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adVENT: Christmas cards and the problems that come with them

It's Christmas, in case you hadn't noticed, and while cheer, joy and goodwill to all men is being spread far and wide, everyone has a little grumble at this time of year as well. The Drum has invited some of those heading up some of the UK's finest media and marketing communications companies to share their pet hates that annoy them in their jobs at this time of year, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek.

Nicky Bullard is creative director of LIDA.

As if I haven’t got enough stress at this time of year, I have spent the last four days worrying about writing this. Here’s why.

The brief is to vent about a Christmas and sector specific thing.

My first thought was lazy retail copywriting. Because if I see another ‘Christmas all wrapped up’ headline I will blimmin’ well…but you know, I’ve probably written that in my time. Or on Jan 1st , if I receive another gym leaflet headline that reads ‘New Year, New You’, I am going to visit the sweaty establishment, scream for the manager, and tell them where to stick their door drop…oh hang on, something’s ringing a bell.

Guilty as charged.

So you can see my predicament. In this time of goodwill, I was struggling to think of something to have a pop at.

And then it happened.

As if the Star of David itself had shone down upon me, it all became clear. I was led to the humble front door, the letterbox, and the ultimate direct mail.

Christmas cards.

Here are 10 reasons why I hate them.

1. I have to write them. Mr B seems to have a terrible case of writer’s block from December 1st. It also kicks in around any family member’s birthday.

2. The glitter ones. An absolute pain in the jacksey to clear up. And someone always points out that twinkle on your eyebrow the next day. And somehow it gets in your gusset. Which is just weird.

3. The guilt. Deciding which charity cards to pick, and which not to. Actually, it’s not hard. Just go for the cheapest.

4. Having to go through the address book. Very depressing when you spot an R.I.P. next to a name (I always do this as soon as someone pegs it). But then there is that Brucey bonus in that there’s at least one less to write.

5. Plain rudeness. People forget my kids’ names and write ‘the boys’ or ‘and family’. Ok I admit that too. I’ve done it.

6. If someone new sends you one, you know they expect one back. Which

cancels out an R.I.P. Frankly annoying.

7. The Sellotape/paintwork arguments. I know it’s wrong but at least they stay up. Mr B strongly disagrees.

8. The 300 word essay cards. If you miss me that much why don’t you visit?

9. Spending eighty quid on first class stamps because you left it too late to send them second-class.

10. The mystery card from the people you don’t know. It freaks me out. Chris and Marie, who the hell are you??????

So here, in my mind, is Christmas Card best practice:

Decide on a drop date. (It’ll save you a fortune.)

Choose your cards wisely. (Make sure they are religious or entertaining, but never, ever shedding.)

Know your audience (their name helps, and that they are still alive).

Be clear about the desired response. (Don’t say ‘we must get together soon’ if you don’t mean it. I might just pop round.)

Or just don’t bother. Humbug.

Friday's adVENT was delivered by Sam Diamond, head of brand and communications for Gumtree.

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