A stress-free plan to get your holiday cards out on time

Holiday cards. The only reason people don’t embrace this traditional ritual and go all bah-humbug on it is because they get behind the 8-ball. Then, when they’re exhausted from the Holiday run-around and overwhelmed with everything they have to get done…they just can’t imagine adding one more thing to the pile. So they throw in the towel, or worse, stress themselves to the max getting them done and out the door, missing the point of them entirely.

The solution to all that anxiety: get ahead of it while you can.

In one week you can take seven simple steps, one little one each day, that get you well ahead of the Holiday card madness.

Day 1: Make Your Master List

Make a list of all the people you will be sending holiday cards to this season. You don’t have to worry about their addresses yet (you’ll do that tomorrow). Today, just come up with everyone who should be on the list. If you can, set up a file on your computer (Word or Excel) and keep the list there. If you’re a pencil and paper type, don’t just scribble on any old scrap – set aside a special notebook or nice, clean paper that you can save in a folder.

Your goal is to create a master list that you can use year after year after year.

Day 2: Organize Addresses, Part I

Today go on a hunt for the addresses for the first half of the people on your list and put the address next to each name on your sheet (virtual or paper). If you don’t have someone’s mailing address, email, text, facebook message, tweet or call them TODAY and ask them to send it to you.

Day 3: Organize Addresses, Part II

As you did yesterday, go hunt for the addresses of the people on your list – this time for the people on the second half of the list. Again, put the address next to each name on your sheet (virtual or paper). Make sure you get missing addresses.

Do not go to bed until this task is completely D-O-N-E. You will thank yourself a million times over the coming years for having done this!

Day 4: Take a Family Photo & Upload It

If you already have a photo that you want to use, congratulations, you can skip this day! If not, gather your family (or just your kids, dogs, cats, whatever you usually photograph) and get that photo taken today. If it’s a nice day, take the picture on your front steps or outside. If it’s raining, take the picture indoors. Snap away until you get one with everybody smiling.

When you’re done, upload all the pictures to your computer and organize them in a folder titled “Holiday Card 2013”

Day 5: Edit the Photo & Upload It to a Digital Card Provider, like Tiny Prints

Get rid of red-eye and fix any other issues you might have with your best photo then upload the final image to an online photo card provider like Tiny Prints or Shutterfly. If you don’t yet have an account, set one up – it takes two seconds. Alternatively, you can

Day 6: Pick Out 5 Card Templates You Like

Set aside 30 or so minutes today just to go shopping for some Holiday card layouts that you like. Mark the ones you like as favorites so that you can compare them side-by-side. Winnow your selects down to your five favorites.

Day 7: Pick a Winner and Order

Play around with personalizing the 5 cards you have selected with the photo(s) you uploaded. Decide on your favorite look and order the cards! You might also want to consider adding an order of return address label stickers – it’s so easy to slap those on the envelope – and people who are on the receiving end love them too as it makes organizing Holiday card lists much easier.

That was easy, right? Once you get delivery of your cards, divide them into five groups. Write a quick note, address and stamp the cards for one group each night.

{feature photo credit + DIY rubber stamp holiday card tutorial via: oh so beautiful paper}

Are you a Holiday card lover or do you think it’s an overrated tradition? What do you think of eCards vs. paper cards?