My parents did their darnedest. They made sure my education was top notch. They moved to good school districts. They sent me to accelerated programs, SAT prep classes and the second best college in Chicago. They spent many nights helping me with math homework (until I got to Algebra 2, at which point they were useless). Heck, when my fifth grade class had a balsa wood bridge building contest, Dad X gave me book on roof trusses so I could learn about structural engineering. (FYI -- The bridge held 70 pounds and I came in second place).
But after all that education and preparation for the real world, reading volumes of books on urban development, German history and the Nixon administration, I've been reduced to to this tedious but critical skill in Hollywood -- mailing Christmas cards.
Trust me, I'm as sick about it as you. A couple years ago I worked for someone who mailed cards to 1,400 people. That's like sending a card to one out of four people in Wasilla, Alaska. It was a trying moment in my Hollywood "career." But like death, taxes and a new SAW movie every Halloween, Christmas cards are an unavoidable task for a Hollywood assistant.
Following are tips on ways to make this dark period of your life go by as quickly as possible. So turn on some music, relax, pour some whiskey in your coffee and dive in. It'll be over before you know it...
- DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES USE MICROSOFT WORD AND SIMPLY TYPE UP EACH ADDRESS ON AN INDIVIDUAL LABEL. THIS WILL LEAD TO DISASTER BECAUSE YOU CAN'T SORT, ALPHABETIZE OR CROSS-REFERENCE ANYTHING. USE A DATABASE OR MICROSOFT EXCEL AND THEN DO A MAIL MERGE.
- Use each field in the database for one item only (e.g., first name, city, zip). Do not combine the recipient's first name and last name into one data field (e.g., "Elisabeth" and "Hasselbeck" versus "Elisabeth Hasselbeck").
- Make sure your mailing labels are big enough for all the address information. Avery 5260s (the ones your office is most likely to have) are usually good for four lines of information. So after putting in the person's name, title, company and street address, your label is full. Consider eliminating or consolidating non-critical information or getting different labels.
- Don't lick each envelope. Instead, use a glue stick. This will prevent your tongue, breath and salivary glands from revolting against you. Before you seal the envelopes, make sure to cover your work area with paper (I prefer a thin cardboard). This will prevent your desk from getting covered with glue.
- Don't send Christmas cards to dead people. I narrowly avoided this disaster once. If you have any doubt about whether an intended recipients is taking the dirt nap, look it up. Wikipedia is right a good 80 percent of the time.
- Use moisturizer. I know it sounds like that speech about using sunscreen, but I'm very serious. After handling a few hundred envelopes your finger tips dry up and are less likely to protect yourself from very painful paper cuts.
- Show your boss a sample before you assemble all of them. Hollywood executives are a finicky bunch, so it's best to make sure they know exactly what it's gonna look like. Otherwise you'll end up doing this twice.
- CAA moved to 2000 Avenue of the Stars a couple years ago. If anyone still has them at 9830 Wilshire, please update their contacts.
Now let us never speak of this posting again. My college diploma is laughing at me.