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The Slacker's Guide to Christmas Card List Nirvana

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If you’re anything like me then maintaining a Christmas card list is a chore, not a pleasure, that rears its ugly head every December … and I never learn from it. Until now.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create an easy way to ensure that – without fail – you remember to send cards to all of the people on your Christmas card list.


The Problem

My wife saves all of the Christmas cards that have been sent to us, from the previous year. She’ll then use these to remind to whom we need to send cards.

It’s a method that works, after a fashion, though it’s not without fault. If you didn’t send us a card, last Christmas, you’ve immediately dropped off our Christmas card list.

Some might say this is a good thing, though it may not be what is intended – and it’s not great for keeping in touch with friends.


Preparation is the Key

This stage is likely to make or break the experience for you. If you, like me, are fastidious about keeping your Contacts information up-to-date, then this stage will be a breeze.

If, like my wife, you only record a person’s first name and their mobile number or email – and not their real-world address – then this stage is going to take you a little more time.

It’s worth spending some time updating all of your contacts so dig out your Filofax and all those scraps of paper and get your Contacts up-to-date.

Tip: Each time you enter contact details for a new contact, ensure that you enter details as comprehensively as possible. Keeping your Contacts up-to-date, requiring time little and often, is easier than having to spend a large chunk of time getting them into shape.


Contacts

If your Contacts information does not contain addresses, complete that information now before continuing.

Rather than trying to create address labels in Pages, or Microsoft Word, I am going to get the Contacts app to do the hard work for me.


Your Literal Christmas Card List

Figuratively speaking, it is often said that someone is added, or removed, from one’s Christmas card list if they have done something that you like, or dislike.

I’m making that figurative list literal. I’m creating a dedicated Christmas card list in Contacts.

Step 1. Open the Contacts App

Open up the Contacts app
Open up the Contacts app

Click on the Contacts app icon in the dock. Alternatively, press Command Space to reveal the Spotlight search window and type Contacts then press Return to launch the app.

Step 2. Set the Display Mode

If you are using OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, ensure that Contacts is displaying in the three-column mode by clicking on the Set Display Mode icon located at the bottom of the app. If you are using OS X 10.9 Mavericks, you should already see three columns.

The three columns that you will see, from left to right, are Groups of cards – such as iCloud and Smart Groups, a list of contact names and any selected contact card itself.

Step 3. Create a Christmas Card List

Creating your Christmas card list group in Contacts app
Creating your Christmas card list group in Contacts app

Navigate to Contacts > File > New Group or press Shift Command N to create a new contacts group.

This will create a new group called untitled group ready for you to name. I called mine Xmas Card List on the basis that this will be listed at the bottom of the alphabetical list of contact groups that I have already created. You may call yours Christmas Card List or anything else that you deem appropriate.

Step 4. Add People to Your List

Selecting contacts to add to your Christmas card list
Selecting contacts to add to your Christmas card list

In the contact groups section, on the left hand side, select All Contacts to list every contact in your address book.

In the central column, scroll down your list of contacts and select those to whom you wish to send a Christmas card. Click and hold the desired contact to drag and drop the contact onto your new Xmas Card List group.

Tip: It is possible to select multiple contacts by holding down Command when you click on each contact. You can then drag and drop a number of selected contacts to the new Xmas Card List group.

Step 5. Review Your List

Review your Christmas card list
Review your Christmas card list to check all details are as expected

In the contact groups section, on the left side, select Xmas Card List to list every contact in your Christmas card list. Scroll through and review that you have the correct contacts and that each contact has a completed postal address.


Print Envelopes

Step 1. Open the Print Dialogue Window

The Print dialogue window
The Print dialogue window

Ensuring that the Xmas Card List is selected, navigate to Contacts > File > Print or press Command P to bring up the print dialogue window.

Step 2. Reveal More Options

Select the Show Details button at the bottom of the dialogue window to reveal more options.

