Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Creative Ideas for Christmas Cards

History of Christmas Cards

Though wood engravers produced prints with religious themes in the European Middle Ages, the first commercial Christmas and New Year’s card was designed in London, England, in 1843. The picture on the front—a family with a small child drinking wine together—turned out to be controversial, but the idea stuck.

John Callcott Horsley (1817—1903), a British narrative painter and a Royal Academician, designed the first Christmas and New Year’s card at the suggestion and request of his friend Sir Henry Cole, who was the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Horsley designed the first Christmas card in 1840, but it did not go on sale until 1843, when one thousand cards were offered for one shilling each. The Christmas
card became very popular, and other artists quickly followed Horsley’s concept.

Early English cards rarely showed winter or religious themes, favoring flowers, fairies, and other fanciful designs in honor of the approach of spring. Humorous and sentimental images of children and animals were popular, as well as increasingly elaborate shapes, decorations, and materials.

Louis Prang was the first printer to offer Christmas cards in America in 1875. The style and extravagance of the cards evolved throughout the twentieth century with changing printing techniques. Patriotic themes were popular during the world wars, and religious themes dominated starting with the 1950s.

The Christmas Card Today

Even though new technologies have caused a serious drop in the number of cards received by households, approximately 1.8 billion cards are sent annually.

Here are some ideas on to incorporate Christmas Cards into your family’s traditions:

The Christmas Letter

In recent years, some families have opted to include a Christmas letter updating friends on the events of the past year. You might choose one person or merge the contributions of all the family members. This is especially easy when done on the computer. Note: It’s best to produce a letter with genuine news—letters that sound like press releases touting family achievements can be tiresome.

The Christmas Photo Postcard

Christmas Idea: Some families have chosen to send a Christmas postcard containing a family photograph and printed greeting. This has become a very popular way of updating friends and family members who live far away with how the family is growing and maturing.

Christmas in January

You might want to consider sending your Christmas letter in January, a current trend. After the hustle and bustle of celebrating is over, there is much more time to thoughtfully create a mail-out of better quality and meaning. Also, there is more time for the recipient to read it at their leisure.

Christmas Card Tree

Create a Christmas card tree by using a hole-puncher to put a hole in the top left corner of the card through both front and back. Tie the card to the tree with a ribbon. You might also want to place a Christmas basket on the coffee table or kitchen counter in which to place cards as they arrive, giving family members a chance to look at them. Handmade, particularly beautiful, and sentimental Christmas cards can be easily maintained in an album with favorite cards from past years.

Excerpted from Everything Christmas by David Bordon and Thomas J. Winters. Copyright © 2010 by David Bordon and Thomas J. Winters. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About the Authors
David Bordon and Tom Winters are partners in Bordon-Winters, LLC, a book concept and packaging company that produces successful books and gift products. Their previous titles include the 101 Things You Should Do series, especially the popular 101 Things You Should Do Before Going to Heaven.

Click here to purchase the book “Everything Christmas".