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Do you accelerate out added anniversary cards than you get back? As below bodies accelerate anniversary cards, the acreage of anniversary agenda studies isn’t what it already was. But actuality are some nuts from accomplished research:

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— Target bodies who are 35 to 54 years old. That’s the demographic best acceptable to accelerate out cards, according to 2012 abstracts from the U.S. Postal Service. Those with college incomes are additionally added acceptable to accelerate cards.

— Accommodate a handwritten note. The bodies who accept your cards will acquisition them abundant added allusive if you accommodate a claimed bulletin that’s at atomic 25 words long, according to a 2004 abstraction appear in the Journal of Social and Claimed Relationships. Interestingly, preprinted ancestors newsletters weren’t brash any added allusive than all-encompassing cards.

— Ditch the printed labels. Envelopes addressed by duke are three times as acceptable to be opened as ones with computer-generated labels, according to a 1986 abstraction in the Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing.

— Don’t skimp on your cards. In a 1976 study, psychologists at Brigham Adolescent University beatific Christmas cards to 578 strangers in the Chicago area. Bisected got bargain cards, and the added bisected got nice ones. The high-quality cards accustomed about bifold the response.

I absolutely charge to get rid of my piano. For one thing, I don’t apperceive how to comedy it and neither does my boyfriend. But alike if we did, this accurate apparatus wouldn’t be of abundant use. Peel up the keyboard awning and you’ll acquisition an ivory smile that’s yellowed and chipped, with a fluctuant accentuation that’s beeline out of an old-time western saloon. The abandoned acumen I’ve kept it about is because it’s the absolute abode to affectation the bags of Christmas cards that clog my mailbox every December.

That’s the dream, anyway. In reality, I get abandoned about 14 cards a year—a sad accompaniment of affairs, aback I accelerate out aing to 150. Every December, I alpha coursing through my mail, aperture envelopes in the achievement of seeing admirable pictures of my accompany and their children. Atticus and Sophia? Harper and Isabella? Regardless, I about consistently appear abroad from the mailbox disappointed.

I accomplished that the bearings had become unbearably affecting when, aftermost year, I started added out my anniversary agenda affectation with L.L. Bean catalogues. I had hoped my card-covered piano would be a hearth, abating me through the winter with the bright faces of admired ones. Instead, it wanly appropriate I buy absolute socks.

So this year I accumulated a aggregation of top-shelf experts to advance my anniversary agenda acknowledgment rate: leaders in their fields, bodies who biking the country giving talks and alarming success. Bodies who, absolutely frankly, could architect my eyes of anniversary joy.

My aboriginal arrangement was at the Arlington, Virginia, home of mail adviser Hal Malchow, who has brash every Democratic presidential appointee from Michael Dukakis to John Kerry. Semi-retired, he now works with nonprofit groups and writes fantasy novels with his son.

When I agape on Hal’s door, it triggered what articulate like a abundant struggle. Barks, shouts, the abrasion of claws on wood. And afresh a silver-haired man appeared at the aperture and let me in.

Glancing nervously up the stairs, I sat bottomward on a white couch and began answer my anniversary agenda problem. Hal disconnected my sad tale.

“I accept a activity for you, but first, let me accord you a little background,” he said, ablution into a adventure about aborigine assembly in New Jersey.

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Ahead of the 2009 gubernatorial election, Hal beatific out abandoned belletrist to 11,000 association advertisement which elections they had voted in and which they had missed, a bulk of accessible record. The belletrist assured by saying, “We achievement to be able to acknowledge you in the approaching for actuality the affectionate of aborigine who makes our capitalism work.”

The charge added aborigine assembly by 2.5 allotment points, an alarming boost, he said. This “social pressure” abode was abounding times added able than annihilation he’d approved before, including sending acknowledgment bales to bodies with accomplished voting annal and praising their charge to democracy.

“What works is not talking to a aborigine about their ethics or affectionate duty, but acclamation a voter’s vanity,” he concluded.

“So how do I administer that to Christmas cards?” I asked.

“Write to all the bodies on your account and say, ‘I adore sending you Christmas cards every year, and one activity that has afraid me is how abounding bodies don’t accelerate any back. So I’d like to do profiles of those bodies afterwards this Christmas season. Would it be accept if I alleged you for an interview?’ I bet your cardinal of Christmas cards would access substantially.”

“All my accompany would abhorrence me if I did that,” I said.

“I anticipation you capital added Christmas cards.”

Hal offered added tips adopted from direct-mail research: Hand-addressed belletrist are opened added than ones with printed labels. White envelopes do bigger than colored, and abounding direct-mail experts affirm by agee stamps because they attending as if they were activated by hand.

I could additionally use what’s accepted as a “call to action.”

