Holiday cards are a tradition as old, well, postal services. And in an era before Facebook and the internet in general, they were an important way for families and communities to stay connected. For people who didn’t get to see friends and family often, they were a way to ensure that at least once a year pictures and stories of each other’s lives were shared. And, of course, they were a way to celebrate the spirit of the season. Even today, Christmas cards in specific are still a booming business, with 1.6 billion Christmas cards purchased each year. And before you read any further, we just want to say that we are always in support of a method of correspondence that exceeds 140 characters!
However, despite the billions of holiday cards purchased each year, as the internet grows, so does the adoption of digital holiday cards as opposed to paper cards. As a fan of anything that’s pro-environment, we’re certainly supportive of the digital holiday cards here. And in an effort to make you a bigger fan of them (we’ll tackle some of the common objections to them below), we’ve dedicated this article to the many benefits of digital holiday cards.
Firstly, In Case You’ve Never Seen One, What Does a Digital Holiday Card Look Like?
There are many versions of a digital holiday card. The one you’ve likely seen is the family letter, done in a word processing type of document with photos and text. But digital holiday cards can take other forms. Some superstars actually create entire websites or webpages with interactive elements for their holiday card. And some people simply generate an electronic post-card type of image for their digital holiday cards. We’re sure that as image-based social networks like Instagram expand, you’ll begin so see those used for sharing digital holiday images as well. Essentially, we’re pretty sure that by this point you’ve seen several different variations of what a digital holiday card can look like.
Common Objections to Digital Holiday Cards
The most common objection to digital holiday cards is that they don’t feel “personal” enough. We get that, we really do. Especially for anybody who didn’t grow up in the “digital native” generation, there’s something that feels more personal about taking the time to physically write or sign cards. We might, however, argue that the efficiency of the digital holiday card allows you to have more time to write longer personal messages in each. And also, you only have the right to claim that digital holiday cards are less personal than paper ones if you do more with your paper cards then simply sign your name to them!
We also hear that somehow the creation of a digital card doesn’t have the “romance” of a paper one. For some, an essential part of getting into the holiday spirit is a day spent with a cup of tea doing the annual holiday cards.
We get it. We really do! But we will point out that the objections above are about intangible things. They’re about a feeling or a tradition. Of course, feelings and traditions are important things. But there are some very real world benefits to digital holiday cards.
The Eco-Benefits of Digital Holiday Cards: It’s Not Just About the Trees
There’s an obvious benefit to quitting the habit of sending paper holiday cards in that you’ll definitely save some trees! Cards are made from paper, and paper requires trees (though as we note at the end of this subsection, you can make more responsible decisions about card purchasing if you choose to still send paper). The less paper you use, the fewer trees you kill, the more you become a tree-free home. And killing fewer trees is always a good thing.
But there are other carbon footprint elements that are also wrapped up in paper cards. Paper cards require printing, which demands energy and chemicals. They then require being shipped to the store where you purchase them, which leaves a carbon miles footprint. And finally, of course, they require shipping to your end destination, which also leaves a miles footprint. In truth, when you step away from the paper cards, you step away from a pretty significant eco-trail.
Of course, we’re not going to pretend like a digital holiday card doesn’t have a footprint as well. After all, the energy to get online comes from somewhere.
And you can certainly make choices that will reduce the eco-strain of paper cards. Choose cards made from recycled paper and eco-friendly ink. If possible purchase small batch greeting cards made by a local vendor. If neither of those options are possible, consider purchasing cards that are also a fund raiser for a good cause, like the Unicef holiday cards.
And Before You Get Stuck On that “Not Personal Enough” Idea…
We actually think that the digital medium allows you to be even more personal with your holiday cards. You can write more, use more pictures, swap pictures and text out easily based on recipient and more. We completely understand that, for some, the inbox will always feel less personal than the mailbox. And we want to ensure that the mail carrier has a job as well! But if you’re truly looking for a way that you can personalize holiday greetings without taking a month to do your cards and developing carpal tunnel syndrome in the process, we think digital has benefits you may just not realize.
Or … Use These Alternatives to Greeting Cards
And there’s always room for creativity as well! We once came up with five eco-friendly alternatives to buying a greeting card – and we still think that these are great tips! Most of them won’t be doable if your holiday card list involves hundreds of people, but for the ones you really want to get personal with they’re great alternatives.
Did we miss a pro or con of digital holiday cards? Tell us about it on the social media channels below.