I am always mildly amused at this time of year by most of the holiday cards and holiday emails I receive.
My personal favorite in the mass emailing category was one I received a few years ago that was addressed to me not by name but began instead “My Dearest Friend.” No, I am not kidding. It really did begin this way. It may as well have been addressed to “My Dearest Friend, or Current Occupant.”
Other silly approaches to sending out the same email message to lots of people are things such as “blind” distributions where your copy in the To: box has “None.” Just as bad are the ones that you can tell have been sent to lots of folks because they are all listed in the To: box.
Email is so easy to send. There are no stamps to buy. There is no trip to the post office in inclement weather. All you need is a list of addresses and you can have at it. That said, the key to success is to make it personal.
The point of all of these holiday greetings is to let others know that you are thinking about them. Personally, I would prefer if you ignore me if you can’t make me feel special. There is just something about “To Whom It May Concern” that lacks the warm fuzzy I am always hoping for. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I like those who call me friend to actually show they care about me by taking a few minutes to personalize the notes they send me.
We all know about boilerplate, and I am not suggesting anyone actually write a one page individual note to everyone they know. What I am suggesting is that if you are going to bother writing notes that you find a way to add personal touches to parts of your holiday greetings so I can at least kid myself that you have only written to me.
“Dear Matt, I’m sorry I have not called you since early September.” This kind of opening would sure fool me. And, if you keep good notes as I do, it is not too hard to achieve. But, you can find your own solution. The body of the message bringing your circle of friends up to date can be basic boilerplate. Perhaps you can find another point in the message to add an additional personal touch that will really keep me guessing if you wrote the whole note to just “little old me.”
Put a clock on it. With the power of email, I would venture to say you could write 50 personal emails in under 4 hours. Is the friendship of those you know worth that kind of investment? I would hope so.
A few suggestions on those holiday cards as well, as I get more than a few from mystery friends. First, use a FULL return address label. (This is a corollary of my outgoing signature mantra.) If I can’t figure out who you are from the signature inside the card (Regards, John – Fortunately I only know 2 or 3 THOUSAND.) a full return address would enable me to feel more loved and allow me to say thanks by email. If you don’t help me out in this way and you are very conveniently writing to me from a NEW home address, you will even defy the powers of my “secret decoder ring.” (Did I mention that my wife frequently throws out your envelopes and gives me only the cards?) Business cards stuck inside are a very big and much appreciated help.
I am a big fan of taking the time at the end of the year to thank all of those who helped you survive.
Don’t muff it by making them feel unloved.