Christmas Cards: Who, What, When & Why
Christmas cards have been accessible to the public since a civil servant in England named Sir Henry Cole came up with the concept in the 1840s, although homemade cards were created earlier by British boys practicing their writing skills. Mr. Cole got the idea to offer what he referred to as "Christmas congratulations cards" to encourage people to take advantage of the first postal service designed for the general public to use. About a thousand of these early Christmas cards were printed. Still have questions about yuletide cards? Here's what you need to know.
What Led to Today's Christmas Cards?
Mr. Cole's original cards had three panels. The center one depicted a family enjoying a Christmas dinner. After printing methods improved, Christmas cards became increasingly popular in the 1860s and '70s. Holiday cards made their way to the U.S. around this time as well, but didn't take off until a mass production method developed by Louis Prang made them more affordable and accessible to the general public.
Today, Christmas cards come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. Some are more traditional in nature and others feature Santa Claus or express funny sayings and other sentiments. Altogether more than 2 billion Christmas cards are sent every year in the United States alone!
Who Can Get Christmas Cards?
Anybody you want to send them to is the short answer here. If you want to get more specific with the "who," start with family members. This can include close family members, distant relatives, and extended family that could include in-laws and even long-time family friends. Of course, your everyday friends can be included as well. Other options with who to send Christmas cards to include:
- • Your boss and co-workers
- • Neighbors
- • Business contacts or clients
- • Community members
- • Military personnel serving overseas
- • Favorite charities
When Should You Send Christmas Cards?
Some people have a policy of sending cards when they first start receiving them. But there are many people who prefer to send out their cards during the week of or just before Christmas. The potential problem with doing this is getting caught up in the Christmas rush - referring to the time just prior to Christmas when millions or cards and gifts are sent. The general rule of thumb that's often suggested is to send your cards about 2-3 weeks prior to the holiday. Also, be mindful of U.S. Postal Service mail-by dates if you'll be sending cards outside of your local area.
The why when it comes to Christmas cards can vary from one person to another. Some individuals exchange holiday cards in order to maintain a sense of tradition. Other people send them to express sincere wishes in line with the spirit of the Christmas season. You can even use Christmas cards as an excuse to send appealing "perks" like family photos or a customized letter covering major family events that occurred since last Christmas.