December 2, 2009

Christmas Card Scoring / Rating System

It is December! As Marie Green twittered yesterday: "Yesterday's mail brought our first Christmas card of the year... And now we're looking down the barrel of a WHOLE MONTH of fun mail!" YES!

Well, and so it is time to review the Christmas Card Scoring System.
The C.C.S.S. (also called the H.C.S.S---Holiday Card Scoring System) is for those of us who look forward all year to receiving cards. It reflects how happy we are to receive them---and how our happiness increases when there are bonus thrill items such as photos and newsletters and prettiness. Lower scores are not bad: ANY Christmas card is a thrill to receive, and the higher scores of other cards don't make lower-scored cards look bad: 5 points is like a grade of A, and anything higher is extra credit.
  • Card received: +5
  • Card received before December 1st: -1
  • Card received after December 25th: -1
  • Card is pretty, and looks nice on wall: +3
  • Card is glittery: +1
  • Card sheds that glitter: -2
  • Card is shiny / has metallic accents: +1
  • Card does not contain card, but only letter, so there is nothing to put up on wall: -5
  • Card is e-card: -5

  • Card includes photo or is photo card: +5
  • More than one photo: +2 each additional photo
  • Photo is non-Christmassy so will look good on fridge all year: +1
  • Photo is Christmassy so increases holiday feeling of card: +1
  • Red-eye causes family to appear possessed by evil Christmas spirit: -1
  • Photo was taken on beach this past summer in summer clothing, so family looks chilly against winter pattern of card: -1
  • Photo includes dogs with glowing eyes who seem poised to eat humans: -1

  • Card includes letter: +5
  • Letter is informative and interesting: +3
  • Letter describes child as "amazing" or "already an avid reader and accomplished Suzuki violinist at age 3!": -3 each
  • Letter is so braggy and saccharine-cheery, I wonder why I associate with these people: -3
  • Letter is so very braggy and saccharine-cheery, it crosses over into comical and becomes fun to read aloud in an unkind tone of voice: +2
  • Letter uses the word "blessed" more than one time: -1 per use (not including first use)
  • Letter is a sermon/evangelism disguised as a Christmas letter, and contains pious spiritual hopes for our country, for our country's leaders, for mankind, and for me personally: -5
  • Letter mentions details of gross surgery/illness: -1 or +1, depending on entertainment value
  • Letter contains thinly-veiled family gossip: +3
  • Letter contains information that should have been told earlier: -2

  • Card includes check: +5
  • Large check: +10
  • Card includes announcement of pregnancy: +10
  • Card from Christmas Card Friends contains surprising news of baby born since last card sent: +10

This year my own card gets:
  • +5 for existing
  • +3 for being pretty
  • +5 for containing a photo
  • +2 for containing an additional photo (a Thanksgiving shot including my parents)
  • +2 for containing an additional photo (a divided photo showing 4 outtakes of the Christmas photo)
  • +1 for being a non-Christmassy photo

Some people will get just the first photo, some will get two, and some will get three---so my card will score 14, 16, or 18 points at most, with of course the 3 points for prettiness depending on the recipient.

(card available on Zazzle)


Lawyerish said...

These are my FAVORITE ones to receive: "Letter is so very braggy and saccharine-cheery, it crosses over into comical and becomes fun to read aloud in an unkind tone of voice."

One especially crappy year, my husband and I wrote a sarcastic Christmas letter that we go back and read every year, because it's actually really funny despite the tragic undertones. I still sort of wish we'd sent it out.

Jana said...

Love your rating system! But now you have me rethinking our choice of family photo since it was taken over the summer....

SarahO said...

Awww...I should have reviewed the scoring system before sending my cards out. I'm only a 13. Bummer.

Tracy H. said...

I can't wait to start receiving cards so I can start the scoring! I love your system!

Firegirl said...

Wonder Twin Powers Unite! I just blogged about cards as well. Of course, I love yours more. (:-D

Sally said...

Can we see it? Can we see it? Huh? Huh? Can we please?!?

Whimsy said...


I'm excited.

