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Why I’m turning my back on this festive tradition

Now it might still be a little early to hear the jingle of sleigh bells, but for many businesses, Christmas has been in the planning for weeks.

I’m still coming to terms with the fact that summer has finished myself. However, with clients who do want to plan for Christmas, I can’t ignore it.

I hadn’t given much thought to the corporate Christmas card but when I ventured into the loft to retrieve my own Christmas cards (you know, the ones that are left over from years gone by) it got me thinking. Should I be sending a Christmas card to my clients?

No, I thought – I’m not sending clients a card wishing them a Merry Christmas and here’s why.

Why do we send Christmas cards?

In the Middle Ages, people would etch images into metal and wooden plates to give to friends and family at Christmas. It was the Victorians who then introduced the Christmas card as we know it now.

Sir Henry Cole, didn’t have time to reply to all the letters he got from friends and family at this time of year. So, he commissioned artist John Callcott Horsley to design the first Christmas card in 1843.

Much quicker to write out than a big letter, the card was sold at his shop for one shilling (a high price for the time). By 1880, 11.5 million cards were being produced.

Why am I not sending out corporate Christmas cards?

I would like to say for the record that I actually love Christmas and plan on sending cards to my family and friends as I do every year. But for me, corporate Christmas cards are different.

Lack of personality – It can be time consuming writing and sending a card but how much thought goes into it? I would simply write ‘to wonderful client’, add a ‘Merry Christmas’, maybe a ‘thank you for supporting my business this year’. It’s a generic message and I’m not sure how much the recipient gets from that.

One-way communication–Sending a card is faceless (well unless you design your card with a picture of you on it, but that’s weird). The clients gets the cards in the post and say to themselves: “That was nice, I must get in touch and wish them a Merry Christmas.”

How many of them actually will though?

It’s better for the environment–As I said, I love Christmas and all the excesses that it brings but when you think about cards as just a piece of card displayed for a few weeks and then throw away, it does make you think.

According to Commercial Waste, if we placed all our Christmas cards alongside one another they would go around the world 500 times! Now I know you can recycle card and paper but what do you do with the ones covered in glitter or adorned with bows? It’s a recycling minefield.

Cost–I don’t put a price on the joy a Christmas card is going to bring to my mum and dad, but when it’s my business, it’s different. The price of the cards and the postage need to be added to my expenses. And I can’t help but think whether I’m getting a good return on investment from that.

What am I doing instead?

I’m no scrooge, honest, but as I’ve said I’m not sending Christmas cards to my clients.

Instead, I’ll be calling them on the phone. A call is far more personal and it gives you a chance to hear from them too.

Clients are more likely to work with someone who they’ve built up a relationship with. There are now endless ways to communicate but you know what they say – it’s good to talk.

If your budget allows and you feel you want to, you could arrange to take them out to lunch instead. You have to get more from a meeting than a card surely.

If you are going to send a card

But if my rant against the corporate Christmas card hasn’t put you off and you still decide to send them, here are some things to think about before you make a start on yours:-

  1. Buy good quality cards

If you buy cheap cards, then it will usually show. That’s not a great message for your client. Thanks for all your support and business this year and I’m so grateful I got you this cheap card. Buy the best cards you can get. Maybe try and buy in bulk to make it cheaper and store the extras for next year. You could buy cards in the January sales ready for the following Christmas.

  1. Don’t make your own

Remember, this is for your business and although you want to be friendly and cheery, you still want to look professional. Don’t be tempted to use a card designed and made by your 4-year old. Unless you’re a real artist, I’d suggest shop bought.

  1. Consider your clients’ religious beliefs

It might seem like Christmas is unavoidable but remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. If you’re unsure whether a client celebrates this religious festival, choose a card with a message such as; happy holidays instead.

  1. Avoid the humour

You might find a card showing Father Christmas enjoying one too many tipples very funny but that comedy might not be shared by all. Best to steer clear.

  1. Include a personal message

To show some thought has gone into your card, make sure you write a personal message, as well as signing your name. For example, if you know that a client is due to go on the holiday of a lifetime, you could write: Merry Christmas. Hope you have a fantastic time on the trip of a lifetime next year.

  1. Make sure it’s sent on time

The trick to sending Christmas cards is sending them in time to arrive during the festivities. Send it too late and you risk missing people before they head out of the office. And don’t forget that you’ll need to send them much earlier if it’s international.

More support for your business

If even after my diatribe you insist on sending out corporate Christmas cards this year, don’t forget to send one to your accountant. We love getting Christmas cards!

We love to help businesses grow too, so whenever you are in need of financial help do give us a call or come and visit us at one of our THP offices located in CheamChelmsfordWansteadSaffron Walden and London City.

Avatar for Liz Cordell
About Liz Cordell

I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.

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