Check that you have the correct printer selected. Presets should be Default Settings. Select the number of Copies you’d like – probably just one – and Pages will be All.

Step 3. Select Your Envelope Size

Select the standard envelope size
Select the standard envelope size from the Print dialogue window

From the drop down list, select Contacts. From the Style drop down list select Envelopes. Select the Layout button and navigate to the standard size envelopes that you are using.

Tip: If you are using non-standard size envelopes, you will be able to define the dimensions of that envelope in this dialogue window.

This process assumes that all of your envelopes are of the same size. If they are not, you will need to repeat the process in batches for each different size of envelope. I suggest that you buy Christmas cards all of the same size to save time.

Step 4. Print Your Envelopes

Follow the instructions, for your printer, as to how to insert the envelopes and then press the Print button in the dialogue window.

Tip: You may wish to print a single test envelope to ensure that you have inserted it in the correct orientation for your printer.


Print Labels

Step 1. Open the Print Dialogue Window

The Print dialogue window
The Print dialogue window

Ensuring that the Xmas Card List is selected, navigate to Contacts > File > Print or press Command P to bring up the print dialogue window.

Step 2. Reveal More Options

Select the Show Details button at the bottom of the dialogue window to reveal more options.

Check that you have the correct printer selected. Presets should be Default Settings. Select the number of Copies you’d like – probably just one – and Pages will be All.

From the drop down list, select Contacts. From the Style drop down list select Mailing Labels.

Step 3. Select Your Mailing Label Size

Select your mailing labels
Select your mailing labels standard size from the Print dialogue window

Select the Layout button and then the Page type which, in my case, is Avery A4. If you are using Avery or Dymo labels, the different label codes can be selected from the adjacent drop down list. Check the label code on the box of labels that you are using.

Step 4. Print Your Mailing Labels

Follow the instructions for your printer, as to how to insert the mailing labels and then press the Print button in the dialogue window.

Tip: You may wish to print a single sheet of normal paper to ensure that you have inserted it in the correct orientation for your printer. Compare this with a sheet of mailing labels before printing your labels.


Customising the Font

Customise the font
Customise the font if you prefer to have a handwriting-style font on labels or envelopes

Whether you are printing directly onto envelopes or onto mailing labels, by clicking the Label button (adjacent to the Layout button) you can define the font being used for the labels.

Using the font inspector to change the font
Using the font inspector to change the font

The default is Lucida Grande. To change this to a handwriting-style font, say, select the Set… button to reveal the font inspector window.

Select your desired font, for example English > Handwriting - Dakota for a handwritten-style font.


Print an Aide-Memoire

If you would just like to print a list of people to whom you need to send Christmas cards, follow the instructions to print mailing labels and simply print the document to a piece of paper or a PDF file.

You may then refer to this if you prefer to handwrite all of your envelopes.


Remove People From Your Christmas Card List

Now that you have a literal Christmas card list, when you make new friends you can add them to your list.

Of course, if someone upsets you, removing them from your Christmas card list is no longer just a metaphor. I hope that this will not be necessary, for you, though.

To remove a contact from your Christmas card list, select that contact then navigate to Edit > Remove From Group. This will not delete the contact, it will simply remove it from your Christmas card list.

Removing a contact card
Sometimes you just have to break all contact with someone and not just remove them from your Christmas card list

Sometimes, something happens that means you wish to delete your contact and not just take them off your Christmas card list. To do delete the contact, navigate to Edit > Delete Card or secondary-click on the card and select Delete Card from the context menu.


Conclusion

In this tutorial I have shown you how to use the Contacts app to your advantage. By creating a dedicated list of contacts, for a particular purpose, you can save time when it comes to posting out a number of Christmas cards.

I have shown you how to print direct to envelopes, to mailing labels to be used on envelopes and to a piece of paper or PDF file so that you can use your Christmas card list to ensure that all of your friends receive a card. Happy Christmas!

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