technology is your holiday card friend: gathering addresses

[source: bookgrl]

So we’ve talked about finding pretty holiday cards… but what about the pain of actually sending them out?

If you’re like me… you don’t have any actual printed copy of everyone’s address in one place. They’re all scattered among various “Contact Lists” in various programs, they’re scribbled on pieces of paper, and maybe you know where your friends lived last year but they’ve moved yet again and you deleted the email with the important “I’ve moved” details. Sometimes I’m truly jealous of my mom’s archaic physical address book… but then I remember all the white-out and post-it notes inside and I’m happy to have my digital mismatch in place.

But last year, before the holidays, I decided to truly organize the madness and make an organized “Christmas card list” once and for all. You know, one I could use over and over and over again! And guess what, I did it for my mom too… how nifty am I? Seriously…

And you know what else I did with it?  I used it to digitally print ALL of our holiday envelopes in a fraction of the time it would have taken me to write them out. Leaving me time to actually write a note on my cards instead of sticking them in the envelope plain… Lovely, huh?

So now there’s no panic about preparing my cards this year. I just need to order stamps, focus on designing the cards, and know that they’ll all be out in mail just a couple days later!

And to help you alleviate some of the stress of your holiday season (in case you still believe in sending cards to others) I’d love to show you how I did all of this last year, using only Google Docs & Microsoft Word!

There are two parts to this tutorial….

[today’s post] Part 1) Gathering Addresses – a really easy way to grab your friends physical addresses through email! (you can input the rest that you have at the end)

[tomorrow’s post] Part 2) Using Mail Merge to Print your Envelopes – a step-by-step guide to making mail merge do all of your heavy envelope writing for you… even using pretty fonts and color!

So without further adieu… here we go!

Part 1: Gathering the Addresses

In order to use MAIL MERGE, you need to have the components of your addresses in a spreadsheet form. Therefore, if you gather them into a spreadsheet, you save yourself the trouble and time of transferring that information into the proper format at the end.

This is where Google Docs comes in VERY handy.

First, login to your Google account. Navigate to “Documents” on the top black navigation bar.

Once you’re there, click on the red CREATE button on the left hand side, and select “Form.”



This will create a new “Form” document where you can collect addresses from your friends and family members and random acquaintances.

You’ll want to customize your form to gather all of the information you need. Enter the name of your form in the top box (listed as Untitled form) and fill in any information you’d like. I named mine “Holiday Card Information” and stated that I was collecting addresses for our annual holiday cards.


Then proceed to create your question boxes.


You’ll want to have “Questions” for all of the address variables you’re collecting (i.e. Name, Address, City, State, Zip).

To add additional Question boxes, click on “Add item” and select “Text.”


Once you’ve completed your form (see mine below), you are ready to send it out to friends and family!!

Just copy the link on the bottom of the screen and paste it into an email, tell your friends what you’re doing and why they need to click on the link, and you’re ready to go!



When they visit your form, they’ll see this:


Once they enter their information and “Submit” their form… all of that info goes straight into your spreadsheet within Google Docs!

Just go back to Documents and click to open the Form you created, and you’ll see this:


Each person who submits a form will show up as a new row. And if you need to enter names manually, from lists that you already have, just follow the pattern and enter the information as you need to across a row. The “Form” is smart, and will always enter in new information it collects on the next row down, so don’t worry about it accidentally overwriting any manual entries.

And after a few days, you’ll have a whole list of people’s addresses ready to go!

What do you do with them now? Well… you print them on your envelopes silly!

And I’ll explain that easy process tomorrow…


  • Megan

    I love Google Forms – we did this very same address collection for our wedding invitations! Plus now that all the info is corralled in a spreadsheet, it’s really easy to update the list as soon as I get a new address from someone. Great tutorial!

  • tracey

    or you can do what i’ve done .. put all of the important addys on clear labels and save the labels as a word doc as christmas card list and edit/add/delete as appropriate. when the cards are ready, i just print out my labels (font starry night) and i’m good to go !

  • Th

    This is great. I didn’t even realize Google would do this and here I am looking for complex solutions. Thank you for sharing.