On a 3-dimensional, metal, card tree with a star on top, I display Christmas cards as I receive them. I’ve done so since my children, now adults, were small.
This year when my son arrived for Christmas Eve dinner, he glanced at my card tree and then did a double-take.
“What’s with your card tree?” he asked.
“What do you mean?”
“There are hardly any cards on it,” he pointed out. “I remember when it used to be filled on all three sides.”
“People don’t seem to be sending cards this year,” I told him, “or else they’re waiting to receive a card before they send a card.” I went on to tell him that I sent mine out the week before Christmas, and two of the cards on the tree were from my mom, who forgot she had sent the first one and so sent the second one. Those two cards were the first of the season to arrive in my mailbox.
I’ve seen Facebook posts where folks have confessed that the near-fifty-cent price of stamps has forced them to forego mailing Christmas cards. Not knowing what kind of mailing list these friends have, I can’t say how much they would have spent had they sent cards. I bought 40 stamps in November and sent 32 cards a month later. So, it only cost me $15.68 to put some holiday cheer in the mailboxes of 32 friends and relatives. ... What’s that? ... You say I forgot to add the cost of the cards themselves? No, I didn’t.
You see, I never shop for Christmas cards in November or December. I think ahead. I buy them after Christmas when stores are selling them at a 75% discount. I seek them out in thrift stores, which incidentally also have 50-75% off already low prices after Christmas. I can get an unused pack of cards for as little as 25-50 cents then! I bought cards off ebay one year when I wanted to have a vintage theme. If you or someone in your immediate family is artsy, you might craft your own cards and envelopes. One summer I painted tree cards and made envelopes out of the previous year's leftover gift wrap. No matter where the cards come from, I prepare in advance and then keep the cards where they are easy to find when the time comes to continue my Christmas card tradition.
Buy/make your cards soon, and come next Christmas, your only expense will be the stamp. Is 49¢ too high a price to pay to deliver holiday cheer to a loved one? If so, you might consider sending Christmas postcards for 35¢ a stamp.
And remember, to receive cards, you need to send cards. Not everyone will reciprocate (I send cards to a few people who never send me a card in return but who I’m sure appreciate being remembered). Hopefully enough will so that you can display festive cards on your mantel, a shelf, desk, card tree, or card wreath.
When counting the cost of Christmas cards, remember to consider what is lost if you cut them out of your traditions. Plan ahead, and you (and your loved ones) won’t have to miss out!