Welcome back for the second post in the series How to Have a Frugally Green Christmas! If you missed the first post on gift giving you can read it here.
Many of you are probably starting to think about the Christmas Cards that you will send out this year. It’s a tradition that many people enjoy – sending and receiving cards, getting updates on friends and family members and what they have been up to over the past year.
Image by wordridden.
Honestly, we have only sent out Christmas cards once in the 6 years that we have been married, the year that Kaelyn was born. My family didn’t send Christmas cards growing up, so it’s not something that is a big priority for me. It seems to me like it can take a lot of time, and money too, and I don’t have much extra of those, especially during the holidays. On the other hand, some might say, if you don’t have the time to sit down and wish a Merry Christmas to those you love and care about then you are missing out on the spirit of the Christmas season.
I do enjoy receiving Christmas cards from family and friends and displaying the cards throughout the holiday season, but then comes the dilemma of what to do with them. Is it terribly unthoughtful to recycle the cards and throw away the photos that someone spent time and money sending to you? But, do you really need to keep the pictures, and how do you store them? This is a tough topic to find balance on, because I know that some people really enjoy and cherish the tradition of sending and receiving of physical Christmas cards, but I also think that we have to be aware of the resources used and waste created by carrying on this tradition. Did you know that the amount of Christmas cards sold in the U.S. alone each year would fill a football field 10 stories high? And the paper needed to make the cards requires the wood of almost 300,000 trees?1 That puts a bit of a damper on my Christmas spirit!
I do believe though, that sending Christmas cards can spread love and joy during the holiday season if done thoughtfully. Here are some of my ideas:
1. Send ecards. Do you really need to send an actual physical card, or will an ecard accomplish your goal of staying in touch and sending your love during the holiday season? I think this is obviously the most frugal and green option. By not sending 50 Christmas cards you can save 5 lbs. of waste, 1000 lbs. of emissions, and 1000 kilowatt hours of energy.2 The e-card is really appealing to me because it can be free, requires no envelope addressing and stuffing, no stamps, no gathering addresses, and produces no waste. You can find a service that offers free ecards, or you can sign up for a free trial at sites like Blue Mountain or American Greetings and send your Christmas ecards during your trial period.
2. Use postcards. Postcards use less paper, are cheaper to buy than traditional cards, and are cheaper to send too! I think postcards are a really cute idea, especially if you are someone who has just done the flat 4×8 photo card in the past. Postcards accomplish basically the same thing, but don’t require an envelope, saving even more paper. You can create a personalized photo postcard at Hallmark.
3. Make homemade cards. If you are crafty (I wish I was!), using paper and supplies that you already have on hand to make your own cards adds a great personal touch to sending Christmas cards, which is sometimes lacking from store bought cards. It can also be a way to include your kids by having them help make the cards, and may encourage you to simplify your mailing list to limit the number of cards you have to make. 🙂
4. Buy cards made from recycled paper. This is probably the most expensive option, but if you are someone who loves to send out Christmas cards, this is at least a more earth friendly way to do it. I found a company called Cards for Causes that offers recycled Christmas cards and also donates 20% of the price of the cards to an environmental charity of your choice. (I have not ordered from this site, so cannot recommend them personally.)
Like with the gift giving, check your mailing list and see if you can simplify it. Not to sound harsh, but I believe that Christmas cards should be sent to show your love for your closest family and friends that you keep in touch with at other times than just Christmas, not to show off your family to someone you haven’t seen or talked to since high school. If you are sending out cards or postcards, see if you can trim a few names from your list, you’ll save money in the amount of cards you’re buying, on postage, and on time spent writing a greeting and addressing the cards.
Image by Martin Deutsch
Stop by next Friday for How to Have a Frugally Green Christmas – Wrapping Gifts, and the first ever GIVEAWAY on my blog!!
What kind of Christmas cards are you sending this year? How do you simplify your Christmas card mailing list?
Check out Life as Mom for more Frugal Friday tips!