The Origin of Holiday Cards

How did the custom of sending Holiday Cards begin in the United States? Sir Henry Cole, the founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, had so many holiday greetings to send that handwriting them was impossible. He wanted his friends to be aware of the need to help the destitute on Christmas. So in 1843, Cole commissioned John Calcott Horsley to paint holiday greeting cards showing the feeding and clothing of the poor.

The first mainstream holiday card had a center panel showing a happy family embracing one another, sipping wine and enjoying the festivities. This card drew criticism because showing a child enjoying a sip of wine was considered to foster the moral corruption of children. Printed on the inside read “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

Following the mainstreaming of holiday cards in London, Americans had to import greeting cards from Great Britain for the following 30 years. Then in 1875 Louis Prang, a German man who immigrated to the United States, opened a lithography shop with only $250 and published the first line of personalized Christmas cards for America. This first line of Holiday cards featured flowers and birds…an image not reminiscent of a Christmas scene. But by 1881, Prang was producing more than 5 million Christmas cards per year featuring snow scenes, fir trees, glowing fireplaces, and children playing with toys.

‘Twas A Year Before Christmas

‘Twas a year before Christmas in our publishing house.
Click! Click! From Creative came the sound of a mouse.
Readying cards to entice for next holiday season,
The design team faced challenges, and for good reason.

With Marketing and customer feedback as a guide,
Taking culture, originality, and artistry in stride,
They channel image and words into a card cover,
With greetings to suit the whole world over.

Sketch of forest, ornament or gifts in hand,
On with stars, snow, ribbons, by inspired command!
“Which color paper?” “Should we use ink?”
“What type of foil?” “Embossing, you think?”

Completed, the artwork is rushed to engravers
Who sculpt master dies, both crafty and clever.
The next trips are to the printers and finishers,
With our designers as shepherds of the endeavor.

When their actual turnover cards are in hand,
They return to the office and set up a stand.
With a plea to the rest of us, all of their colleagues
“Be angels,” they ask, “Name these cards, please!”

In hushed awe we gather, then start scribbling wildly.
Does it shimmer, does it glitter? Some try names that are funny.
Wiser heads will select which the best names will be,
“Grapes of Wreath” gets passed over for “Harvest Bounty.”

On to Production, who with skill will fill inventory
So our Plant can imprint customer orders in a hurry.
Creative exclaimed, moving on to new passions,
“Let’s start on designs for the All Occasion fashions!”

A Year of Greeting Card Feats

2007 is almost over, and what a spectacular year it’s been! Our cards have been a part of some amazing feats. Back in July we officially went green with our announcement of windpower greeting cards; in September we put in place our first annual Create a Greeting Card Scholarship Contest; last month we donated 280,000 holiday cards to Soldiers’ Angels for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; and within the last two weeks our cards were inadvertently featured on network television. Designs 491CS, 684CX, 676CX, and 678CX were used as background props on CBS’s Guiding Light, and this past Tuesday, design 320CX (Golden Nativity Religious Holiday Card) was shown on ABC’s Live with Regis and Kelly. Here is the video clip:

The design is a part of our Religious Christmas cards, which invoke the true meaning of Christmas for those looking to express a spiritual message in their holiday greetings. The card shown on Live with Regis and Kelly was actually imprinted and signed by The Amazing Kreskin! I’m not sure if The Amazing Kreskin could’ve predicted what a spectacular year we were going to have, but I’m hoping that next year will be just as exciting (if not better) than 2007.

Peace, Joy, and Season’s Greeting Cards

Should you say Merry Christmas or Season’s Greetings? During this time of the year, there are so many things that I have to juggle. Between shopping for gifts, decorating my house, attending holiday parties, and baking Christmas cookies, the last thing I need to worry about is if my holiday greeting cards are politically correct. But the fact of the matter is I do worry about this because I don’t want to offend any of the recipients who are to receive my greeting cards.

I always pay close attention to the personalized holiday cards that I purchase each year. Ideally, I like to distribute one card design to everyone, which saves me time and money. But in doing so, I make sure to choose Holiday cards that are appropriate for all of my recipients, being that my friends and family come from very diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds and I would never want to offend any of them with an unsuitable holiday card.

