Holiday Greeting Cards: What’s the Real Message?

Have you mailed out your Christmas cards yet?

If your response was a slack-jawed, “huh?” you’re part of the modern trend away from sending traditional, snail-mailed greeting cards.  Nonetheless, most of us still find quite a few in our mailboxes.  These cards provide much-needed job security for postal workers who have little else to do nowadays.  They also send a message, but that can be hard to find beneath all the foil, glitter and mushy sentiments.

Here’s a handy guide to help you unlock the REAL message of  holiday cards.

christmascardkardashians Family Photo:

1)      The look: Family photo of cute kids in holiday attire says, “I started getting ready 3 months ago.  I bought matching outfits, got the kids dressed, took the photo, then had the cards printed, stamped and in the mail a month before Christmas.  Now I’m off to bake 20 dozen cookies for the school bake sale and alphabetize my pantry.”
2)      The message:  One of 5 available canned message/border combos says, “I got a discount coupon from Shutterfly”
3)      Who sends it:  Uber-organized Super Moms who are one step away from a nervous breakdown.


1)   The look: Glossy finishes, foil embellishment and heavy card stock all contribute to a rich, elegant look that says, “This is a tax write-off.”
2)   The message: Generic wishes for “the season” are as neutral as possible to avoid incurring the wrath of easily offended religious or anti-religious groups.  Businesses would just say Happy Winter if they didn’t think that would seem to favor pagans over other denominations.
The stamped signature (either foil embossed or simulated signature font) sends the joyous holiday message, “I’m too busy and important to bother to sign this myself.”
3)   Who sends it: Your accountant, lawyer or investment adviser.  More accurately, their secretaries, since that is who handles the whole process from ordering cards, through separating the wheat from the chaff on the client list, to printing mailing labels.


1)      The look: Tri-fold, single sheet with narrative interspersed with pictures of the family schussing in Vail says, “My Publisher program came with several newsletter templates.”
2)      The message: Braggy McBraggart list of kids awards, job promotions and exotic trips taken that year says, “My life is better than yours.”
3)      Who sends it: Old classmates, kids friends’ moms, exes, your sister-in-law or anyone else who wants to rub your nose in the fact that you and your family are total losers by comparison.christmascardpegGenuine card:

1)      The look: Elegant scene says, “Let’s celebrate the reason for the season,” without bashing your head in about it all.
2)      The message: Handwritten note starting with an anecdote about the dog barfing on the Christmas tree skirt and ending with good wishes and blessings says, “I’m a genuine person who truly cares about you.”
3)      Who sends it:  Me.  If you didn’t get your card yet, blame the post office.  They probably stashed my cards under a viaduct in Chicago again.  Those bastards.

About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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46 Responses to Holiday Greeting Cards: What’s the Real Message?

  1. franhunne4u says:

    Can I see the religiously neutral again?


  2. Al says:

    It’s not about just thinking of others at this time of the year. It’s about thinking of others every day of the year. Why just the other night, my wife said; “who is this ‘Peg’ person whose name you keep calling out in your sleep?!”


  3. Elyse says:

    Peg, I was about to think up a witty response, when an ad for Parrot Drones came up — showing me that I could use my Parrot drone to take wonderful pictures of Paris, The Grand Canyon, the Alps … what a humorous ad. Because were I to BUY a Parrot Drone I could outdo everybody’s Christmas newsletter. (I had one of those from an old friend noting that her son, a total nerd that nobody’s kids liked, was headed back to Oxford for his PhD … having “gone down” from Oxford this spring. Barf!)

    Me, I send out a couple of hand-written ones. Usually in January. Wish I lived in Chicago so I could blame the viaduct.


  4. The Cutter says:

    I tried to write a newsletter this year, but it was either going to be horribly boring or I’d have to basically make stuff up to sound exciting. So we went with option 1. And our discount was from JC Penny, not Shutterfly.


