Getting the Family Christmas Card Done

 Every year it arrives like clockwork the day after Thanksgiving – the "annual first Christmas card".  It's uncanny how the sender, a friend who now lives a few states away from me, manages to time her card so perfectly.  This year, owing to the early date of Thanksgiving, it arrived on November 23rd, which sent me into a little bit of a rant.

I just think it's wrong to start getting Christmas cards in what I consider to be "mid November".

The sender of the "annual first Christmas card" must have quite a system going.  I assume that I'm fairly far down her list as I only knew her for a very short time when our sons were two – they are now 16.  So for 14 years, her annual missive has signaled the start of my Christmas angst…that feeling of being not quite "Martha Stewartish" enough to have my holiday act together.  My cards will likely arrive the week prior to Christmas (if I'm lucky!).  A few years ago, I splurged to have an expensive photo card featuring my sons printed and then never got around to sending it out.  I'm such a cheapskate that I sent it the next year, with an updated photo included – photographic evidence of not only how much my sons had grown, but also of my procrastinating ways!

I will never be the sender of the "annual first Christmas card", but I do feel it is important at least once a year to share a photo of my handsome boys and some words of love with my family and friends.  So I persist in my efforts.  The following are a few tips that work for me in the effort to get those holiday greetings in the mail:

  • Send Photo Cards.  Rather than the overblown family newsletter, I prefer to send an up to date photo of my kids.  Getting teenage boys to pose for the family card has been increasingly difficult…perhaps even harder than it was when they were toddlers.  I continue the tradition because I know how very much I love being the recipient of photo cards from my family and friends.  It's fun to see the families grow and evolve.  Family photo cards are now reasonably priced and can be printed overnight at many discount stores.  Make your card fun, quirky and not overly posed for best results.
  • Involve the family in production.  Mom signs the cards, Dad stuffs the envelopes, kid number one slaps on the address labels, and kid number two affixes the stamp and return envelope.  Brew a pot of hot cocoa and make this another one of your family's annual traditions. 
  • Keep track of addresses.  Every year, as my Christmas cards come in, I clip the return addresses from the envelopes and stick them into a small plastic bag in my Christmas card basket.  Sometime in January, I remove the addresses, place them in alphabetical order, and glue them to a sheet of paper.  Presto – I have a start on next year's Christmas card list.  I then compare the addresses to those in my address book and make necessary updates.

I love receiving Christmas cards every year.  Despite my inability to be the sender of the "annual first Christmas card", I always make time to share my joy at this time of the year.  How about you?  I'd love to be on your Christmas card list, so feel free to drop me a card:

Lisa Hendey
2037 W. Bullard #247
Fresno, CA  93711

Late cards are gladly accepted – just try not to send me one before Halloween!


Lisa Hendey, Catholic wife and mom, is the founder and webmaster of and the author of A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul and The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. Lisa writes for several online and print publications, enjoys speaking around the country and hosts the Catholic Moments Podcast. Visit her at

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