Greening Your Holiday Greeting Cards

happy holidays stocking1 Greening Your Holiday Greeting Cards

Let your mind wander to an early December day.  Festive wreaths on neighbors’ doors greet you on the chilly – or maybe even snowy – walk to the mailbox. The anticipation of what might have arrived in today’s delivery.  Is it too early for a gift to arrive?  You open the mailbox, and there they are…

The holiday cards.

So warm and bright on this cold, gray day. You’re drawn inside to curl up by the fire with your hot cocoa and cherish the familiar handwriting of your great aunt, see how much friends’ babies have grown, and read those newsy, and sometimes awkward (which makes them perfect) Christmas newsletters.

The Eco Quandry of Christmas Cards

Along the path to Green Living, I have phased out many a thing that I once thought was necessary or important. Often expecting it to be hard, I usually end up not missing it at all.  But so far, I haven’t been able to let go of the holiday card tradition.

In my well-intentioned defense, my grandmother was the postmaster in our town.  Mail and cards were a part of our livelihood.  I spent a good part of my childhood in the post office – watching her sort mail, listening to stories from the mail carriers, and eating pineapple-flavored suckers.

I remember helping her hang enough holiday cards to fill two doorways in her house. To this day, when I see cards on display at Christmas, I’m reminded that this season is more about people than things.   

To shut out holiday cards completely would make me feel like a Scrooge. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to pare down our list and “green” the system a bit.  Most years, the conversation about sending out cards goes something like this…


Me: “I think this is the year.”

Mike (my husband): “The year for what?”

Me: “The year we make the leap and only send cards to people who aren’t on Facebook.”

Mike: “Are you sure?  You really get into that kind of thing…”

Me: “I’m positive. Trees, paper, inks, transportation, and who knows we’re licking on those envelopes!  Yep, this year, we’re taking a stand.  Less is more!”

Mike:  ”Ok”

Early December

Me: “Ohhhh!  Did you see this card from our old neighbors?  It’s so cute!  Too bad we didn’t send them anything.”

Mike: “Changed your mind already?”

Next comes my soap box – much less passionate than the first – about how recycled cards aren’t that bad. It’s like I’m trying to convince my husband.  But the truth is, he knew all along I wouldn’t go through with our crusade against the card.

Screen shot 2012 11 27 at 9.25.43 PM Greening Your Holiday Greeting Cards Digital holiday card from

The person I’m really trying to convince is me.

So this holiday, I’m facing it head on. I already know that day is coming when I’ll wish I had planned ahead and found the perfect holiday card.  I also know that if I don’t plan ahead, I’ll end up throwing something together at the last minute.  Like last year’s recycled paper photo card where the only family photo I found in a hurry had one of us (yours truly) in sunglasses.

This year, I plan on mixing and matching different sets of cards I’ve found at Abe’s Market. I’m definitely learning as I go, but this is what’s helping me keep the Christmas card process as simple and eco-friendly as possible.

  • Keep a digital address book.  This cuts down on paper, and helps you avoid a messy, scratched out address book if you have friends or family that move around a lot.
  • Pare down your list.  Think about the people you truly want to impact by wishing them a meaningful holiday this year.  If that includes your college roommate you haven’t talked to in 10 years, by all means keep him or her on your list. But if it’s time for some to go, just know you’re doing it in the name of the environment (and also your budget).
  • Photo card? Decide now.  Getting the perfect family photo can take time. Will you use a vacation photo from this summer? Hire a professional?  Or just take a candid of the kids in front of the tree?  Coordinating outfits and scheduling appointments always works out best when you’re not in a rush.
  • Including a family newsletter?  Start now.  It can take a few drafts to make sure you include the big news from the last year.  Be sure to keep it condensed to one page to save paper, and to make sure your recipients actually read it.
  • Break the process into manageable steps.  Set aside time in increments to handwrite cards and addresses, so it doesn’t take up half of a precious Saturday in December.
  • Choose eco-friendly cards.  The first card pictured in this post is 100% recycled kraft paper from Abe’s Market.  The center card is an interactive digital card from  If you decide to go with photo cards, many of the online providers offer recycled photo cards.  You’ll also notice greener options from a variety of card companies… ones that are known for being sustainable, and also companies trying to capture a more conscious audience.


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  • Lori Alper

    How about emailing your photo card? I shared mine on Facebook last year and then emailed it to the few that aren’t on there. If you decide to do a “real” holiday card the Bloomin Cards are gorgeous.

  • Jennifer Bennett

    Great tips Amity!  Your article has got me thinking because many times, I end up waiting until it’s too late!  Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Denny Hagel

    I have sent e-cards for several years now…seems as though everyone really enjoys the musical ones!

  • Hughie Bagnell

    Thank you Amity for sharing…eco friendly Christmas cards and your other tips are great ideas! Thanks, Hughie

  • McKenna Gordon

    I have a friend who has always sent electronic holiday cards. I can honestly say that I enjoy her cards more than the printed cards because she’s able to share so much more, including more photos, and even some video snippets from her darling kids, singing holiday songs or reciting their fave poem. Love these ideas. Thanks, Amity!

  • Solvita

    Love you advice Amity! This is a very useful information indeed…great ideas! Thank you so much…and have a great day!

  • Carla J Gardiner

    Sending wishes via a beautiful, hand made card is priceless. This type of card is better than a gift as the thought continues long after opening it. Cleaning out a drawer I found a couple cards my kids had made back when they were in kindergarten…they are now 31 and 28 years old. I still remember watching their little faces when I read what they had written and commented on the pictures they had drawn. I choose to send cards all year long, not reserving my heartfelt gratitude for a special day as each day we wake is a very special day.

  • Tiffany C.

    I have always adored greeting cards, but have tried not to purchase b/c of the paper…but you had me at “sustainable”!  Thanks to you, I am falling in LOVE with Abe’s Market!

  • Pingback: Add A Little Thought to Your Holiday Gift List

  • Greeting Cards

    a tough choice, to be sure – knowing who to cut and who to keep. I like to send
    more than less for the holidays and just pare down other seasonal mailers. Good
    point about Facebook friends. In some cases the Facebook friends have seen too
    much of me!

  • Nine Naturals Mom

    Don’t you just miss receiving Christmas cards via mail? That excitement you feel everytime you check your mailbox is reason enough to continue sending out cards and hoping to receive one as well. But you are right, we should only use cards made from recycled material to at least continue helping save the environment. But how do we narrow down our choices? To whom do we send out cards?

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