What to do when you get christmas cards, but don't send any.
December 16, 2011 11:57 PM   Subscribe

I get Christmas cards. But I don't send any. How should I acknowledge receipt of them?

So this year I've gotten a few Christmas/Holiday cards that I normally would not have from people - probably because they feel bad for some of the things that have happened to me this year.

Of course, I didn't send any. These are some pretty close friends ironically.

How should I acknowledge receipt of them? Would a simple "Thank you" in email suffice? Should I go tacky and send an e-card?
posted by bluelava to Human Relations (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Send Christmas cards!

Or an email.
posted by mleigh at 12:34 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I refuse to send holiday cards. I send Happy New Year cards instead. Would you consider that approach?
posted by DarlingBri at 12:35 AM on December 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Send cards. I don't care if they're Christmas cards or New Year's cards or generic 'holiday season' cards, send them the dang cards. Email or ecards would be better than nothing, but snail-mail physical cards would be best. It's not hard, it's cheap, and it makes other people feel good.
posted by easily confused at 2:55 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

It would be nice to send cards back, but if you can't or really don't want to, you could call them to say thank you.
posted by heyheylanagirl at 3:46 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm going to agree that sending some physical cards would be best. However, you can also spring for a membership to Jacquie Lawson, which does superior animated ecards (though they can be a bit cutesy, I admit, so you have to choose carefully). A membership is pretty inexpensive and good for a year. I have sent people this card, which is more of a winter card, though they have more overtly Christmas ones of course, like this.
posted by gudrun at 5:30 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any response is really fine. A call, email, or best of all, a card back. THis could be a Christmas card, or a New Year's card, or just a postcard you've written a line or two on.

I am a sender of Christmas cards. I probably send 50 of them. But a long time ago I realized that not everyone does cards.

I don't play the game of "Well, THEY didn't send us one LAST year so they're OFF OUR LIST!" To me that's not the spirit of the thing. A holiday card is a thoughtful small gift that just shows "I still think of you, you're important to me, and here's a beautiful piece of real mail for you say thanks for being in my life." So I don't care if I get them back, it's simply my gift to those people and it's a tradition I really enjoy.

So you don't HAVE to send back cards, and you won't be the only one who doesn't. HOwever, note that it really is a sincere expression of fondness and good wishes, and someone took a little bit of trouble to do it, and so any respnse -- even a "Thanks for your card, I really appreciated it" email - is very nice to get.
posted by Miko at 5:31 AM on December 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

I send Happy New Year in return.
posted by effluvia at 5:48 AM on December 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I only just got around to sending Christmas cards this year (I'm 27 and just generally suck at snail mail because it's so much WORK) but the first round that went out, the ones I felt were most important to send, were the ones to my grandparents and to my boyfriend's family in two other countries -- in short, the people I can't necessarily rely on to communicate with me regularly by email or phone. When I get cards from immediate family or friends, I usually follow up with an email or phone call if I haven't sent them a card (hell, sometimes they get the email or phone call anyway, why not?). I don't get the "requirement" to send Christmas cards unless someone feels strongly about keeping the USPS profitable, and I don't get the games of taking people off your list. They're cards. They're supposed to make people feel happy, not guilt them into anything. And if someone thinks enough of me to send me snail mail, I'm completely happy to call them up and have a nice conversation in response. Isn't that the idea? Staying in touch?
posted by olinerd at 6:25 AM on December 17, 2011

Agree with Miko. As a person who sends a lot of cards and is heavily invested in every aspect of them, from the paper stock to the type to how the stamp complements the envelope, I think it's no big deal if you don't send cards back, especially if you have some sort of extenuating life circumstances.

If someone sends pictures of their kids, you might email something along the lines of "Johnny's gotten so big! Thanks for sending!" or "Thanks for the update -- I've been thinking about you" to someone who took the time to write a letter. But please feel zero guilt about not returning cards to people who sent a generic card with a database-generated mailing label.

If you still feel badly about it some months down the line and feel up to it, everyone loves to receive nice snail mail out of the blue. "Hey, I didn't have it together at Christmas, but have been thinking about you and blah blah blah" is really nice find in your mailbox in the pits of March.
posted by apparently at 6:43 AM on December 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

My parents (mom really) used to hand write and address 200+ cards a year. She stopped years ago and just donates the money. One person noticed the cards stopped and mentioned it off hand as a matter of curiosity and mom said she didn't have the time for it any more and that was the end of that.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:34 AM on December 17, 2011

I'm another person who sends out far more cards then I get back. I'm pleased when someone happily acknowledges getting the card, and a text message would be fine by me.

If a few years go by and I don't ever hear from someone about my cards I guess that they're just not into cards, or annoyed by them, or offended, and I take them off my list.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:50 AM on December 17, 2011

Why not think of it in a different way. Pretend it isn't a Christmas card. What if it were a letter? Or a postcard? How would you acknowledge it? Would you pick up the phone and call the person? Send an email? Write a letter or postcard in return?

I don't celebrate Christmas. From my teen years until my mid-30s, I sent holiday cards and noticed that it was a) progressively more expensive, b) more monotonous than fun, and c) I received few cards and the preponderance were actual Christmas cards where people crossed out "Christmas" and wrote in "Hanukkah" (even when the front of the card had Jesus on it and the sender knew me well)...and eventually I was burned out on cards.

Nowadays, I call people about whom I really care, and during the call, mention something they wrote in the card or the newsletter. If it's someone I don't know well, and it seems like it was perfunctory (like from the guy who sold me my car), I ignore it. For the few people with whom I really want to share a nice written message, I may send a New Year's card.

But yeah. Treat it the same way you'd treat a letter or a postcard and you'll feel more comfortable with your decision.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2011

I send more cards than I get back, and usually get emails as acknowledgment. Which is fine. I just like sending cards, and their email actually has more text than my cards do. And then I get to reply to the email, and we're all caught up again. So if you think they sent you the cards to stay in touch, email is okay.
posted by easternblot at 4:27 PM on December 17, 2011

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