If I decided to purchase Merry Christmas Cards, then I’ve eliminated the option of being politically correct. So I prefer to purchase Seasons Greeting Cards so as not to insult any of my recipients. Going with this option allows me to express my true sentiments to my friends and family with complete assurance of everyone’s contentedness, which is really what matters most during the holiday season – peace, joy, and happiness.

The History of the Christmas Wreath

Do you ever wonder where the tradition of the Merry Christmas Wreath comes from? The roots of this tradition can be traced back to the ancient Greeks when wreaths made of laurel were placed on the heads of victorious athletes in the original Olympic Games. Wreaths were also used by the Romans when worn on the heads of leaders such as Julius Caesar.

Some say that the circular shape represents eternity since it has no beginning or end. Today, the most popular use of the wreath during Christmas is the Advent Wreath with its lovely candles representing the coming of light or spring. The most popular wreath is the Merry Christmas Wreath made from evergreen branches, which hangs on the wall or door and invokes feelings of warmth for the season.

The symbolism of the wreath is in the shape of the circle that has no beginning and no ending. Some say that this may represent the circle of life or the eternal nature of God’s love. The evergreens used in wreaths are said to represent immortality because they live through winter, signifying strength. The wreath is a colorful welcoming touch whether used during the Christmas season or any time of the year. It has the uncanny ability to invoke feelings of warmth and family.

A Short History of Christmas Trees

“Mommy, why is there a tree in our living room?” Some children think to ask this question and some don’t. But why is there a tree in the living room?

Like many traditional symbols of Christmas, it is often explained as a reinvented old pagan symbol. Evergreens were a symbol of life and in the darkest time of year, right before the winter solstice, were used to symbolize the rebirth that would come with springtime.

There are many different explanations as to why trees became a symbol of Christmas. Another explanation, the one I remember hearing as a child when I asked the question, claims that a minister was walking home one Merry Christmas eve and was so struck by how beautiful the stars looked shining down on the trees that he wanted to share it with his children. He cut down a small tree, brought it home, and decorated it with candles. The modern Christmas tree dates back to Queen Victoria, who posed for a drawing with her family around a decorated tree for her own royal personalized Christmas card.

I do like to think about how it all started, especially when I find myself digging through boxes of Christmas tree ornaments, some of which have been around since 1924 when my uncle was born! In the end, I’m just glad of three things: that there IS a seasonal tree in my living room, that we no longer use lit candles to decorate it, and that my tree isn’t as big as the tree at Rockefeller Center.

Business Holiday Cards – Planning Ahead Will Save you the Stress

The Holiday season is a stressful time for many. One in four people report having increased headaches during this time of year. But it doesn’t have to get to that point. This is an auspicious time for businesses to reach out to clients, vendors, and employees. And by planning ahead, it will help to alleviate some of the stress…and the headaches.

Sending business holiday cards is a wonderful way to express gratitude to your patrons and your staff. But this shouldn’t be a last minute gesture. You should be sure to plan ahead with the appropriate card design, greeting, and imprint. Holiday cards may seem insignificant to some, but in actuality, it is a representation of you and your company. So be sure your correspondence reflects the aesthetics and philosophy of your company.

It is very important to update your recipient list each year. You’ll want to be sure to send holiday greeting cards to new clients and merchants and revise the contact information for clients that have changed location or came under new management. This reminds me of religious Christmas cards that are mailed to my house every year from a local Methodist Church. It is very nice that the ministry of this church keeps my family in its thoughts during the Christmas season, except my family is Jewish. The family who used to live in my house probably attended this church and either switched churches when they moved or never updated their mailing address. So be sure to update your recipient list each year so that your intended contacts are actually being mailed your holiday greeting cards.

For more success tips for small businesses during the Holiday season, check out Rhonda Abrams’ 2008 Holiday Survival Guide. Use this guide to plan ahead and don’t let the Holiday rush get the best of you.