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Should I Keep Sending Christmas Greeting Cards To People Who Don’t Respond?

Published: December 9, 2015 | Last Updated: December 7, 2022 By | 25 Replies Continue Reading
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A reader wonders if she might be sending too many Christmas greeting cards since hers seem to go unacknowledged.


Hi Irene,

I’m really getting frustrated and don’t know whether I should be. I send Christmas cards each year to a long list of people—friends, family and professional colleagues—and fewer and fewer people are sending them to me.

Signed, Jessica


Hi Jessica,

A holiday greeting card sent to another person is an expression of good cheer that doesn’t necessarily require a tit-for-tat response.

In fact, there are many reasons why someone may not respond that have little to do with the way they feel about you. Instead, it may have to do with:

  • A general decline in snail mail, Christmas greeting cards, and increasing use of and preference for electronic communications;
  • Other things going on in people’s lives (life events, illness, general busyness over the holidays);
  • The cost of sending cards (both the card and postage); and /or
  • Ecology (growing interest in saving trees and the fuel entailed with mail delivery, etc.).

Bear in mind, too, that some people like you are natural connectors who keep up with friends while others are more likely to be passive about maintaining relationships.

If you are truly concerned about sending too many Christmas greeting cards that get no response, you may want to examine your list, prune it and send fewer cards to people who are more peripheral to your life.

If they are non-responders whom you really want to stay in touch with, you can seek out a more personal way of communicating (perhaps, even at a less busy time of year) either with a note, phone call or get-together.

Even writing a more personal note on the card that conveys your feelings might evoke a response.

A previous post on The Friendship Blog expounds on this issue and may be helpful:

Best wishes for the season!  Irene

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Category: Communication, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (25)

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  1. Lorraine says:

    I send out about 30 Christmas cards every year, and without fail, only receive about 4 in return.

    I believe that it is selfish of people not to send out Christmas cards, especially to those who have sent a greeting to them. When I send someone a Christmas card, it is my way of letting them know that I am thinking of them over the holiday season. When I do not receive a card back from that individual, this infers that they are not thinking about me, and in all likelihood, they are not.

    The problem with people today is that in their self-centered lives, there is little room or thought for anyone else. Life is all about them. Christmas is all about them and what they can get out of the season, not about how they might be an instrument to make the season bright in the life of others. So, I believe that selfishness is the number-one reason why people do not send out Christmas cards, and from this conviction I will not move.

    People who say they don’t have time to write out cards show themselves to be poor managers of their time. It’s as simple as that. If I plan to send out 30 cards, I will set aside time each day to write out, say five. I will do this every day until my list has been completed. It’s all about time management – a skill that most people lack. If they have time to drink wine or beer while watching their favorite television show each night, then they have the time to write out cards. The problem is not that they do not have the time, but that they are not willing to sacrifice that time in order to give or do for others.

    Also, let’s not talk about expense. If you shop carefully, you’ll find plenty of bargains where you can buy a box of 40 cards for as little as $5.00. If people can spend money on alcohol, Netflix, Smart Phones, take-out meals, dog toys, etc., then they have the money to purchase cards and send them out. It’s as simple as that.

    Selfishness, therefore, is the root cause behind the failure of those to send out Christmas greetings to others. Those who believe otherwise clearly have their heads in the sand.

    • Alyssia says:

      Lorraine Cheers! You are preaching to the choir! I too am a bit tired of carefully curating tasteful and pricey holiday cards for friends family/ colleagues and professionals I wish to do business with in the coming year ( this last group gets a pass) and not even getting an acknowledgment or receipt it is in poor taste!. I don’t expect a thank you or acknowledgment with the people I exchange with but do expect the courtesy with people who don’t send me one but happily display the cards for all to see!

      This character flaw I found is being passed down to the NexGen who are the Virtually Entitled livers of life who think a sophomoric letter, underage emoji, tired selfie and or a message from their dog cuts it, it does not:).
      Funny how this same mindset (young old educated and ignorant) seem to navigate life not remembering other birthdays over the age of 6 but love getting cards and presents?

      This lack of empathy and demonstrable indifference is the same mentality that “friends” anything with heart beat via social media and shares all of t heir private details with people they nave never engaged with beyond sharing images of BBQ’s.

      Happy Holidays!

  2. myappleid.com says:

    Even if my recipient never reciprocates, or tosses my Christmas card in the trash with nary a glance, the act of writing and sending it helped make me more human.

  3. Laurel says:

    There are people that I love but I am not able to see. I want them to know that I am thinking about them.
    In our busy world we sometimes forget that there are people who are alone.
    I am very computer literate. I use social media .
    But a card requires extra thought and effort. If I do not get one in return so be it.
    I enjoy sending them.