Also: I'm giving myself +30 points for even **considering** a Christmas card this year. I've just never been able to get my act together to get it done. We'll see how it goes in the next week - if I don't get it off the ground before then, I'm giving up for another year.

DCMomma said...


I've gotten 3 so far....


Jess said...

Oh dear. Must score own cards. Also, must purchase own cards to send out reciprocally, because I have already heard that I am receiving cards from people I didn't send cards to, and used up all my cards in first round. But really: good excuse to buy more fun cards!

Nowheymama said...

Do we get so see your Christmas pictures? And what if the family lives in a warm climate year round? Beach photo still unacceptable?

Our all-time favorite card was written when I was in college by the college-age son of friends of ours. It began: "This year, my dad bought a horse, and my mom had a cow." Classic.

Leah said...

Oh I LOVE this. I have like 100 cards to send, and get about that many as well. Perhaps using this system will help me not go completely BATSHIT CRAZY.

Becky said...

We are scoring a 14 (I think...pretty can be subjective). I do have a question, though. We are sending postcards, which we will write a note on, but not a full letter (we aren't that interesting). Does that count as a "letter" with all the plusses and minuses that go with it, or does it not? Is there negative points for not having a letter at all?

Jen said...

Ours would get a 14, assuming they get the subjective "pretty" points. I don't think I've ever gotten one so braggy it was comical. I want one of those this year.

Verification word is prowlsit. Is that some sort of attempt at oxymoronic humor Blogger?

Sarah said...

This just cracked me up! Now I have to reevaluate my card idea. What if the card is SHINY, not glittery?

You know, if I include a letter, I could totally clean up on this Christmas contest. . .

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Oh wow! I wrote my cards last weekend, but was waiting to send them out. But perhaps people would be ready to receive them? Maybe I'll drop them in the mail on Friday so they'll arrive next week, that would be good timing I think.

I just send random cards, everyone gets different ones. I don't have kids or anything, so it's just a nice little message that I'm thinking of the person.

Swistle said...

Nowheymama- Family in year-round warm climate won't lose a point for a beach photo IF their card is also warm-climate-like. That is, if the card shows snow and evergreens, the people will still look chilly in that context and will lose a point. But only one point.

Becky- I think it's only a letter if it's one of those 8.5x11 sheets covered in text. No points lost for no letter.

Sarah- Ooo, you're right, shiny should get a point. I'll go fix it.

zoot said...

I totally want to send you a card b/c it has THREE photos, and it includes a funny letter that references my own childhood tendency to score soccer goals for the OTHER TEAM! I would score major points with your system.

HollyLynne said...

Card received: +5
Card is pretty, and looks nice on wall: +3
Card includes photo or is photo card: +5
More than one photo: +2
Photo is Christmassy so increases holiday feeling of card: +1
Card includes announcement of pregnancy: +10 I’m giving myself half credit for this, because while it wasn’t phrased as an “announcement” I am OBVOIUSLY pregnant in the picture and we signed our unborn baby’s nickname.


Miss Grace said...

This is the first year in MANY that I'm skipping xmas cards. In favor of yknow, milk or whatever.

But still! I am overwhelmed with angst about my non-card sending ways. Will friends cut me off of their lists??

(For the record, since I've had Gabe, I've done a photo card - I love photo cards)

Marie Green said...

Ok, so I got my Grandma's (not my cool grandma, but the other one) Christmas card with her annual letter.

Every year, she sends out a single-spaced, no margins, two sided, typed on a typewriter, letter that has things like "21st- snowed. Called Glen to shovel. Brr! Thanks Glen!"

Um. I'm not even kidding.

I had to take 2 pee brakes, but I finally got through the whole letter.

She gets +20 points because it's so awful it's AWESOME, but looses 15 points because our family wasn't mentioned at all this year, and I like to see at least one "dinner with Marie Green. Good food! So fun to see those girls! Thanks Marie".

She also lost 3 points for misspellings and 2 points for not completely filling the second side.

So, a zero.

Her's is favorite AND most dreaded card/letter to receive!

Marie Green said...

Also, thanks for the linky!

Christina said...

