Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thursday Thirteen 85: Christmas Cards

As many of us prepare to send out holiday greetings, here are Thirteen Things About Christmas Cards.

1. 87% of individuals say they would rather give up some other holiday task than sending Christmas cards
2. In the United States alone, approximately 2.1 billion holiday cards are sent annually.
3. On December 18, typically the busiest day, each postal worker will handle more than 900 pieces of mail.
4. Englishman Henry Cole is believed to be the first person to send out holiday cards. Too busy to send personal notes to his friends and wish them good tidings over the holidays in 1843, Cole commissioned an artist to create a card to send to all his acquaintances.
5. Designed by John Calcott Horsley, the lithographed card featured adults and children raising wine glasses in a toast. The first Christmas card also had various religious symbols. Sprigs of holly symbolized chastity, while ivy symbolized places God had walked. Feeding and clothing the poor were also encouraged on the card's cover. Under the picture was written "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you."
6. In more recent years, sending homemade cards has come back into vogue, with people using designer paper, stamps, punches, and a variety of embellishments. If making your own cards, it is wise to begin designing and making them a few months before Thanksgiving. Check local craft stores for holiday card classes, or open stamp times, then call a couple of friends to join you.
7. If you aren’t feeling artistic yourself, turn a child’s artwork into your Christmas card. You can find a number of online digital printing services, such as
8. In order to get cards sent out before Christmas, start as early as possible. If you start right after Thanksgiving and write a few each day, you’ll be done in no time!
9. To get through your holiday cards faster, keep a stash of them in your bag and write out a few while waiting for an appointment or for your kid’s dance or sports lesson to finish.
10. Involve the entire family with one person addressing and stamping the envelopes, another writing a short note or signing names, etc. Let younger children participate by decorating the envelopes with holiday stickers.
11. As early as 1822, the postmaster in Washington, D.C. was worried by the amount of extra mail at Christmas time. His preferred solution to the problem was to limit by law the number of cards a person could send. Even though commercial cards were not available at that time, people were already sending so many home-made cards that sixteen extra postmen had to be hired in the city.
12. Hallmark introduced its first Christmas cards in 1915, five years after the founding of the company (and 72 years after the first Christmas card was sent).
13. Postmen in Victorian England were popularly called "robins." This was because their uniforms were red. The British Post Office grew out of the carrying of royal dispatches. Red was considered a royal color, so uniforms and letter-boxes were red. Christmas cards often showed a robin delivering Christmas mail.

Bonus: Number of cards Heather made this year: 360+ (No, not all for my own use!)


Stephanie Adkins * Adelle Laudan * Alice Audrey
Nina Pierce * RJ LeBeau * Shelley Munro
Ms Menozzi * Jennifer McKenzie * Paige Tyler * Jan
Yoonamaniac * Inez Kelley * Jenna Bayley-Burke
Eaton Bennett * ArmyMom * Julie * Jan

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


Adelle said...

I miss getting Christmas cards. I used to get oodles of them. Now I get ecards. It's just not the same, is it? Can't really blame people, with the economy and the price of stamps.
Happy T13!

Heather said...

Adelle - I know what you mean about it not being the same. That personal touch is why I continue to make and send my own. (And if you PM me an address...*grin*)

Alice Audrey said...

Actually, I did give it up when the handful of people on my list complained that they wanted to quit.

Shelley Munro said...

What great facts. We used to get lots of cards when we were kids. Your TT brings back memories of stringing up cards and fighting over them after Christmas. :)

Ms Menozzi said...

My mom has kept some of the same Christmas cards for over 30 years. She uses them as decorations every Christmas, too.

They don't do the card thing here in Italy, so I do kind of miss getting those in the mail. I just don't enjoy the e-cards as much. Some of 'em are great, but some are just... "meh", you know?

Oh well...

Happy TT!

Stephanie Adkins said...

I love sending (and getting) Christmas cards. :) Great list! Happy Thursday! *HUGS*

Jennifer McKenzie said...

I'm so bad at this. I have them. I plan to send them.
Then, I don't.
My mother has hers out by December 1st.
And I agree with Adelle. Ecards are NOT the same.

Paige Tyler said...

Cool TT! I love getting Christmas cards!


My TT is at

yoonamaniac said...

I don't send cards and I really don't care for getting cards either. Don't see the point, really. :D

Heather said...

Alice - I send out a lot more cards than I receive. I don't expect people to reciprocate when I send them a card, it's just my way of saying, "We may not have seen each other recently or talked in a while, but I'm still thinking of you."

Shelley - Yes! My sisters and I would fight over who got to open them, and there were some that were always fought over after.

Ms Menozzi - Wow, that's cool that you mother has kept cards that long. They obviously mean something special to her. And I agree, ecards are just, "meh."

Stephanie - Ah, a kindred spirit! Happy TT! :]

Heather said...

Jenn - Ah, you're one of those. J/K! There seem to be a lot of people as organized as your mom. Although only Dec 4, I've already received four cards in the mail (and a pressie too!). I strive for finishing my cards by Dec 1 and getting the envelopes stamped and addressed, then work on them a handful at a time over the next couple weeks, trying to get the overseas ones out as early as possible.

Paige - Yay, another who loves to receive! :]

Yoona - As mentioned above to Alice, sending cards is a way of letting friends and relatives you don't see very often know that you are thinking of them, of connecting. I try to write a short note in my cards, and some years will even send a short holiday letter if there has been a lot going on. I love hearing what friends have been up to, especially when we all lead such busy lives that keeping in touch sometimes falls to the wayside. Some people prefer the telephone; some prefer email; I prefer the mail. ;]

The Bumbles said...

Damn that Henry Cole! I hate the sending process so hubby tackles that mostly. I do enjoy receiving them and decorating the mantle and doorways with them. But is it bad that I throw out the photo cards of all our friends' kids on them when the season is over? I always feel guilty about putting them in the trash but what exactly am I supposed to do with them all? Our T13 is here...

Heather said...

Bumbles - Yes, but if it hadn't been Cole it would have been someone else (and likely someone who worked for Hallmark, LOL). Not trying to guilt you, but I like receiving the pics friends send me and add them to my scrapbooks with a note as to whose child(ren) and any news imparted by said friend.

Also, I've known people who have lost a lot of their photos through moves, fires, or floods and cannot tell you how much it means to people when a friend or family member can produce a pic they thought lost forever. Still, whether you keep them or not is entirely up to you!

Julie said...

Thanks for sharing all these great Christmas card facts with us! I learn something new every day :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my 13!

Army Mom said...

I loved your post. I so enjoy reading little known facts. Thanks for visiting my blog.
My link is army mom

Eaton Bennett said...

In the last ten years I have virtually stopped sending Christmas cards. But this year I feel a renewed
delight in spreading joy by traditional post. Happy TT! :)

Heather said...

Julie, Army Mom and Eaton - Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!

Janice said...

I design mine on the computer then print them out and send them. I use a picture that I took myself with my digetal camera.

Happy belated TT.


Darla M Sands said...

I still haven't sent mine! I guess they'll be New Year cards.