It’s the one time of the year anybody actually reads the Radio Times, or drinks wine from a plastic cup, and it’s also probably the only time in the year you find yourself writing actual addresses on actual envelopes and buying actual stamps.
For the second most important person carrying a large sack this Christmas will be your postie, delivering cards from relatives you were 90% sure had died, old flames you wish had, uni friends and, in all probability, PizzaHut.
The giving of Christmas cards is almost as important as presents. People tend to fret over buying presents because they are likely to be in the presence of the person opening them, and are therefore privy to their losing-an-Oscar disappointment face. But that doesn’t mean you should skim on the thought process that goes into sending the perfect card.
There’s a lot of choice out there, not all of it great. Here’s some handy advice on what kind of card to send, and to who. Royal Mail shareholders will thank you for it:
The nativity scene
A trad choice, but a bit ‘nuclear family’ for these times. A safe option however to send to your slightly homophobic grandmother, who probably still wears frankincense as her chosen scent. Also good to send to your militant atheist friends, purely to piss them off; or to friends who have just had a baby – paste their own child’s face over Jesus’ – because to them, their child is literally more awesome than Jesus.
The artistic card
Because of course everybody has always wanted to know what a Cubist version of Santa would look like, or a Christmas tree drawn in spidery watercolour, or how a Rothko in gold, red and green might work. All this really says is that you were stupid enough to buy 10 cards for £20 at a gallery – so naturally send to the hipster guy at Central Saint Martins you’ve been chatting up, or alternatively, James Franco.
The singing card
Singing cards should be outlawed by the Geneva convention, along with lesser forms of torture, like waterboarding. It’s bad enough having people who couldn’t hold a note if it was sellotaped to their vocal cords turn up on your doorstep belting out Silent Night, without opening a suspiciously heavy card in the office and having to listen to a tinny rendition of White Christmas. So send to somebody you hate, obvs.
The homemade one from your kids
Cute. Who doesn’t love a card that opens backwards, moults glitter and says ‘Happy Xmas’, with a confused looking Easter bunny drawn on the front? A canny choice too, as it guilt trips the recipients into buying presents for your child. But remember to make him/her write a handwritten thank you note afterwards, that is a nice thing to do.
The sort of boring, play-it-safe card your inlaws send you, but sometimes – because it’s the last day of post before the 25th and all the shelves are bare – needs must. So it’s time to get creative. Grab a marker pen and add some gritty realism to the beautiful blankets of snow. Sketch in a few dog turds here and there, an overflowing litter bin, kids hanging out smoking rollies, an owner haring after its dog, (which isn’t just for Christmas), and post it to all the friends you grew up with in the town you all escaped.
The smutty one
Sending an ‘amusing’ smutty card is bad enough at the best of times, but especially at Christmas. Whether it’s a woman with santa hats over her nipples or a man hiding his penis in a giftbox, this is the card equivalent of a guy down the pub showing you the porn saved on his phone and thinking it’s hilarious. The only time I would advise sending this is if your Grandad is Prince Philip.
The one with a round robin letter enclosed
Don’t send this. Ever. Nobody cares that your kid is on their gap year in Thailand; everybody’s kid is on their gap year in Thailand. There are more British teenagers on their gap year in Thailand than there are Thai people. Oh, Sarah got into Cambridge to read English? Great - she’ll come out £27k in debt with an awesome knowledge of Middle English – good luck to her getting a job. A red robin letter = Katie Hopkins’ whole career.
The charity card
‘Great! A donkey! What I’ve always wanted!’, said nobody, ever. Do not send somebody a card saying you have ‘adopted’ a donkey for them. Nobody wants to adopt a donkey; it makes an ass out of you and them. Personally, if I was going to adopt any kind of animal, it would be an awesome one like a great white shark, or a hammerhead shark, or a tiger shark. Any type of shark, basically.
The one signed by pets
Some people (hi sis!), like to sign stuff on behalf of their pets; cards, prescriptions, cheques, you name it. If this is you, then writing their names in your hand will not suffice. This is basically the same as lying to your friends’ faces. They know that Sooty did not physically sign the card. You have to at least put the effort in. Fill the cat’s litter tray with ink, get them in it, and let their paws do the talking. Don’t send to people with allergies.
The worst thing to happen to the internet since the NSA and Miley Cyrus. It would be slightly more polite to send them a stocking with an actual severed limb inside.