Festive greetings sent to family, friends, coworkers, and business associates are an enjoyable element of the holiday season. The first Christmas card was sent in England in 1843. Despite the popularity of online cards and social media posts for other occasions, and a greeting card industry that is declining at a rate of about 5 percent per year, according to an IBISWorld analysis, when it comes to Christmas cards, many people still choose to write out and mail their cards.

The amount of money spent on holiday greeting cards is substantial, accounting for roughly 25 percent of total annual greeting card sales, according to the Greeting Card Association. Around $2 billion per year is spent on the 1.6 billion Christmas cards people send each year.

Although millions of people are still buying boxed cards, signing and mailing them, there is no denying that the process of choosing, addressing and mailing cards can take a considerable amount of time. Streamlining the process and starting card preparation early can make sending Christmas cards that much easier. Here is how to get started.

Choose your card
Photo greetings remain fashionable, particularly among families who may want to show how much their children have grown over the last year. If you haven’t had your family photo taken yet, be advised that professional photographers could be backlogged at this time of the year. If scheduling a sitting for a formal holiday photo is not possible, consider using photos taken during the year with a digital camera or cell phone. Many discount retailers offer photo-quality holiday prints at a reasonable cost that can be produced in a matter of hours.

If you have the forethought to shop end-of-season sales, this is a great time to purchase deeply discounted boxed sets of cards for the 2018 holiday season.
Keep your contact list current

Keeping a digital file of current addresses can make sending cards much more efficient. Update it regularly as people move or life situations change. While it may be more personalized to hand-address each card, sometimes time constraints may not permit that. Printing address labels can save time better spent writing personal sentiments inside the card that family and friends will enjoy reading.

Control your costs
Mailing greeting cards can get expensive. Carefully review your holiday card list and see if anyone can be removed from the list. Opt for electronic greetings for those people on your list who you are not close with, such as coworkers. Reduce postage costs by personally delivering cards to family, friends and neighbors who live nearby.

Beat the rush
Don’t have your holiday cards ready to go yet? Preparing them this weekend ensures your holiday greetings will arrive in plenty of time before Christmas Day arrives.