  4. Ben says:

    I think sending greeting cards is a perfect way of personally connecting with both family and friends. In recent times, most of my friends and family only send texts and Facebook messages by the click of a button. This click of the button happens without the thought of the person they are sending too and therefore lacks any meaningful connection with the recipient. I certainly won’t be clicking on the Facebook ‘LIKE’ button to any of these en masse messages from my pretend friends. I’d rather take the time to catch up with someone, call or send them a card to let them know I’ve been think of them.

    • Tanya says:

      Hi Ben,
      I think you are right in so many other words the world is getting lazy… I believe that by sending a card to someone is certainly more meaningful to any one, as the trouble & time has gone into it, from choosing or even making a card is more sentimental to any one who cares.
      Keep up with buying or making cards, it doesn’t have to be expensive you can nowadays by nice cards at a reasonable price.
      Take Care of Yourself,
      Tan xx

  5. dubious says:

    I think those who do not respond are politely telling you they don’t wish to have a relationship with you. Not even a once-a-year arm’s length post relationship.

    I wonder if your card is accompanied by a letter filled with your year of achievements, and that in the face of their job losses, disability, and child’s illness, and they never hear from you otherwise, such as a letter with a generous cheque, or phone call offering meaningful help. And making good on it even if they demure.

    I also wonder if your letter is photocopied or printed out en masse and could have (and likely was) sent word for word the same, to dozens or hundreds? In other words not a personal note at all.

    • Lauren Cullen says:

      I was really taken aback by this comment, which was filled with scathing inferences and judgments and uncharitable statements.

      “Dubious,” you are the reason why people become hermits and recluses.

      Happy New Year!

    • Lisa Engle says:


      People who do not send Christmas cards fail to do so because they are thoughtless, self-centered, and self-absorbed. Your interpretation of this negligence couldn’t be more incorrect.

      • BGrant says:

        I am fed with sending cards and not get any in response – not even a text message greeting, phone call or facebook message either. Even my two old school friends who I often meet with most Christmas for shopping don’t bother. One will only send one when I have sent one first (it usually comes a week after I’ve sent her one) the other never sends me one even though I send her one most years. Both know full well i have no family of my own, so if I don’t have any cards from friends I end up with an empty mantle shelf. I hope that makes them happy. There is one simple rule when it comes to Christmas: think of others before yourself. That is the spirit of Christmas, isn’t it. If someone would appreciate a card, as I always do, send one, and certainly do so if you claim to be a friend at other times of the year – but obviously not if you are trying to distance yourself from the relationship to prevent encouragement of the relationship. I get very depressed at this time of year and become almost obsessive about what cards I get and very down in the dumps when the postman arrives with cards for others who share my block of flats but the usual ‘nothing’ for me. I feel unloved and miserable, tbh. You can bet your life that those who claim they don’t send cards do with other people they know and all of them have family, so they probably don’t notice when someone doesn’t send them a card and think everyone else is the same. So Lisa, is right, people don’t send Christmas cards because they are selfish and self absorbed. It rarely has anything to do with the environment, lack of money (how much does a box of charity cards and a stamp cost anyway). As it is, I am thinking of dropping this facile ‘old school friends’ act with these two who I have known since I was 17 (I’m 56 now). I don’t really think either one gives a flying monkey’s about me and only meet with me to feed off bad things that happen to me to compare their own lives with mine.

  6. Auntjq says:

    Wow. To send or not to send. To send many or to send a few. I send Christmas cards every year no matter what, because it is not about me. I carefully chose a message to remind people of the true meaning of the season, and to know that whether near or far you are loved. There is no way that I would be able to call and speak with everyone that I send a card to. Yes, I could send an email or text, but believe it or not, not everyone has that capability. Especially not Ms. Alice who is celebrating her 105 Christmas.

    However, I know that many enjoy receiving the card as if receiving a gift, because they may not get one. My cards remind them that the greatest gift of all is Jesus and His love for us. I am very blessed to have or have had people in my life who have helped me, encouraged me, provided for me, cried with me or prayed for/with me. It is the least I can do but to send a card of gratitude. Whether I get one back or not never mattered to me at all, whether it is signed with an “X” or an in depth note. It is a blessing to know that someone was thinking about me enough to send it in the first place. Have a very blessed Christmas!

  7. LauraSL says:

    I send cards every year. Not everyone I send a card to sends me one. It doesn’t bother me. I send cards because I like to and it’s my thing. I can’t imagine how sending cards could cost $150 unless you’re sending them to 100s of people? I get 75 picture cards made up at Costco for about $20. So, that’s a little over $50 with postage if I mail all 75. I usually don’t mail quite a few that I give in person.

    It’s sad that with the electronic age, so many people have given up snail mail.

    • Elizabeth says:

      First-class postage is nearly 50 cents per card or letter. It adds up very quickly!

      • LauraSL says:

        Stamps are .48 and my Costco cards are .26 each, so that’s 74 cents for each card I mail. Quite a bargain to send a greeting anywhere in the continental US!

