07 September 2011

Thirty by thirty update: birthday card stash

Way back when – eighty-four blog posts ago, actually, but who’s counting – I announced that, as part of my Thirty by Thirty list, I would send birthday cards to every immediate family for at least one year. It seemed easy enough! Sure, my family has more than doubled since marrying Mr. P, but that just means there are more cards to receive, as Mr. P’s family are a Card-Sending People. And every card received makes me also want to become a Card-Sending Person. So there’s my motivation! I could do it! Sure!

When I decided to take on the challenge, it was May. May is the big birthday month in Mr. P’s family, but then the birthdays drop off, until my stepsister’s and nephew’s birthdays in September.

*checks calendar*

Well all right, then. Time to become a Card-Sending Person!

I first identified my two biggest problems in sending birthday cards. The first one is making the trip to the store to purchase a card in a time-sensitive manner. Since I don’t like making special trips to Tar-zhay or the post office, I decided to knock it all out in one go, in August when there wasn’t a birthday breathing down my neck quite yet. That’s right, one trip to get cards for:

My husband
My mother
My stepfather
My stepsister
My stepbrother-in-law
My nephew
My other, newer nephew
My mother-in-law
My father-in-law
My sister-in-law
My other sister-in-law
My brother-in-law...in-law
My soon-to-be-brother-in-law-in-law

Yeah. That’s a lot of immediate family for an only child.

And that’s a lot of time spent in the card aisles for someone who picks out cards specifically for each person. We’re talking hours I spent in the Tarzhay card section. Owwww. Weerrrrrrs. In the caaaaaarrrrd aiiiiisles. When I finally returned home, my brain was mushy and filled with cheesy sentiments and lots of line drawings of flowers and kittens. And quite the bit of money was spent. The poor cashier was so confused. I'm not sure that explaining "Oh, you see, I'm buying all the birthday cards for the year at once!" made it any better.

But! Here is what I had to show for it!

Ok, so it doesn’t look like much. But that right there is a stack of birthday cards for every one up there! Plus a few anniversary cards even, for the bonus!

The second of my two big card-sending problems is remembering when to send the card. Sure, it’s on my Google calendar, but I don’t really have a good timeline in my head, you know? Like my stepsister’s birthday is exactly one week after my nephew’s, but somehow that doesn’t translate to “mail stepsister’s card one week after nephew’s”. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ve always mailed their cards on the same day, probably two weeks late, because I didn’t get around to making a special trip to the store.

Anyway, I decided to solve that problem by dedicating a special box to my birthday card project ($4 cardboard photo box from Hob to the Lizzob, first used here), and write down everyone’s birthday inside so I could see when the next one is, and keep them sorted in order of the birthdays. Foolproof! Hopefully!

So first I made a list of everyone’s birthdays, organized by month:

Then I used the little cardboard organizer/dividers that came with the photo box to write down the birthdays for each month:

And finally put it all together, with a pen and two books of stamps. No excuses!

So is it working? Well, my aforementioned nephew’s birthday was earlier this week, and believe it or not, I actually got the card mailed in advance. Like, he may have even received it before his birthday. That is probably a first in his nine years of existence! Watch out, Aunt of the Year award committee.

Hopefully I can keep it up – that’s a lot of cards to remember to send, but I really do want to become a Card-Sending Person. Before the age of thirty, no less. And I'm off to a good start so far!


Shanna said...

Someone gave me the gift of a card organizer many years ago [I was still a young bride] and I loved the idea so much that I used it till it wore out. By that time, I had everyone's 'events' memorized, so I just jot them down on the calendar at the beginning of every new year. I cheer you on with your card-sending efforts!

Anonymous said...

I cheat when it comes to remembering birthdays in time to get a card mailed. I just put a reminder flag on the event on my Google calendar, and Google is kind enough to send me an email to let me know when it's time. For the few birthdays that I've actually taken the time to put on my calendar, I have it set up to email me a week in advance, but you can pick any number of hours, days, weeks, etc. - L. Parr