real ones, with glitter for snow and cheesy sayings about the holidays - but I'll continue to pare down my list to those who can appreciate the gesture the most.

  2. Your points are all valid and correct, and that's exactly why I titled the post "Why /I/ don't send Christmas cards".

    In terms of frugality, unless an individual hasn't really thought about which phone service they connect to, it's actually cheaper to make a phone call than to send a Christmas card. I know you've said that certain people come from a generation in which making phone calls was expensive, but they're not any more. Learning and adapting to new situations and the changing world around us is all part of the game of life.

    You appear to have something of an axe to grind here: I'll refer you again to my title. It's all about why I don't send Christmas cards. Me, personally. Many other people may have plenty of reasons why they do, but that's because their situations are different and they are more than welcome to write a blog post on the issue. I'm not entirely sure where your implications that I'm some callous, heartless beast because I don't send cards to people in nursing homes comes from. Those of my family who are from older generations get personal contact from me, and I'm not sure how giving them a bit of folded card would be better than that. Related to my own thoughts as laid out in the post, if giving a card at Christmas is the only token gesture that you make to such people, then I'm not sure that relationship is as strong as they might like it to be anyway. Why not, for example, write a letter? I'm all for letter writing: it's far more personal, takes a bit more effort and would surely instill a far larger feeling of worth in the recipient.

    I do apologise if I've hit a nerve somewhere, but I'm not convinced I deserve the rant that is your second paragraph!


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