Snail mail still wins: 54% prefer paper greeting cards during the holidays

NEW YORK — Who says snail mail is dead? More than half of Americans (54%) say they still mail out greeting cards instead of sending emails and messages on social media during the holidays.

A new survey of 2,000 U.S. adults split evenly by generation uncovered that taking an extra step in the personalization of holiday expressions goes a long way in spreading holiday cheer. Two in three prefer to receive physical cards as opposed to digital ones, including younger respondents who are millennials (62%) or are part of Gen Z (59%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Shutterfly, the survey also found that generally, people prefer to feature their family photos (30%) in holiday cards, in addition to vacation (17%), and pet pics (13%). Featuring a theme on holiday cards is an absolute must for Gen Z (49%), millennials (51%), and Gen X respondents (39%).

When it comes to card designs, overall, 55 percent prefer greetings with a personalized message, rather than generic templates (24%) or anything AI-generated (16%). Millennials are the most likely generation to be upset about receiving the same generic card as someone else (38%), while baby boomers are the ones who would feel least offended (60%).

person holding greeting card
Photo by Tanya Trukyr from Unpslash

The survey also uncovered that the average millennial also spends 27 minutes choosing a holiday card and 42 minutes picking out the perfect holiday gift

The time spent shopping can add up when feeling stressed to find the perfect gift, and 36 percent feel a significant amount of pressure shopping for a person in their lives who seemingly has everything. Still, the effort is worth it for more than half of Gen Z and millennials, who are equally excited to give than receive a gift.

Many put extra effort into holiday gifting, as 36 percent of respondents are more likely to personalize a gift during the season than on any other occasion. However, some gift-givers may need to go back to the drawing board since the average person pretends to like over a third (35%) of gifts.

“The holidays can be a stressful time and we know people still want to be thoughtful and gift something that feels one-of-a-kind,” says Jessica Lesesky, Vice President of Merchandising at Shutterfly, in a statement. “For unique personalized gifts, people need options that fit into their budget and busy holiday schedule to allow them to express their care and thoughtfulness to those who make the holidays special.”

Seven in 10 believe that personalization shows a closer connection to the gift-giver, especially since personal presents are reserved: on average, survey-takers said you’ll need to know a person for an average of 1.4 years before personalizing their gifts. Respondents also shared that their partner is most likely to appreciate a personalized present, more so than a child (31%), sibling (26%), or co-worker (12%).

When shopping for presents that feel more custom, people tend to personalize items such as greeting cards (43%), jewelry (34%), clothing (32%) and artwork (27%).

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Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who celebrate a fall/winter holiday split evenly by generation was commissioned by Shutterfly between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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