Don’t be silly, of course I’m going to send cards this Christmas. Life is gloomy enough already with Covid threatening to reduce our annual celebrations to a forlorn plate of turkey twizzlers and a lonely slice of chocolate log. Sure, I do send fewer than I used to but it’s my way of telling people far away that I still love and cherish them.

And anyhow, not sending any cards really hits charities who rely on the income. But we need to think about what kind of cards we send.

So charity cards are good, better still buy recyclable charity cards direct from the charity and avoid card shops and supermarkets who absorb much of the profit.

But you know all that, and you know to look for the FSC logo, don’t you? Approval from the Forest Stewardship Council should reassure you that the card is from an approved source, shouldn’t it? Ho hum.

It should reassure you… it should…

Survival International, where I usually get my beautiful cards, don’t actually credit the FSC any more – in spite of the fact that the card they use is fully certified. This is because of a shocking discovery by Greenpeace. Briefly, a logging company (Rougier) is chopping down a vast area of rainforest in southeast Cameroon. They are doing this as an official partner of the World Wildlife Fund (ironic, huh?) and crucially, without the consent of local Baka “Pygmies” who have lived there in harmony with the forest for centuries. In other words, they are destroying the home of a tribal people.

And because of their partnership with the WWF, Rougier can use the WWF Panda logo and is FSC certified. Clever, eh?

I don’t think Survival will mind me nicking this image from their website if it encourages you to shop there… they really do sell the most ravishing cards around, and it’s an amazing charity that was founded by Robin Hanbury-Tenison to protect indigenous peoples. The artist who took this wonderful photo is Yuliya Vassilyeva.

Beware greenwashing. Yes, beware greenwashing.

But if you’re happy with the ethics of your chosen supplier and you accept FSC certification, look for FSC 100% or FSC recycled – there’s a lot more information here if you want to find out the whys and the wherefores.

Secondly, avoid cards with embellishments – ribbons, badges, glitter – all these make it FAR more difficult to recycle. Really, is anyone going to sit at home in January taking off the bits and bobs? Yeah, I might, but then I’m obsessive!

Next, avoid cards with batteries. Batteries are the devil (I’ve written about them before). And do you honestly think your cousin’s Yuletide is improved by hearing Twisted Sister singing Let It Snow when she opens her card?

Foiled again!

Finally – don’t buy shiny cards with patches of foil. I do not believe them to be recyclable, although I found any amount of websites declaring that foil on cards was recyclable with little supporting evidence. There has been a study that seems to show that foil is sustainable but since the study was commissioned by the Foil Stamping and Embossing Association, I’m inclined to regard it as a little on the partial side… call me an old cynic but I once worked in the advertising industry…

And then I found a website called Johnsons Cards who have the grace to tell anyone who passes by that “foils are actually a very thin polyester film carrying a foil pigment.” Ah, it’s our old pal, polyester. A polymer derived from petroleum. Not biodegradable at all, then.

In the interests of further research, I had an online chat with Suzanne, a dear little brunette avatar at The Foil Printing Co. Here is most of it – I’ve added a bit of punctuation and respelled most of it to make us both look slightly more literate. It’s a marvellous exercise in obfuscation and marketing speak.

Welcome to LiveChat


Suzanne – Customer Service Advisor (That’s her above. Isn’t she a cutie?) : Welcome to The Foil Printing Co. If you have any questions just drop us a line. We’d love to chat!

Me: What is foil made of when it’s attached to card?

Suzanne: the foil is a metallic foil that is applied onto the card with a soft lamination that is required for the foiling and this leaves a smooth velvety feel to the item.

Me: Is it actually made from metal? I’m researching for my school project. (I know, I lied. Sorry.)

Suzanne: no sorry shinny foil

Me: Shinny foil? (Shinny!!! Sorry, I couldn’t resist including that misspelling!)

Suzanne: Yes which is called metallic foil.

Me: And what is that made of?

