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Christmas Cards: Sending Holiday Greetings Across Town or Around the World

The U.S. Postal Service says that 3.4 billion Christmas cards and letters will be mailed in America this year. Christmas cards have been part of our Christmas traditions for over a century–and e-cards and not having much impact on the market.

You may have started your Christmas shopping, but do you have your cards ready to mail? According to the Postal Service, more than 3.4 billion Christmas cards and letters will be mailed in the United States this year.

Hallmark Cards’ research shows nearly three-fourths of Americans are behind this mail-stream merriment. People know how good it feels when they receive a holiday greeting in the mail; just like my Mother used to say, "If you want a letter, you have to send a letter."

The Postcard & Greeting Card Museum website says the first commercial Christmas card was created by John Calcott Horsley. The project was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in 1843 and the card illustrated a happy family embracing one another, sipping wine and enjoying Christmas festivities with the message "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You."

Neither man had any idea of the impact their project would have in Britain and later in America. The English Parliament passed the Postage Act three years after the first Christmas cards were sent, making it possible to send letters for a penny.

Louis Prang, a German immigrant, first brought the idea of Christmas cards to America. In 1875 he printed a card that showed Killarney roses and the words "Merry Christmas."


With the advent of e-mail and e-cards, you may think paper greetings will soon be a thing of the past.
Not so.

More than 20 traditional cards are purchased for every e-card sent according to Hallmark. Worldwide more than 6 billion paper cards are exchanged every year. People resort to e-mail primarily for business-type communication rather than for personal communication. When it comes to letting others know how much they care, people still want to share a tangible expression of emotion, and that’s when they turn to greeting cards.

E-mail and e-cards can’t replace the greeting card, which people can display, read over and over again, and save for years to come.

Online business is, however, creating a link between paper greetings and e-mail. The Postal Service, for example, provides CardStore on their website

Customers create personalized cards that USPS prints and mails to their family, friends and loved ones. If you make a mistake, you delete it. No need to toss the card and start over.

You can choose your card design or make one of your own, choose the stamp and arrange the day you want the card mailed. Gift cards can be purchased at the same time saving you another step in your holiday gift giving. Your greeting and gift cards are sent together and you can store addresses and other information if you set up an account.
If you want to personally sign your holiday cards, they can be delivered directly to you to be sent out at a later date.

Environmentally friendly

USPS CardStore is powered by Ink2, a Forestry Stewardship Council-certified company, meaning they use legal logging practices, along with sustainable wood sources.

And don’t forget to recycle your cards if you’re not going to keep them. The website has all the information you’ll need to recycle cards and other mail.

This year, Hallmark introduced holiday boxed cards specially designed to have less impact on the environment. The boxed cards are printed on recycled or alternative papers, use fewer materials in packaging and are recyclable.

The company also has eliminated packaging components and reduced packaging size for all boxed cards resulting in a reduction in the total amount of raw materials used by about 20 to 25 percent. Boxes also can be recycled.
Christmas cards have been a part of our Christmas traditions for well over a century. They bring wishes of joy and health to those we know and love.

These holiday greetings give us the opportunity to honor our intentions to "keep in touch" with our friends and relatives. They bring joy to those who receive them, not just because of a beautiful illustration or inscription, but because they all say, "you are thought of.

About the Author

Marilyn Jones has been a journalist for more than 30 years and is currently a freelance feature writer specializing in travel. Her articles have appeared in major newspapers including the BostonGlobe, Akron Beacon Journal and Chicago Sun-Times as well as regional travel magazines.

Visit her website at