Buttoned Up: Take the craziness out of holiday-card time

Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore

Avoid the holiday-card madness and get ahead while you can. In one week you can take seven simple steps — one a day — that will get you well ahead of the game.

Day 1: Make Your Master List

Make a list of all the people you will be sending holiday cards to this season. You don't have to worry about their addresses yet. (You'll do that tomorrow.) Today, just come up with everyone who should be on the list. If you can, set up a file on your computer and keep the list there. If you're a pencil-and-paper type, don't just scribble on any old scrap — set aside a special notebook or nice, clean paper that you can save in a folder.

Your goal is to create a master list that you can use year after year after year.

Day 2: Organize Addresses, Part I

Today, go on a hunt for the addresses for the first half of the people on your list and put the address next to each name on your sheet (virtual or paper). If you don't have someone's mailing address, you might want to email, text, Facebook message, tweet or call them TODAY and ask them to send it to you.

Day 3: Organize Addresses, Part II

As you did yesterday, go hunt for the addresses of the people on your list — this time for the people on the second half of the list. Again, put the address next to each name on your sheet. Make sure you try to contact folks to get missing addresses.

Do not go to bed until this task is completely D-O-N-E. You will thank yourself a million times for having done this!

Day 4: Take a Family Photo and Upload It

Gather your family (or just your kids, dogs, cats, whatever you usually photograph) and get that photo taken today. If it's a nice day, take the picture on your front steps or elsewhere outside. If it's raining, take the picture indoors. Snap away until you get one with everybody smiling.

When you're done, upload all the pictures to your computer and organize them in a folder titled "Holiday Card 2012"

Day 5: Edit the Photo and Upload It to a Digital Card Provider

Get rid of "red eye" and fix any other issues you might have with your best photo, then upload the final image to an online photo-card provider like Tiny Prints or Shutterfly. If you don't yet have an account, set one up. It takes maybe two seconds.

Or you can ...

Day 6: Pick Out Five Card Templates You Like

Set aside 30 or so minutes today just to go shopping for some holiday-card layouts. Mark the ones you like as favorites so that you can compare them side-by-side. Winnow your selects down to five.

Day 7: Pick a Winner and Order

Play around with personalizing the five cards you have selected with the photo(s) you uploaded. Decide on your favorite look and order the cards. You might also want to consider adding an order of return-address label stickers — it's so easy to slap those on the envelope — and people who are on the receiving end love them, too, as it makes organizing holiday-card lists much easier.

That was easy, right? Once you get delivery of your cards, divide them into five groups. Write a quick note, address and stamp the cards for one group each night.

The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife@getbuttonedup.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.