Suzanne: METALLIC FOIL SAMPLE PACK Our metallic foil sample pack has been crafted with an eye for perfection by our talented marketing and design team. It includes everything needed to reassure you that placing a foil order with us will result in some of the most fantastic foiled items you will have laid eyes on. To give you a full rundown you’ll receive samples of all our most popular foil options with our soft touch matt laminate. You’ll also get samples of all our coloured and traditional paper options along with examples of the thicknesses we offer. Since we have over 300 different foil print combinations, you can play mix and match with nearly everything in the sample pack to end up with the perfect foiled print. Ordering your sample pack is a piece of cake. Just give us some info about how you found us, add it to the basket, then checkout. You’ll be able to provide us with the postage details then. / Sorry cannot state this / Description about foiling above (Yes, this really was her answer. The oblique slashes indicate a new line within the same paragraph which I can’t replicate here.)

Me: I don’t want to order samples. I’m researching foil cards for a project about Christmas cards. What do you mean, sorry cannot state this?

Suzanne: Read the blog I have attached that explains a bit (it doesn’t, it just tells you about the many colours of foil printing) – cannot say what the foil is made from.

Me: Why, don’t you know? Just trying to understand. Metallic doesn’t mean made of metal? (Remind you of anything? Like “plastic free teabags” not meaning plastic free teabags?)

Suzanne: Do not have the details for this, sorry.

Me: Who can I ask for information?

Suzanne: We do not have the manufacturer specifications

Me: Oh, I see. So you aren’t the manufacturer?

Suzanne: No, we just apply this to the items required.

Me: But it says on your website that foil printing is recyclable, so it’s quite surprising that you don’t know what the foil is made of.

Suzanne: We buy the foil in and do not have the manufacturer specifications sorry.

Me: But your website clearly states that foil is recyclable.

Suzanne: Sorry, do not have any more information about the foil other than what is on the website page.

Me: Hmmm. I think you aren’t allowed to tell me. Bye bye.

Suzanne: Thank you for your time today and have a good day. 

Suzanne has closed the chat.


Is that all?

Pretty much – but save the stamps. They can make money for charities – and they’re getting scarcer since the advent of email.

And after Christmas?

I’ll give you some tips about how to dispose of them then. FFS, that’s enough for now about Christmas cards!

Other news

I haven’t posted for ages. Sorry. Blame Covid gloom.

But I did do something rather exciting. Yours truly was asked to give the opening keynote speech at the LSBU Sustainability and Climate Change Action Event a couple of weeks ago. (London South Bank University). I was so nervous I couldn’t focus on anything else for weeks beforehand, I’ve never been a speaker anywhere before, let alone a keynote speaker.

It’s now up online and if you want to watch my contribution, the lovely Neil Basing introduces me at 23:40 and I start waffling on at 24:10.

Incidentally, don’t just watch mine. There are some wonderful contributions from other people who know a lot more that me. People with PROPER qualifications.

And finally… Her Ladyship poses…

Miss P with what was once a football.

And thanks to Annie Spratt at for her photo of cards which is visible on the website but not on the emails.

23 thoughts on “CHRISTMAS CARDS???

  1. I stopped sending Christmas cards years ago, the money I save on stamps I give a donation to our local cat and dog home. The time I save is invaluable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Almost certainly Mylar with the thinnest of thin metallic sprays on it. The metallic sprays probably include a phthalate plasticizer for flexibilty. Recyclable? In a word, no.I was always useless at sending cards of any description. At least my apathy can be re-born as an eco-credential.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Dilly,

    I have some non foil cards left from last year which I shall use this year – but will know for next year!

    You could have told Suzanne to foil off!

    I was very sad on Tuesday last because I’ve tickets to see you at The Mayflower in Southampton. The tickets seem to have more bounce than Tigger. Now 2 May and I don’t know if I can make that because our first grandchild is due on 4th May and we are on dog sitting duties – so could get a call anytime day or night that fortnight. But we are desperately excited about their good news – only hope the wedding planned for September 2020 and rescheduled for September 2021 can go ahead. What a mess this year’s been!

    Your picture of Piper cheered me up. Here is a picture to cheer you up! Corky our Border cross playing with his new best friend Bono the Dalmatian puppy.

