The Making of a Christmas Card List

Chaos in Print

Ah, the holidays. I really do like this time of year. Christmas trees, the lights, and the presents! Lots and lots of presents! But there’s one part of the Christmas experience that I had yet to take part in, and I swore that this year I would start. It was time for me to put together my very first Christmas card list. It made such perfect sense! I mean, I’ve always been a guy who loved sending letters and postcards and the like, so why I hadn’t done it in the past was alarming. Well, that’s not true. I did put together a bit of a list and I sent everyone cards from my Christmas in Japan, but that doesn’t really count. It didn’t have the same sense of “official” about it.

So, the first thing I had to do was get everyone’s snail mail address. In this modern age of telecommunications, we’re always exchanging cellphone numbers and e-mail addresses, but we don’t share our snail mail addresses that much. Back in November, then, as I sent out my monthly newsletter, I included a little tag: “Oh, and I’m putting together my Christmas card list. If you want on it, send me your address!” I got a couple responses from that, and I followed that up by targeting specific individuals who I wanted on the list, but didn’t respond to the mass invitation.

With the list of coveted addresses, it was time to go out and buy the cards. Now, I’ve often prided myself on my ability to select the perfect greeting card. It’s my superpower, if you will. The secret to selecting the perfect greeting card is to choose something that’s both reflective of your personality and the recipient’s personality. But with a mass mailing like a Christmas card, those rules no longer apply. You have to appeal to a mass audience; something that will appeal to everyone. Ultimately, I chose a teddy bear giving a Christmas card. Nothing appeals to the mass audience like “cute.”

From there, it was time for your “value-added material.” That’s the fancy marketing term for the stuff that’s free with purchase. When it comes to Christmas cards, it’s usually a letter sharing family news, or a picture of the family. But I, in my finite wisdom, decided to do something that used all my wonderful radio skills that I’m not using.

I was going to do a radio show…my “2005 Year in Review Broadcast.”

Granted, it was an idea I had been kicking around in my head for a while, and early in the year I had decided that I was going to do it. Of course, in my grand scheme, I would record it by sneaking into work after hours. How I was going to do it was something that confused me, but first things first! Let’s get this puppy written.

I had been deciding what music I was going to include on it since about mid-September. It was a lot of music I didn’t own, so getting the music meant a few sleepless nights with my file sharing service. From there, it was on to scripting.

In addition to doing my regular DJ shtick, I also decided to do a series of scripted, produced bits. Again, these were things that had been floating around in my head for a long time. The only thing I needed to do was to just sit down and put them on paper. When it comes to producing some of my stuff, I find I’m not one who can just sit down behind the mixing board and get to work. I need that script; I need by blueprint. When all was said and done, I had about a dozen bits scripted.

Now, recording the bugger. By the time I had my music and my script, I had a solution. Lucky for me, my old instructors at NAIT have fallen sympathetic to my plight, and they’ve let me sneak into NAIT after-hours to use the school’s equipment to tweak my demos and such. Another pleading phone call to my old instructors for studio time, and I was set.

After five hours of studio time, I had my finished broadcast, all burned to CD and ready for distribution. I went home and sat down at the computer where I burned off all the copies I’d need to get my broadcast to the people. Then, it was the good old fashioned act of stuffing and licking envelops. I was all ready to mail the cards!

Because of the CD inside, I was afraid if standard postage would cut it, or if I’d need extra. I took one down to the post office and asked, “Will a regular stamp be good enough, or do I need more?” After weighing it, my friendly neighbourhood postmistress said, “Nope. You’re going to need 85¢ stamps for these.” And, for the Christmas cards to my friends overseas? $3.40.

When all was said and done, 15 Christmas cards cost me $25 in postage. So, as much fun as it was, I don’t think there’ll be a CD included in next year’s Christmas card. No…you’re all going to get a letter, with a URL and instructions on how to download the 2006 broadcast.

But now, I have done my first official Christmas card list. It’s amazing how it’s almost an undertaking these days. I know, it’s far, far easier to send an e-mail to all your friends saying, “Mry Xmas.” But, riddle me this. Can you take an e-mail like that and hang it on your fridge as a sign of Christmas cheer? Nope. I’ve done my bit to spread Christmas cheer, and it makes me feel good.

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