        • Elizabeth says:

          It is a bargain, yes. I just feel so much better when I know that my Christmas card budget is spent instead on a couple of holiday meals, delivered by the Boys & Girls Club, to people in need at Christmas. That makes me feel more like Christmas than sending cards 🙂

  8. ruth says:

    Funny how Christmas cards are such a sensitive subject for so many people. I have a hard time finding a good reason for Christmas cards to be elevated to such a high place of importance.

    I have a hard time picturing Jesus, the namesake of Christmas, doing Christmas cards.

    Personally I sent more in years past but now that texting and Facebook and e-mail are so common, I send fewer and fewer cards per year. Part of that is just the natural process of maturing and not caring so much what other people think of me.

    I’m an odd duck; I’m one of those people who send cards for no good reason to loved ones. I’m also an odd duck in that I never cared for the generic family update newsletter when they first started appearing sometime around, I guess, 1990’s…? I’m the only one I know that doesn’t care for them. My feeling is that if it wasn’t important enough to tell me when it happened, then why is it important now? And why make such a newsletter more than 1 page long? Do you feel that when people come home after working all day they can’t wait to sit down and read about little Mary’s Kindergarten play? Send a picture of her in the play and they will love it so much more – it’s far more likely to end up gracing their fireplace mantle.

    Whether it’s Christmas or not, if you really want to impress me, call me & say hello in person, not asking for money or favors; just call me for the sake of calling me.

    Like someone else said, why wait until Christmas to send a lovely card saying ‘thinking of you’ or what not. It should be about brightening the other person’s day which in my opinion should be a 24×7 365 state of mind.

    • GraceW says:

      I don’t think you’re an odd duck for not enjoying the generic family update letter… every year I hear about more and more people finding them distasteful. A lot of the letters read like brag lists anyway. I’ve never sent one out but I have been tempted to do one this year that reads “We did absolutely nothing of great significance in 2015 and LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.”

  9. lottie says:

    I agree with some points made by both Amy F and Elizabeth.

    When I read your post my first thoughts were it is not about receiving.

    Just imagine if one of those who never returns a card might be seriously ill. It might be the highlight of the year for some poor sole to be remembered and by YOU.Yours might be the only card they get,how sad.Pass the tissues.

    Keep sending or like Irene says do the odd prune.

    Very best wishes for Christmas to you all. Lottie

    • Elizabeth says:

      Agreed. But why wait until Christmas to send cards, or find out if a loved one is ill? There are wonderful cards out there that can be sent ANY time of the year!

      • lottie says:

        Do what you feel is best.I agree there are lovely cards. Two weeks ago I sent my oldest friend a card to say how great it was meeting up with her after not chatting for a couple of years.

        If you don’t feel like waiting for Christmas send a card for no reason only to be thoughtful and kind. Written cards are lovely to receive. You already do this. Not many people do,due to being toooooo busy,or lazy. A common excuse in this day and age.Like I have already said don’t give to receive.If you want to spread happiness do it your way,there are no rules. Best wishes. Lottie

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for posting this topic. It’s been a big debate among my friends and family on Facebook. I agree with all the reasons Irene listed above, as to why some people decide NOT to send cards. I am among the people who stopped the practice of sending holiday cards within the past few years and here is why:

    First, I started noticing that a lot of the Christmas cards I was receiving were not even hand-signed or addressed. The greetings did not seem especially heartfelt or personal, and while I know this is common practice for some businesses, this type of impersonal Christmas card seems to me to defeat the purpose of sending an annual holiday greeting. It seemed mechanical. Quite often, I received those types of unsigned cards from people I hadn’t seen or spoken with in years, or from companies I no longer do business with. They apparently forgot to remove me from the automated list.

    I should add here that I DO appreciate the hand-written cards with short notes, and even Christmas letters which took some time to write, even if they are photocopied and sent en masse. But I never felt comfortable doing that myself.

    Secondly, and most important of all, when I added up the cost of holiday cards and postage for the many people on my card list, it totaled well over $150.00. So, I decided that my favorite charities and service clubs — who take care of needy families during the holidays — could put that money to better use. So now I write those charities a donation, a nice check, instead of sending out Christmas cards.

    That said, I LOVE to send birthday cards, get-well cards, and “no reason” cards to let individual friends and family members know that I am thinking of them — throughout the year. I take time to write letters and notes, by hand, and snail mail them, when I know my friends need to hear from me. Because I do this all year, consistently, my loved ones don’t miss a Christmas card from me.

    • ruth says:

      In addition to the $150 there is the cost of one’s time to compile the cards, address the envelope and write any handwritten notes. The time cost alone can be several hours.

  11. Amy F says:

    When I send cards, I always send more than I receive. But I send them because receiving them is so much fun as is sending them. I don’t always send them, depending of external factors in my life and whether I’m in the holiday spirit. I suggest you send cards if you enjoy it, with the expectation you’ll brighten people’s days and the knowledge you may never be thanked of the gesture reciprocated. If you’re not able to do so, and that’s okay, I wouldn’t send them that year. Think of random acts of kindness,

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