Staying apart doesn't mean not staying in touch this Christmas. This year, more than ever, it's important to send festive wishes to your loved ones and what better way to do it than with a classic Christmas card. Due to the unprecedented situation in which we find ourselves this festive season, it will be more likely than ever that we will be sending our love to our friends and family from a distance so finding and writing the perfect Christmas card will be key.
The history of the Christmas card
Henry Cole, a senior civil servant, has been credited with the first Christmas card back in 1843. During the early 1840s he had helped to set up the Uniform Penny Post, ensuring the post could be sent for the price of a penny giving poorer people the opportunity to connect with each other, by sending seasonal greetings on decorated letter heads.
Ahead of Christmas 1843, Cole decided he needed a solution to the piles of unanswered post that was piling up in his house - a simple image that could convey a message. He turned to his friend, an artist, John Callcott Horsley to create the idea he had in his mind and the first Christmas card was created. It was a painting of 3 generations of the Cole family raising a toast to the festive season and was marked with the date - Xmasse, 1843. The design was then turned into a Christmas card and printed 1000 times with a space left for a personalised hand-written greeting.
Cole was considered ahead of his time as although he tried to sell the cards for a shilling each, the venture failed and it wasn't until 5 years later than the second Christmas card came along. The second card was designed by William Maw Egley and is a simliar design to Cole's card, with images of the richer families enjoying the festive period whilst the poorer communities sought charity.
It wasn't until the Victorian era that Christmas card design came into its own, with the designs becoming more elaborate, brought on by the development of new printing processes allowing for more colourful, die-cut designs to create elaborately shaped cards.
It's during this time that Christmas cards became incredibly popular, with the Victorians exchanging them in large numbers, featuring many of the popular symbols that we find on our cards today. Father Christmas, snowy winter scenes and robins becoming common place images that carried through to our modern day creations.
From it's beginnings in the mid-19th century, the Christmas card industry has now grown substantially, with around a billion Christmas cards sent in the UK each year. That's a lot of festive love and best wishes sent to loved ones using the humble Christmas card.
Find the perfect Christmas cards for your loved ones
With the ever-growing popularity of the Christmas card, the styles of cards available has grown to include everything from humourous takes on festive classics to traditional scenes, the ever popular festive favourites of robins, Father Christmas and reindeers, and contemporary takes on sending your greetings.
Traditional scenes - Roaring fires, Christmas stockings hung by the fireplace with care and beautifully wrapped presents under the tree. Traditional card scenes evoke memories of cosy Christmas times spent by the fire, whilst the world turns white outside with drifts of fresh snow. We love this card from one of our artists Liz Thomas, encapsulating the traditional fireside scenes of the yuletide.
Contemporary - Bright colours, quirky characters and fabulous foiling can all be found on more contemporary cards, with pops of neon colour and lovely patterns to make the season merry and bright. You can find this fab card and plenty of other great contemporary designs on in our Christmas card collection here.
Festive favourites - Reindeers pulling Santa's sleigh, Robins in snow covered trees and Christmas trees, all the festive favourites you can always spot amongst the Christmas cards on your mantlepiece. We love this gorgeous card created by our talented Whistlefish artists, with the friendly snowman and robin - the perfect Christmas pairing.
Humourous cards - This Christmas, more than ever, many of us will be looking to the lighter side of Christmas for some relief from the challenging situation in which we all find ourselves. Our regular humourous card artist, Gerry Plumb, has created a special range of Christmas cards, sharing his take on social distancing with a festive twist. You can view his full range of fab cards here.
The perfect festive message
So you've chosen the perfect Christmas card, now what to write? Whether you choose to opt for heartfelt words for loved ones, a funny pun-filled message for your friends, or simple festive greetings, it can be difficult to find the right words for your Christmas greetings. If you're struggling for the right words to say, our advice is to keep it simple. The most important thing is that you're in touch with those you care about this festive season.
If you're struggling for words of your own, why not look to literature for some inspiration...
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.“ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
"Christmas will always be as long as we stand heart to heart and hand in hand." Dr. Seuss
We're supporting charities this Christmas
We've chosen some very worthy causes to support with a donation arising from the sales of our festive selection this year. You can find out more about each of these very deserving organisations on our blog - just click on the link to find out more The Prince's Trust, National Animal Welfare Trust Cornwall, The Shire Horse Society and The Clydesdale Horse Society.
Whichever cards you choose, take the time to share your good wishes and send your love from a far this festive season. The perfect way to show someone you care from a distance.