    Down but not out…

    Helen H… massive fan of you all bless you for the happiness and laughter you bring XX


    • Hello, yes, bloody bloody Covid, let’s hope the Southampton date holds for May. First children are always late (well, mostly) so I’m sure you will be able to come. Meanwhile, I couldn’t see the picture, I don’t think you can send pictures through this comment section – there’s an email associated with this website which is – I’d like to see Corky. x


  4. Dilly, thank you once again from South west Scotland for your excellent blog.
    Anent Christmas cards. We don’t send them except to extremely old and IT illiterate relatives. Instead my wife Alice uses an online Advent calendar into which you insert your own photos and text and send by email. The money saved is given to a charity. I know that using IT isn’t actually carbon neutral but we feel fairly smug nonetheless because we have recently bought and are making a lot of use of e-bikes instead of the car. They are brilliant!


  5. We’re planning to buy electric bikes as well, but we’re waiting for spring… Meanwhile, I know a lot of people don’t send cards any more, but a lot of people still love (and send) them so it’s a legitimate subject for me. But I love the online Advent calendar idea, I shall hunt it down! Thanks for the tip.


  6. Hi Dillie,

    There are many charities out there that recycle the cards. Sue Ryder Hospice near me take any cards and they cut them up and make new cards which are then sold to raise funds.

    That is the ultimate recycling.

    I urge people not to just throw cards away but to give them to the charities that can utilise them. With postal costs increasing year on year I’ve cut back but like you I won’t completely stop.

    Stay safe

    Jerry x x


    • Yes, there are lots of constructive ways of using old cards, I usually give mine to friends with young kids who take them into school for projects etc. Nice to hear from you, Jerry! xxx


      • Most people know we don’t “do Xmas” so we get maybe 2 from neighbours, and they go straight into the recycling. Have never reciprocated, but if they still persist in putting them through my letterbox then it’s up to them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Recycle them lol

        We go to Lanzarote for Christmas and new year so by the time we get home Christmas is well over. I cut the stamps off the envelopes and then recycle the cards.

        When I decided to stop sending cards I put a note in the cards to say that it was my last year for sending them.


    • My father became very seriously ill in November 1999 and was in an induced coma in hospital for the duration until his death at 4.15pm on Millennium NYE. That prioritised everything for me over that Xmas period, and cards were the last thing on my mind, so didn’t buy any. The next year I realised that nobody cared about cards really, and I was still in grief so didn’t bother again. That then became the norm. Haven’t bought or sent Xmas cards since, and now I disregard them totally. The pared back Xmas is now our preference and we normally go abroad and get away from it all. This year, because of the pandemic, we are forced to stay here and it will be very strange to be at home. We are just going to try and get through it and stay safe. Still won’t be doing Xmas cards though..!


  7. I can see why Christmas cards are completely irrelevant for you, what a sad and difficult time you had. My grandfather died on Boxing Day and Mum always went into a tailspin at Christmas after that, trying to recreate the amazing Christmasses she’d had at home. But it was never the same and the stress was dreadful. I think if I were writing about the emotional side of Christmas cards I would have taken a different tack. No-one should feel pressured into sending cards just because they receive them – it slightly drives me mad that my colleagues give cards even when we’re seeing one another every day…! But on this blog I try to stick to the nitty gritty and ask whether it’s doing the planet any good. Meanwhile, I’d love to pare back Christmas and I’ve been begging my other half for us to go out for Christmas dinner for some years but no, we have to have the big shebang every year. Ah well!


  8. Yes, it was a difficult time, and as the very last surviving member of my family it was hugely stressful.

    I understand the over compensation Xmasses as had loads of those while growing up. I decided to go the other way and ignore it as I couldn’t cope with the stress of it. So I made that decision very early on.

    It’s been a hell of a slog going against the flow, especially at first, but it gets easier and people stop asking why, as they are too wrapped up in their own world to care.

    I used to get people say “Oh, yeah, you don’t do Xmas do you”. Even that stopped after a while as folk really aren’t that interested. That’s when it really becomes a relief.

    Each to their own, live and let live, and I hope you have the Xmas you want.

