Consider your usual written correspondences: most likely you write and receive dozens of emails every day, and text messages fly in and out of your cell phone. Concise and rapid messages are ideal on busy workdays when there are plenty of proposals, meetings, and follow-ups to fill up your schedule, not to mention your inbox – and now, PDAs and tablets have made written communication more efficient than ever. Of course, when we are so accustomed to quickly skimming messages on a screen, receiving a classic handwritten card or note is a special occasion. This is why writing Christmas cards is one of my favourite holiday traditions – it is a wonderful yet extremely simple gesture that sustains personal connections not only between loved ones at the holiday season, but also between business contacts and partners.
The email and digital age certainly has not done away with the classic holiday card. Sending seasonal greetings to family and friends the traditional way – with a handwritten note, or a family picture sent in the mail with the yearly Christmas letter – has endured: every year, the average Canadian canadian business contact sends out 50 holiday cards to personal contacts. Receiving a card in the mail creates a moment of close connection between people who may be hundreds of miles apart. Writing cards, too, is a heartfelt occasion – taking the time to consider your addressee and to compose a few words is the perfect way to reflect and remember those near and far to you. Setting aside a few hours to write notes at the holidays is certainly worth the time and effort.
Not only are holiday cards a great means for keeping in touch with family and friends, but they are also an effective relationship builder between business contacts. Sending a card to former employers or past business partners indicates that you still value their connection, and it helps to sustain your professional relationship – keeping options open for new business or employment in the future. Including current clients, partners, or prospects on your list of holiday card recipients shows them that you are willing to give them your time and effort, and that they are an important part of your network. A small yet kind gesture can go a long way in business.
When writing a holiday card to a professional contact, the message should be friendly but not overly personal. A short message wishing the best in the holiday season or a brief reflection on your work together in the previous year will suffice. If you are not certain that the recipient celebrates Christmas, keep your message and choice of card general and non-denominational, such as a New Year greeting or a seasonal image.
There are many wonderful styles of paper and pattern to choose from. Here in Toronto, stores like The Papery and Essence du Papier offer a wide variety of holiday cards, from the classic to the creative. And a timely card in December is always better than a late one that arrives after the New Year, so be sure to write and send them soon – the holiday season is already here!