“Write article like, ‘I’d adulation to apprehend from you,’ and accommodate a stamp,” Hal said, the way nonprofits generally accelerate forth little gifts, such as charge labels, aback allurement you for a donation.

“But none of those things will assignment anywhere a as able-bodied as a social-pressure mailing,” he said.

As I larboard the mail expert’s house, I absitively my aing babble should be with an able on … people. I didn’t appetite to ache relationships aloof to get a piano abounding of cards, but I couldn’t admonition but wonder: Do accompany still calculation as accompany if you never apprehend from them?

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My anniversary agenda attraction began aloof a few years ago, aback my acquaintance Lea recruited me to admonition her aces out a photo for her family’s card. Like me, Lea is Jewish. “I apperceive it’s weird,” I anamnesis her saying, “but I appetite to do one anyway.”

It didn’t bang me as weird. For as connected as I can remember, I’ve accepted Christmas as a abundant alibi to do all my admired things: eat cookies, go to parties and sing in public. Admitting I’d never beatific out cards before, I had fabricated wreaths and led caroling groups. We don’t allocution about it much, but I apperceive there are affluence of added Christmas-loving Jews out there. One morning, while caroling at a nursing home, I forgot the words to “Silent Night.”

“I’m Jewish,” I aside conspiratorially to the woman aing to me.

“Me, too,” she said with a accusable giggle.

When I got Lea’s anniversary agenda in the mail that year, it afire in me a charge I never knew I had. I didn’t appraise my action at the time, but I now doubtable that, as my accompany were accepting affiliated and accepting kids, I was activity larboard out.

With a photo from a scuba-diving vacation Steve and I had taken in the Caribbean, I fabricated my aboriginal agenda and beatific it to 50 extensive friends. The aing year, the agenda featured a photo of us in Africa continuing alarmingly aing to a agrarian elephant, and my charge account to my (largely Jewish) ancestors as able-bodied as Steve’s (mostly Christian) ancestors grew. We connected demography abundant vacations and sending anniversary cards to an ever-expanding list. Pretty soon, my agenda operation had exploded into a multi-day affair, and I spent abounding an agreeable black signing cards and afraid on abode labels.

I was accepting so abundant fun, I had yet to apprehension my poor acknowledgment rate. But aback I did, I alleged my dad in Florida to get acumen into the origins of my anniversary agenda madness.

“We never beatific out anniversary cards aback I was growing up, right?” I said.

“Actually, we did do them for a few years appropriate afterwards you were born,” he said. “But afresh I anticipate we got too busy, activity to law school, accepting two kids and aggregate like that.”

Since I was too adolescent to bethink my parents’ aboriginal attack into anniversary cards, my dad appropriate that my adulation of accumulation mailings ability appear from a lifetime of “volunteering” for nonprofits. Some of my ancient adolescence memories are of tagging forth with him and capacity envelopes for the Sierra Club or some burghal board candidate. I affected to accuse about the affected labor, but I secretly admired sitting about agenda tables awash with active strangers and accession adulation on my (still formidable) stamp-sticking speed.

Perhaps this is why, aback faced with a blah anniversary agenda response, my aboriginal aptitude was to alarm a political consultant.

Hal’s ideas—and my abhorrence to apparatus them—made me apprehend that I bare to define what I hoped to get out of all this. So I looked up Bethesda, Maryland-based therapist Andrea Bonior. In accession to penning a account admonition cavalcade for the Washington Post Express, she has accounting “The Accord Fix: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Losing, and Befitting Up With Your Friends.”

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“ ‘Why am I accomplishing this?’ is consistently a acceptable catechism to ask,” Andrea said.

I started talking. Predictably, I concluded up on the accountable of my childhood, aback I was badly unpopular. Sitting abandoned on the bus or in the cafeteria, I’d asperse myself in “The Baby-Sitters Club” novels, a alternation that actual a bunch of middle-school girls. Accepting a accumulation of accompany like that was my angel fantasy, one that I wasn’t able to accomplish appear until center through aerial school.

“I’m aggravating to accomplish up for it now by accepting lots of friends,” I said. “I anticipate I ability be application my piano as array of a accord bays case.”

The affliction part, I said, is that it wasn’t alike working. “Maybe no one brand me afterwards all,” I said, bedlam nervously.

People aloof aren’t sending cards abundant these days, Andrea said. “With anybody befitting up on Facebook, sending cards aloof seems redundant.”

I agreed that anniversary cards and Facebook do assume to serve the aforementioned purpose. They both present arcadian pictures of our lives to anyone who cares abundant to look. “It’s like we’ve all become managers of our own claimed brands,” I said.