  5. I stopped sending paper cards out years ago – no time to sign and address them, and too expensive. I mean really – half a buck to mail each card? Or more, if they’re considered “oversized” by the post office? Never mind the cost of the cards themselves, and they’re not cheap these days. I have very few friends or relatives worth that kind of outlay. I just send everyone a nice, generic email instead – ’cause you know, that’s so much more personal.


  6. M.Winter says:

    Am so guilty of the second one! Though I only did that in once when we moved back to California from Indiana. Thought it’d be a great way to reconnect with old friends in Cali and let friends in Indy know we’re doing alright. But I still get tons of those “newsletters” every year. I like it – them letting me know what’s been going on with their lives.


  7. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’ve received very few cards this year. Each year they get less. That’s probably because I stopped sending them a few years back. Something had to go, and that was it. I don’t miss it, and I doubt any of my receivers do either. One less for them to send out. 😉

    Great post as always, Peg.


  8. The observations about corporate cards are priceless….especially the stamped signature.
    We used to get the box of assorted designs when I was little – so you could pick the card that you thought the person would like most to get. That was more fun..even if the little kids got stuck putting on all the stamps….yeah, often literally stuck, but it was merry


  9. Being from this frozen tundra called Maine, if I got one that said Happy Winter I’d be very offended. Now if it said “Winter Blows” that might be more accurate.

    Happy Generic and Non-Offensive Holiday to you and yours, Peg-o! 🙂


  10. susielindau says:

    Geez. How would you analyze my handmade cards? BTW. You haven’t been by to guess what we are doing in this year’s card, yet! 🙂


  11. I hate the corporate cards with a passion. The family newsletters? I’m a dyed-in-the-wool sucker. I love hearing how the kids are doing, love hearing that my friends were finally able to take that dream vacation. The ones I hate are the ones I’m most likely guilty of sending…I simply sign our names and lick the envelope.

    Those photo cards? Guilty of pure love! I come from a large family and we live everywhere but close to no one. I get to see my nieces and nephews grow, compare family features, and I’m guilty of keeping all of them hanging on the fridge until Thanksgiving of the following year rolls in. I then file them away and await the new batch.

    I’ve actually considered sending out a ‘Truth’ newsletter. Giving my love ones the lowdown on what a pure mess our lives have been, but then I realize, in truth, we all struggle.

    Damn, I need to get my A$$ over to CVS with the picture of my dog. Who can resist seeing a cute dog and a caption, “When can you visit?”


  12. ericafuni says:

    Haha this was great. I must admit, I love having the pics of family and friends kiddos 🙂


  13. I don’t send any cards, but Reggie does. He’s got a long list of paw-tographed prints to mail. There’s the cat across the street and the the pomeranian next door… Then he complains how busy he is during the season. I keep telling him to cut back, but you think he listens?

    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas, Peg! 🙂


  14. I bought some great cards from my favorite Maine card company Borealis Press. They are stacked on my dining room table with all the unwrapped presents. My newsletter will be a link to my facebook page so people can see photos of the family, and catch up on what has been going on with me over the past year. I love getting cards in the mail so I’m motivated to send them to make sure I don’t get crossed off the lists of those who still send cards. Christmas is in two weeks, right?


  15. I used to think holiday cards with photo collages and newsletters were just an excuse to show-off your superiority, perfect life and unimpeded happiness. Then I realized that’s what Facebook is for. It’s a holiday greeting you can send several times a day.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thanks for these delicious posts of yours and for the sparkling bon mots you leave over at my lily pad. Onward through the fog…


    • pegoleg says:

      What a great analogy. You’re so right about Facebook; it’s a never-ending Christmas newsletter.

      And thanks for the kind words – right back atcha. Have a wonderful. wonderful Christmas and a non-sucky 2016.


  16. You missed one, truly I have gotten a couple this year. The eco friendly card and envelope that make certain you know they are recycled.

    I don’t send cards and I truly wish other people wouldn’t send them to me. Just one more thing to think about. It isn’t that I am a grinch (much), it is that those I would send cards to, I talk to all year long. Those who send cards to me, I rarely talk to so it is in my mind a form of abuse; they are reminding me they are still out there waiting to pounce.

    Merry Christmas to you and all of yours Peg.


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