As we enter into the last month of 2023, the question that often gets asked is, “Will you be sending out holiday cards this year?” If your answer is “NO,” then the follow-up inquiry should be, “Why not?”
There is something to be said of participating in this endeavor.
Gestures of goodwill for Christmas go back well over 1,000 years. However, the commercial sending of Christmas cards did not start until 1843. Sir Henry Cole, with the help of his artist friend John Callcott Horsley, designed, printed, and sold 2,050 cards in London (you can view that picture in this story.) This type of commercially printed greeting card did not come to the United States until three decades later, in 1874.
The popularity of the Christmas card really took off in the US, with the outbreak of World War I. There was an increasing demand for different and more personal cards that people could send to their loved ones fighting the war overseas. Joyce Hall and her brother, Rollie, had created Hallmark Cards in 1913, and were well-positioned to meet that demand. Hallmark became and still is one of the largest greeting card companies in the world.
Over the years, the popularity of greeting cards extended to everyday events such as birthdays, anniversaries, and expressions of sympathy. Additional cards for a variety of other holidays also emerged, including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and many others. Even now, the Christmas card remains number one. In fact, according to the Greeting Card Association, about 60% of ALL holiday greeting cards sent are for the Christmas season. By comparison, the second most popular card-sending holiday is Valentine’s Day, which only accounts for about 25% of the seasonal cards sent.
The sending of Christmas cards, in some ways, has become a part of our culture, here in the US. When someone has a falling out with another person, we often hear phrases like, “He’s (or she’s) not on my Christmas card list this year!”
Even today, with technology changing many of the ways we communicate, there are still about 1.6 BILLION Christmas cards delivered each year! Eight out of 10 people recently surveyed and agreed that greeting cards cannot be replaced by social media. The digital age may have slowed the growth of greeting cards, but it does not appear to be a tradition that is going away anytime soon.
While the special joy of the Christmas season may be the main reason it is the number one card-sending holiday, it is also important to note that Christmas aligns with the symbolic changing of the calendar year. Many of our cards read “Merry Christmas & Happy New Year,” or the more generic, “Season’s Greetings.” Even non-religious countries or people who do not celebrate Christmas like we Americans do, often send out holiday greetings emphasizing the New Year. The ending of the current year and the beginning of a new one reminds us to be thankful for what happened this past year, and to look forward to what the next year might bring. This special time, that only occurs once a year, is a time for special communication. An email or text, or a social media post alone, often translate well.
“The greeting card stands the test of time, as the perfect way to express our best wishes to the important people in our world,” said Bob Salvas, who is affiliated with Mailbox Power. He works with clients on sending out cards to commemorate all occasions.
What does all this mean for our respective businesses? It simply means that we should still be sending holiday cards at this time of year! It is more important than ever to connect with and keep in touch with our clients and prospects. The end of the year is the perfect time to express your gratitude to them. If you celebrate Christmas, it is fine to send a traditional Christmas card. If you don’t, or don’t feel that is what your clients want to hear, you can always send them a different seasonal message. Sending that message in a tangible greeting card—becomes noticed, memorable, and most importantly, appreciated.
“I’m not saying that digital communication is bad. I believe it is essential as part of your communication arsenal. But using a tangible touch with a printed card sent in the mail will separate you from the clutter. It will show you care.”
-Kody Bateman, The Power of Human Connection
An interesting side note: While technology has given us many new ways to communicate, it has also helped us communicate easier when using the older communication methods. Online services exist today that will design, print, and mail physical greeting cards for you. No staying up late and affixing postage stamps to 200 envelopes! Websites like MAILBOX POWER allow you to send those Christmas cards from your computer or tablet.
Bob Salvas is a marketing and business advisor, a professional development consultant for the RI Builders Association, the coordinator of MOMENTUM NETWORKING.