Coincedentally we got our first card today, which I was SUPER excited about b/c I got an awesome card holder from a Freecycler and was dying to use it!! It had a Save the Date card it in for their March wedding, so it had super + points! Love weddings! :)

So glad I'm not the only one that reads the bragging letters outloud in a semi-evil, snarky tone. It's just too damn easy. Esp. the relatives that don't even HAVE kids, so they just brag about themselves. Also, always subtract points for the cards that drop sparkles everywhere- that is the WORST!

I hope we get to see your pics soon! The outtakes idea sounds hysterical. My mom gave up on my brother one year and did that - I was sitting there smiling and he's in the background w/ his mouth open and eyes mid-blink. It was a good 7 or 8 yrs ago and ppl still laugh about it and have it on their fridge!

Stephanie Sharples Francis said...

BUT! What if we are PLANNING to send our cards out in January, like on purpose? Does that lose points? (My husband comes back from deployment in Jan so I'm planning the card to be a photo (plus points!) of our reunion.) That's okay, right?

(I know it's only one point lost for after Dec 25 arrivals, but I am very competitive and so I need a waiver. Fortunately I read your rating system BEFORE producing cards, so I have an advantage as I can do everything that will gain me points.)

Swistle said...

Stephanie- That's a tricky one. Hm hm hm. Hm. Hm hm. No, I think you still lose the point for sending the card when the holiday is over and all the holiday stuff is looking grim. But perhaps we can find a way to ADD a point for some other thing? Oh! Oh oh I know! +1 point for photos of touching reunions!

Marie Green said...

Swistle and Stephanie: what about if Stephanie does a New Year's Card? Perhaps that would qualify for a waiver?

Swistle said...

Marie- YES. Yes, that would work! New Year cards are awesome, and a reunion photo is such a nice way to welcome a new year! And then she could add that she hoped they'd had a wonderful holiday. Yes. That is the solution.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I'm not sure what my scoring would be. We do a bookmark instead of a card and at various times throughout the year I've seen people using it so that always makes me feel good.

Favorite annoying card of recent years: when a boss sent a card bragging that he and his wife had read a Pulitzer prize-winning book.

Kelly said...

I love it!
love the 3rd section about the bragginess and the blessedness. ROTF!!

stephanie said...

FUN! This is my first year w/ a photo card... YAY FOR BABIES!!

Let's see...

+5 for existing
+3 is pretty (IT IS)
+5 photo card
+1 non-Christmassy

Dang. I thought I'd get more points. Oh well. It's my first try.

Angie said...

I love this. Do you mind if I copy this with credit to you and a link back to this from my blog?

And, my own card is only 14 pts, but the our first card received is a 34!

Sam said...

1. I have your address
2. I am going to pick up Christmas photo cards tomorrow.
3. I have the secret scoring list now.
4. Bwahahahah I am going to have fun making up a card for you.
5. Which means you will finally get your postcards from TX.

Jessica said...

OMG I love you!

Kristi said...

E-card is only -5? Me thinks not.

JEN said...

This is fantastic and so, so true!

Kim said...

Is it pathetic our cards always include a picture of us and/or the dog with no kids?
I'm thinking kinda.

Tess said...

Card received +5
Card is pretty +3
This is only our fourth Christmas card/letter to the WHOLE family, but I think we did pretty well. Here is how we scored:

Card is shiny +1
Card includes photo +5
Photo is Christmassy +1
Card includes letter +5
Letter is informative and interesting +3 (I think so!)
Card includes surprising news of baby born since last card +5 (I am giving myself half-points for this; we found out the sex of our baby due in March; boy!)

Total: 24 points

I love this; thanks for sharing Swistle!

Swistle said...

Kim- HEAVENS NO. I want photos of EVERYONE. And in fact, I think it's a little pitiful when people think it's not worth it to send photos if they don't have kids.

Shelly said...

Swistle - I love your scoring system.

Sitting on the mood swing at the playground - I snorted out loud when I read about your boss bragging that he had read a Pulitzer winner. One book?! He was bragging about reading one book? That is pathetic.

jiveturkey said...