    PS would love to see you perform when this plague is over as I adore you gals. x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That reminds me of when Fascinating Aïda were performing in NYC over Christmas. Liza ADORES Christmas and Adèle freely admits to being a total grinch, she loathes it (yet she always sends cards… explain that!!!). I’m ambivalent – I don’t hate it by any means but I don’t care for it when it’s all day every day and cheesy Christmas songs on the radio and sell sell sell in the shops… so I was very much stuck in the middle, trying not to spoil Liza’s enjoyment whilst at the same time not driving Adèle crackers. I remember buying a sweet little wooden tree with tiny baubles for our apartment which I gave to my friend Carl afterwards. Liza was delighted and it was so neat and unobtrusive that even Adèle didn’t mind it. And we had a great dinner on the day with a lot of other Brit performers who were in the other theatres in the same building. So we managed to get through it unscathed! Meanwhile I can’t wait to get performing again… and I can’t wait to sit in a theatre seat again because it’s my meat and drink.


    • Dear Dillie,
      I have not looked at your website since November and was a little shocked to find you’d not posted anything since, yet not surprised as we live in the most testing of times and real life is more important. When Jan lockdown was announced I went and collected my work PC etc again (having worked at work Sept to Dec) and then slept for 3 days. I then made endless cups of tea and sat staring into space for a week. I realised I was exhibiting the same symptoms I do when in mourning. It is a wretchèd business and I hate it. I do hope you and yours are as okay as one can be? Can’t wait to be able to see you on stage again, but I have enjoyed your YT posts in the meanwhile: you really are a tonic in tough times. I’ve got your latest record downloaded but I’ve not listened to all of it yet as I have been rationing it (new FA material is to be savoured not devoured). I have, however, had your early records out (which actually ARE records) and I do enjoy the evolution of your voices and compositions from the early 80s to present. I always think since “Barefaced Chic” onwards, something turned up a notch somehow and something already brilliant became even sharper. The changes in outlook and subject matter that come with passing years too are very interesting, and of course you reflect the news and politics of that particular year or even week with changes to “Taboo” and “Song Cycle” which I just think are genius. I’ve not seen you on stage now for some years owing to disability – last time was Birmingham in that hall by the library with “Silver Jubilee” which I’d already seen at Coventry with different friends. I have got plans afoot on HOW to see you this coming time though, and where as I’ve decided seeing FA live is good for me: no one makes me laugh in quite the same way except perhaps the late Ms Wood, and you have the added bonus over most comedy acts of your songs not just being good but having gorgeous music with nods to myriad composers that the music buff in me loves. Between that and this wonderful blog that I do hope is winning hearts and minds and your tireless campaigning on environmental issues for decades now (and human rights and other things) and raising money for charities via your live shows, you’re deserving of a gong from Liz II but as I would never lower myself to nominating anyone for a system so hellishly colonial and backward still, it’ll have to wait!
      Do hope you’re surviving and enjoying the spring flowers…and now I have “the flowers that bloom in spring” stuck in me head. Tra-la.


      • That wonderful and supportive message inspired me to get on with finishing a piece which I have just published. Thank you so much for that. Yes, I agree, Barefaced Chic was a turning point for us. I do hope you get to see us live, people do tell us we should be prescribed by the NHS!!! Thank you as well for changing the ear worm in my head. I have been internally singing “Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the waters” for two days. I’m not sure why, I’m not at all religious. I’ve now got that lovely G&S tune bouncing around my cranium – a welcome change. Stay well! xx


  10. Hi Dillie

    Enjoyed this blog and the synchronicity of ordering my Chrimbo cards from Survival the day before! Can I ask have you ever written a song about nimbys or is it too old hat now? It’s just we’re experiencing abit of it at the moment and it can be hard not to personalise it- take it to heart rather than putting a comic spin on it.

    Do hope you’re battling on and looking forward to being out of this second lockdown soon-for how long, who knows? Just got to take it day by day but not easy, especially when you’re trying to plan work.

    We’ve booked to see you in Yeovil in February, fingers and everything crossed that your tour will happen.

    Take care, be alert and keep safe!

    Camilla and Iain

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Being retired means I no longer get back to my desk and find another half a dozen cards from people I can speak to at normal volume across the room. Bah humbug!


  12. I have a die cutting machine and re use Christmas cards by turning them into gift tags; foil, embellishments (which can also be taken off and used in crafting projects), glitter and bows can all be appreciated for a second time x


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