Among my piano-display of agleam cards, there’s consistently one agenda that sticks out, like a burned-out ablaze on the Christmas tree. It’s from Steve’s grandmother, and it’s a all-encompassing store-bought agenda with a few curve of acceptable wishes from Wisconsin accounting inside. Mildly affronted it doesn’t go with the others, I usually coffin her agenda below someone’s photogenic family.

“I’m seeing now that Grandma’s all-encompassing agenda is absolutely the best one, because it’s about our accord instead of actuality all about her,” I said.

“It’s important for us to bethink the absolute affiliation comes with absolutely interacting with the person, not spamming them with this admirable bright agenda assuming how attractive our ancestors is,” Andrea said.

But how would I acquisition the time to abode claimed addendum to 150 people?

“Maybe you charge to carve bottomward your list,” she said.

“I could alike accomplish cards,” I said, cerebration of all the fun I ability accept with ability supplies.

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If I put all that accomplishment into my cards, however, it’d be alike worse if no one beatific their own back!

The therapist acclaim able me for that likelihood—after all, my Jewish accompany and ancestors apparently don’t accelerate cards to anyone. Perhaps aloof autograph ardent cards could tap into that balmy anniversary activity I so craved, she said.

I wasn’t so sure, but I thanked her for her help, and I promised to accelerate her a card.

“I can’t agreement I’ll get about to sending you one back,” she said, laughing.

Chagrined, I mentally beyond her off my list.

At home, I opened up my abode spreadsheet and took a analytical attending at my list. The after-effects weren’t surprising: About bisected of the bodies I accelerate anniversary cards are Jewish, and they represent a asymmetric cardinal of my deadbeats.

I had anticipation my cards amid all winter holidays, but bisected my account didn’t assume to see it that way. Solving my botheration would be absurd if I couldn’t get my adolescent Jews onboard.

So I absitively to argue a rabbi.

As I absolved to the Sixth and I Historic Abbey in Washington, my abdomen aerated with anxiety. I hadn’t been to temple, let abandoned met with a rabbi, aback my bat mitzvah. It helped that this accurate abbey additionally doubles as a civil concert venue, area I’d abounding shows. Aback a aegis bouncer ushered me into Sixth and I’s “greeting room,” I was afraid that the walls were lined not with Jewish ephemera but covered by active bandage posters.

When Clergyman Scott Perlo arrived—his albino curls spilling out from beneath a dejected kippah—I acclaimed that he, like the allowance we were in, didn’t attending decidedly Jewish.

“Did you apprehend that I’d accept a connected bristles or something?” he said.

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“No, no,” I backpedaled, admitting I affectionate of did. Pressing on, I explained my problem.

“I am added than a little conflicted about the abstraction of allowance you argue ample masses of Jews to accelerate out cards about Christmastime,” Clergyman Scott said.

After all, he said, the aing anniversary to Christmas is Hanukkah, a celebration of a moment aback religious Jews resisted ascendancy by a civil government. They fought a war, reclaimed their temple and lit the menorah with the baby bulk of oil they could find. Sending out Hanukkah greetings modeled on Christmas cards would assume to absence the point of a anniversary that’s about angry for the appropriate to advance your Jewish identity, the clergyman noted.

Nodding thoughtfully, I brought the chat aback to my applied goal.

“A mail adviser appropriate that I try to answerability bodies into responding to me,” I said.

“That guy is an angry Machiavellian genius, but I anticipate you should action a allotment instead of a stick.”

Guilt is a Jewish tradition, but it works abandoned in the abbreviate term, he said. To get added cards, I should action article in return.

“I could accomplish a collage of all the cards I get and accelerate anybody a copy.”

“That’s a abundant idea,” said Clergyman Scott. “For you, it feels absolutely allusive to accelerate these Christmas cards, and you’re allurement bodies to accompany in the ritual. You appetite them to accept your experience, not the acquaintance of activity accusable because they didn’t accelerate cards this year.”

He brash his own counsel.

“It’s aberrant you’re talking to a clergyman about that,” he added.

But of all my experts, it was the rabbi’s admonition I absitively to take. Turning the few cards I got into a collage ability abduction what I sought: a little community, all demography a moment out of our active lives to do article together. I would additionally assignment in the psychologist’s admonition and accomplish the exercise about relationships. Instead of bombarding anybody I apperceive with bright photos assuming off my campaign with Steve, I’d carve bottomward my account and accommodate nice, long, handwritten notes. I ability alike accomplish some cards by hand.

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There’s a acceptable adventitious none of this will work—that the anniversary cards I accept will eventually abate to nothing. If so, it’ll apparently feel as if I’m abandoned afresh in my elementary academy cafeteria. But thankfully, I’m not ashore there anymore. If none of my accompany acknowledge to my cards this year, I can consistently aloof accord them a call.

And if they don’t aces up, I’ll argue a telemarketer.

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