The Church Christmas card debate rears its ugly head again

I am trying to do a bit of cost-cutting just now. The credit cards have gone and the budgetting is getting serious. Lights are being put out and heating is turned down a tad. I even tried bargain-priced Astral face-cream – well if it’s good enough for Joanna Lumley… – but I felt like I had the contents of a chip pan on my chops so gave up on that one. I may even be chopping my Christmas card list to a minimum with e-cards sent to those who won’t mind.

And that brings me to the subject of Christmas cards in church. We all have special friends in church to whom we like to send a card. Only we don’t ‘send’ it, we bring it to church to save money on postage. This is a good thing, you’d think. But I have a bit of a problem with this. For one, it means clutters of envelopes lying at the back of church well into February because someone hasn’t been or forgot to have a look. And I have also seen the sad faces of those who look hopefully through the cards, helpfully in alphabetical order, only to find nothing for them. Why am I not as popular as Mrs so-and-so? She gets dozens every week and I get nothing. Does nobody like me? Have I done something to offend?

So, in the past, I have suggested that people write one Christmas card to all their friends at church and we put it up on the wall. If you like, you can even put the money you’ve saved into the jar for charity. It is a great idea which you’d think would please all. But no. It seems that we still want to send cards to ‘special’ friends just in case they send one to us. So it still goes on. Some send a card to church but also sneak a few personal ones at the back of church. And some people go on feeling hurt and rejected.

Anyone out there managed to crack this one?


14 thoughts on “The Church Christmas card debate rears its ugly head again

  1. You’ve highlighted a well-established dilemma. Not only are all the behaviours you’ve listed a common pain in the …. but there is also the guilty Pavlovian response of he/she sent me a card so i’d better return the favour.
    Then, inevitably, “Oh no, I forgot so-and-so”, which happens every year to all of us.
    I suppose one alternative might be to put up a notice on the church noticeboard explaining that this year instead of sending cards a large donation will be made to ? Yes, what?
    Perhaps the church heating bill.
    Hmmmm. Lead balloon.
    Sorry it still remains a permanent problem.

  2. It seemed worth trying, so we did! A huge card, which everyone signed and then put up in church – just where we had coffee. the card was a large piece of card with stickers on, [stars, glitter, chopped up nativity scenes from last year’s cards]
    Everyone helped make it, and everyone signed it – and it did the trick.

  3. Have no idea what the answer is to this.

    Using the “Church Postal System” works when you want to send a card to somebody you meet every Sunday, but do not know their address. Even more so if you miss a Sunday in December due to weather, etc.

    Is the giving and receiving of cards part of a mission of delivering personal season greetings to those who you consider to be friends. Using the “Church Postal System” already saves you money, which can be redirected elsewhere – Church Fabric Fund, etc.

    Using the card on the notice board takes away this personal part of this mission. Does it gives the same message, does it change the amount you give to a charity.

    As for email greetings – in years gone by these were used as a means of reducing the cost of cards being sent, but the emails now do not seem to be sent.

    Finally, a collection of card on the bookcase until Epiphany do give the house a festive feel, but it become very bare once January sets in and they have been sent to the Christmas Card Recycler.

    • Stewart, what I find most peculiar about this handing out of cards at church is that people will put them on the pile while the named person is standing right next to them. Why not actually hand them directly to the person, or put it discreetly in their pocket or bag?

      For many people it seems to be that their list is made up of the people who gave them cards the year before and not for any other reason. Why give a card to someone you see each week anyway? That’s not mission! Cards surely are for those we don’t see very often or who live far away. No?

  4. I give (not leave at the back of church) a card to the friends I have at church who I think I would send one to even if one or other of us moved. Everybody else gets included in the one pinned up at the back. Most people do this and the money saved is put in a stocking forerty Christians Against Poverty.

    From my experience of a number of clergy they never send/sent cards to the flock for fear of missing someone…or maybe they just didn’t like me!

    What about getting the children to hand the cards over rather than people having to look through the bundles? Would help them get to know the olds too. Doesn’t solve the problem of some people being more popular than others, but that’s life.

  5. Best way is to avoid church completely. Then no need to play Christmas games and no need to indulge the damage done by its loving community.

  6. Fyi, I send one to everyone on the congregational roll but it is a churchy ones with services etc in it.

    And what children?!

    Not sure I like the comment that ‘that’s life’ when some people are more popular than others. It is still hurtful if you are a quiet shy type who finds it hard to make friends.

  7. I’m sure it is hurtful but it isn’t something you personally are going to solve by way of an edict on Christmas cards, that’s what I meant. The person I know who gets most cards is my Mum – guess what, she sends most too.

    No children at all? Are they banned?

  8. Rather than a heap at the back of the church, why not have a nice red box with some fliffy cotton wool snow and a robin on top. Empty it on Christmas Eve and distribute to those in the congregation for the Christmas Eve services (not you personally – the teenagers in the congregation if possible) and ask people to drop off cards near them to anyone who hasn’t turned up by midnight mass unless you know that they will be there on Christmas morning. 5p stickers to act as stamps could even raise funds for some special charity.

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