Sunday, January 27, 2013

Christmas is Almost Over

The holidays are safely behind us now, and a few questions from readers still need to be addressed. Here is one showing some great foresight and organization concerning Christmas card lists.

“With postage increasing regularly and Christmas cards getting pricier each year, I am wondering how to sort out this seasonal mailing. Sending a card to distant friends and family is fine, but mailing a card to someone just blocks away has me questioning the wisdom of continuing the practice. I do not want to be rude and feel compelled once cards start arriving to return a greeting to each one I receive. How does one reduce the Christmas list without being inappropriate? I'd rather put the postage and card money in a red kettle or toward another charitable effort. Thank you for your advice.”

I agree with you in principle and have decided to build the following year’s list based on who I received cards from the previous year. I mailed out about 50 cards this year including overseas, U.S., and Canada. I have been using this guideline for years and am amazed at how the annual changes are minimal. Flexibility is very important though – new people come into our lives, and then of course there are intermittent card senders, whom I tend to keep on the list. If people fail to send me a card after two or three years, I take them off the list.

Another area of concern is thank you letters. The time is fast approaching when thank you notes should be completed and sent out. If you haven’t done so yet, get on it. Without a thank you letter, which comprises as few as three sentences, you risk being removed from the gift list, not to mention how boorish it is not to show appreciation. Writing thank you notes the day after Christmas is the best path to follow. In case you forgot to write on the gift tag which gift Aunt Susie gave you, you will quickly come to realize just how helpful this practice is for keeping you in good graces with a gift giver. Perhaps next year you’ll remember.

Even though our Christmas trees have likely been pitched to the curb, lights and other decorations may still be hanging about. Putting away decorations should be done carefully and thoughtfully. Repacking Christmas ornaments and decorations is time-consuming. Many hands make light work. Turning this into a family activity accomplishes a couple of things. One is getting the job done; another is teaching your children how to do this and that it is all part and parcel of enjoying the holiday. If there are faulty strings of lights, throw them out. If there are burned out bulbs, consider replacing them now. This makes getting set up next year much easier. Taking care to pack delicate ornaments, papier-mâché crèche figures and other heirlooms helps ensure they will be enjoyed by future generations for years to come.

There are inevitably presents we receive that we really don’t want or have any use for. These nonetheless deserve a thank you letter and message of appreciation. They can then make their way to the all-important re-gifting drawer, or closet as the case may be. Be as careful as possible to save any packaging without damaging it. This makes re-gifting a snap. Be sure not to give the gift back to the person who gave it to you. This can be guaranteed if you put a note with each item. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll be able to remember who gave you the item or even when. Our memories can desert us when we least expect it.

No matter how we celebrate the holidays, we do need to remember that cleaning up is part of the deal. This is just like having a dinner party or any other celebration. Having a system in place to make the clean up as efficient as possible not only makes the process quicker, but also helps ensure less damage to old favorites that have been many of us for a lifetime.