THESE days 80% of people prefer to receive a traditional card rather than an email greeting or a ho ho ho message on Facebook, according to Royal Mail research.
Mind you, about the same percentage would prefer not to send cards at all, according to my research.
Then again, I’m an old grump when it comes to certain aspects of the Christmas tradition such as paying 50p to send a card by second class post.
Sending cards started as a rich man’s pastime back in 1843 and it seems to be heading back that way. Perhaps it’s time to prune your card list and post only to those family and friends who really matter.
Many pubs and clubs have a card box which saves on postage to chums. But why would you want to send a card to someone you see in the pub anyway? Just wish them the season’s greetings.
This year the average person will send 19 cards, according to the Royal Mail. The average price for a card is £1 63. Add the price of second class postage and that’s a total of £40.47p. By heck, but you can buy an awful lot of turkey and Yorkshire puddings for that.
Years ago, before email and mobile phones and when only posh people had a landline, and cards were a genuine way of keeping in touch, my mother followed the same Christmas routine.
She would buy a big box of ordinary cards for ordinary acquaintances and distant relatives and individually choose special ones for special people.
This would entail several shopping trips to town and days composing the personal messages that went inside. Then she would wait for what arrived in return, tick them off on her list and compare the quality of what she received with what she had sent.
“Well they won’t get a special one next year,” she’d say.
Finally, she would decorate the house with the cards, choosing the best for the mantelpiece and hanging others on strings on the walls.
If she was a bit short she was not averse to adding a few from the previous year or any boxed left-overs and would then wait for the admiring comments of neighbours.
“I’ve had more than 50 this year.”
Which, at today’s prices, would add up to £106.50p.
According to the Royal Mail, 85% of people maintain this tradition and plan to display their cards this year.
I have a money saving suggestion. Why not buy a box of cards – and a few special ones – then write your own and hang those up? All your friends could do the same and you could liaise by email.
“I’ve chosen a nice one with robins on for you to send to me, Elsie. Is that all right?”
You could even, if you were inclined, slip one in from the odd celebrity for the mantelpiece.
“Gary Barlow? Lovely chap. Met him at Butlins. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without Gary.”
And on Twelfth Night when everything comes down all the cards can be put safely away in a box and brought out next year when you will only need to remove those from people with whom you have fallen out or who have died.
Of course, not everyone would applaud this practical viewpoint.
For instance, Sharon Little, Chief Executive of the Greeting Card Association, said: “Cards remain at the centre of all life’s special celebrations.
“We all love to be in our homes at Christmas time surrounded by the cards we have received from far and wide. We know that all these people have taken the time to think of us.
“Sending real cards to friends and family is far more meaningful than any form of electronic communication.
“You can’t put a Facebook message or an e-card on your mantelpiece.”
Royal Mail, by the way, points out that the 50p price of a second class stamp is the lowest in Europe. And might I add a merry Christmas to our postie, who does a first class job all year round. But he won’t be getting a card.
Last posting dates are: 1st Class Thursday, December 29, 2nd Class is today and for those who leave it very late Special Delivery is Saturday, December 22.