Girl, Skip Those Holiday Cards (If They Make You Miserable)

Shannon Margaret Photography

After our 2019 holiday cards went out in the mail, I vented to my husband about how much time and work they demanded of me. All just to send cards with my toddler mean muggin’ on them. His response?

“So, just don’t do them next time.”

My inner monologue: “If only it was so easy! People expect to get a card from us! We have these two miracle children we thought we’d never have, and people deserve to see them in cutely coordinated outfits!”

I was SO ANNOYED. But I walked away and thought, shoot, maybe he has a point. In 2020, of course, I sent holiday cards again anyway. And what happened?

I found a cute inspo pic online, ordered a bunch of matching cranberry-colored themed outfits, scheduled a photographer at a local tree farm timed perfectly with nap schedules. And, then, one kid didn’t nap. The other napped late. No one ate. We left late. My husband drove to the wrong location. The tree farm was closing but was nice enough to let us squeeze in some shots. It was dark. It was cold. There was bribery with M&Ms.

The result: Four cranky individuals who could not get one single decent photo together — and a very talented and creative photographer who somehow got some keepers anyway. This one reflects most accurately the chaos of the moment: 

Family photo including mom and dad trying to wrangle two toddlers climbing out of a wagon
Shannon Margaret Photography

I chose the best photos in the bunch (and shout out to Shannon who worked magic to get them), put together an adorable card, and out they went. But I was exhausted. I overspent. And it all seemed so unnecessary. I created a long list of tasks to add to my usual to-do list when I really didn’t have to.

So what if we just — didn’t? Didn’t fulfill some duty or obligation that is manufactured in our minds. Didn’t spend a few hundred dollars on clothes, pictures, cards, and postage just because we feel like we’re supposed to. 

Last year I was complaining about this and other labor mothers are often responsible for, like gift buying, birthday coordination, etc., when my friend mentioned the book “Drop the Ball” by Tiffany Dufu. She said she and her partner had a similar conversation about holiday cards, and she’d decided to drop that particular ball. It got me thinking about all the possibilities to drop the ball, particularly for to-do list items that are not actually essential! Mamas, we can do this: DO LESS.

Maybe holiday cards are not the ball you need to drop, but maybe there is another one that is! Look at your list and see what can really be dropped. If cards are not it, at least try to simplify. If I do holiday cards this year (and yes, this is still up for debate in my mind — LOL), here is what I will be considering:

  • Using some photos of the kids that I already have that haven’t been shared on social media
  • Taking some photos ourselves
  • Investing in a photographer, but only for a mini shoot
  • Using clothes we have or thrifting for what is needed
  • Sending an e-card instead
  • Using coupons from the various custom card sites for a deal
  • Letting the company address and mail them out (I actually added this in 2019, and it was worth it for me)
  • Passing this task on to my partner to coordinate

And, of course, if my plate is too full this season I’m giving myself permission to skip those holiday cards altogether.

Colleen Lubin is a native of Arlington, MA who dragged her New Yorker husband back to the Boston area after years of splitting the difference in Connecticut. She has a B.A. in Mathematics from Quinnipiac University and an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from UMass Amherst, and has been working in higher education for over 15 years focused on coordinating orientation, cultivating belonging and developing student leaders. Colleen is a fierce advocate for women and families navigating infertility, loss and postpartum challenges. Colleen uses honesty, authenticity and humor to break down the stigma, raise awareness, and support the infertility community on her blog www.notquiteknockedup.com. Colleen is mom to two miracles Liam (2) and Logan (1) who keep her young and tired. She loves 90s hip hop and R & B, trying new recipes, Peloton-ing, sleeping whenever possible, and New York bagels. She does not love wasting time, people who take themselves too seriously, calling customer service, or bagels from anywhere else.

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