12/11/2012 07:54 pm ET Updated Feb 10, 2013

4 Better Ways to Get Addresses for Holiday Cards

Despite the rise of ecards, we still enjoy sending actual invites, letters and holiday cards -- and even more, we love receiving mail from loved ones. One of life's little treasures is opening your mailbox to find an envelope from a friend or family member, with that moment of anticipation as you wonder what's inside, and then carefully edging apart the envelope's seam to see what printed goodness awaits. It's like Christmas for the other 364 days of the year! Perhaps nothing is more indicative of the strength of the printed card than email invite darling Paperless Post's recent move into real, actual paper.

But getting up-to-date addresses to send those invites, letters and cards can be really tough! And this time of year, with 63% of American households still sending physical holiday cards, the hunt for addresses is on everyone's mind. If you are getting ready to send your holiday cards and have realized that, once again, your friends have forgotten to respond to your request for addresses -- don't worry, you are not alone. In fact, 30% of Americans report that they find it difficult to keep current contact info. But why do your friends -- your friends of all people -- make your life so hard?! Here are four possibilities.

  1. Just like you, your friends are busy. Your friends meant to reply to you, they really did, but then they got an email from their boss, or a call from Mom, and they forgot about it as their inbox filled with other messages. Plan to follow-up with your friends, and you won't feel so bad when you actually have to do it!
  2. Your friends don't realize you're on a schedule. All of us have different timelines for when we send our holiday cards. If your target date is on the earlier side, your friends likely don't even realize that you need their addresses soon and how important this is to you. Don't be afraid to let your contacts know what your deadline is!
  3. Your friends are trying to figure out where they'll be living before they reply. This one is easy to understand and sympathize with. Your friends may need to lock down new addresses before they can receive a holiday card that may not arrive for a couple of months. In this case, it's best to wait, but you can ask them to let you know when they find a new home, put it on your calendar to follow up with them down the road, or find a way that allows you to connect with them real-time.
  4. It's not your friends, it's you! This is one we were surprised by, but it's true. Many times, we combine a request for addresses with something else, like a catch-up email or a save-the-date. A recent save-the-date I received asked me to confirm my attendance online. I did, and I completely missed the part of the email that asked me to also reply with my address. One month later, I received an angry message from the bride! If you're asking the person on the other end of your email to do something, make it clear, and even better -- as many email marketers will tell you -- try to include only one 'call-to-action' per email.

Want to make holiday card address collecting even easier? I've put together four more tips to make this holiday card season a breeze:

  1. Use the holiday cards you receive. If you still have the holiday cards you received last year, be sure to copy down the return address labels. If you don't have those cards still, wait until January to send your own cards and you will be able to glean mailing addresses off the cards you receive in the meantime!
  2. Share the work. If your holiday card list overlaps significantly with other people's, designate someone in your group to collect the whole group's mailing info each year. That person can then forward the mailing info to the whole group and everyone saves time! My brother and I do this through the company we created, conXt , and when we use it for our extended family, it's a real time-saver.
  3. Fire on all fronts. Everyone responds differently to different forms of media. Take your request for addresses and put it in emails and texts, post it on Facebook and Twitter and call your contacts, too!
  4. Go Digital. There's a lot of free services out there -- don't be afraid to use them! At its simplest, just create a Google form and send it to your friends. Or, go the whole distance and use a free online address book like the one I co-founded, conXt. conXt is designed as a household address book, and gives you a personalized web link that helps you get addresses through email, text, Facebook and Twitter; enables you to easily follow-up with people whose addresses you're still missing; and allows you to connect with those closest to you so you have their most up-to-date contact info next year as well.
While sending holiday cards can seem like a lot of work, don't forget the joy that a holiday card can bring. For me, the best part about building conXt has been this holiday card I got from my brother and his family last year. It's still hanging on my fridge, and soon will have another to keep it company!


Do you have any stories to add about your friends not getting you their addresses? Let us know in the comments section.