I live for the Christmas letters - LIVE FOR THEM! We got one last year that contained the phrase (and I AM NOT IN ANY WAY PARAPHRASING OR EXAGGERATING): "This was another December with rectal bleeding."

I can you...there is just no topping that.

shriek house said...

Ok, but what if you're seriously squeezed for cash this year and really can't afford to print everything up plus the price of all those stamps? If most people know your situation, and it's an anomalous one, can you be forgiven for doing e-cards just this one year? Or should you just not do anything?

I think I know the answer to this already...

Elizabeth said...

I look forward to this post every year, but I want credit for my fancy monogram address labels that match the card. No? Maybe I get DEDUCTED points for my address label showi off ness.

Swistle said...

Shriek house- Well, if you do an e-card, you don't end up in the red: you just lose the 5 points.

Swistle said...

Elizabeth: +1 for pretty address labels.

Bronwyn said...

Hm. Looks like I may be sitting at 13 points with my cards, this year.

I just don't have it in me to send a letter.

Not yet, anyway. I'm growing into this Barbara Billingsly thing one step at a time.

Bronwyn said...

What's the score for somewhat attractive but somewhat generic address labels that came as part of your Smithsonian Christmas card order?

Farrell said...

You are funny.
I may have said this last year, but I CANNOT STAND the letters! any of them, actually. And my aunt always goes on and on about her one son who is BORING and says maybe ONE sentence about the other son who is out TRAVELING THE WORLD. But he is the "rebel" son so she keeps it short, even though he is CLEARLY the more interesting child.

Katie said...

My husband's grandma does a hideous letter every year that raves on and on about her one granddaughter coming to sleep over one night, and doesn't mention when the rest of us are having children or getting art work published in magazines or acting in off-Broadway plays. It is definitely a good time for the comedic value.

She also signs all cards "Grandmother", with no "love" or anything. Literally JUST Grandmother. The letters are signed "Joan", though, because heaven forbid she differentiate between family and friend letters.

Love it.

Must score my card once it is finished. And then give myself extra points if they actually get sent out.

P.S. Just discovered your blog this morning and I am in LOVE reading all your old posts. Can't wait to read more. I've managed to not do an ounce of work this morning and now it is lunchtime. I'll be sure to point my boss in your direction if she's wondering why I'm not getting anything done for the next while.

Marie Green said...

Swistle- that "Tess" that commented above... that's not OUR Tess, is it? I'm having a friggin heart attack over here. And I don't want to ask her... or she yell at me for being a "SKIMMAH!" (Kidding about the yelling.)

Swistle said...

Marie- Ha! Wouldn't THAT be funny? I'll go email her.

Tess said...

Dude, you ARE totally a skimmah because remember that one time I had an INTERUTERINE DEVICE installed? INTERUTERINE-ally? Like two weeks ago?

Still: AWW and thanks for wondering-slash-caring and also *tiny warming of the cockles* at making a cameo in Swistle's comments.



Stimey said...

I love this. Just love it.

icanhasyarn said...

Found this because a friend shared it. Anyway, I subtract points for photo cards that only include the kids or pets, and do not include the friends that I actually care about. All kids look pretty much alike to me.

Cat said...

I get a 20! Yay! This is hilarious and awesome.

Kelsey said...

We are getting around to the cards late this year because of vacation, but ever since I first read about your scoring system I get a tiny bit paranoid about the points we'll receive. :-)

LOVE this post.

Daisy said...

We have a family friend that has a letter that is so...over the top....that I anticipate its arrival every year. The letter goes on for at LEAST 3 pages.

The best part is that one of the family member's names is Jesus. Can't make that up! Every year I slowly and deliberately read Jesus' Christmas letter aloud with dramatic pauses.

Ocean said...

A friend posted this on Facebook and I love it. Will you please, please put a photo on it so I can put it on Pinterest?

Swistle said...

Ocean- You got it!

Paula said...

I just noticed this blog and this was SO fun! I love cards of all kinds but unfortunately don't receive many.
All my cards are hand crafted from my own designs. How many points does that rate?