The holiday card: Five creative spins on the timeless tradition
Dec 19, 2012, 8:14 a.m.
Is the idea of filling out and sending your holiday cards this year feeling more like a grim obligation than a joyful message of the season? Maybe it is time to add a new creative spin to this tradition.
Holiday cards have been around for well over a century. The first were produced in England in 1843. The second year of their existence, 25,000 of them were sold. Americans had to import their Christmas cards until 1875, when a German immigrant began printing the first American Christmas cards.
Today, millions of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and other holiday cards are sold each year. The average family sends an average of 28 of them to friends and relatives.
There is no one accepted tradition for holiday cards. For instance, some of the originals were controversial because they featured people giving a Christmas toast; some people found the association of alcohol and Christmas upsetting. The first American cards had images of birds and flowers rather than the pine trees, snow and holly we associate with the holiday season today.
With such an eclectic history, there is no "wrong" way to send a holiday greeting. But try out our tips below to add a bit of life to this year's holiday cards:
Consider sending Thanksgiving cards instead of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa or generic holiday cards. Everyone gets so many cards around the winter holidays that they all turn into a blur. Instead of adding to the winter holiday stack, send cards to your loved ones in late November to let them know how thankful you are to have them in your life. The unexpected early greeting will be sure to leave them touched.
Want to show your kids that you know how to work the digital camcorder they gave you last Christmas or Hanukah? Create a holiday video greeting. If you are not great at offhand speaking, try writing down a few notes or just have everyone in the household say a quick hello. You can edit your video with simple free software. YouTube and other video-sharing sites have options that let you make videos private so you can control who gets an invitation.
Create your own handmade cards for Christmas or Hanukah. Craft stores sell inexpensive blank cards that you can decorate as you wish. Use stamps, bits of fabric, paint and more to make one-of-a-kind cards that your family will cherish. Creating cards is also a great activity to share with visiting grandchildren.
Get creative with your holiday portraits. Instead of the usual rigid smiles by the fireplace, try something quirky and unusual. For instance, pull on your Halloween costumes for one more day or put everyone in Groucho Marx glasses. This approach lets you share your unique personality with those you love. This can even become a family tradition, which will make loved ones anticipate your cards every year.
Hire a local artist to paint an image for your holiday cards. A picture of your house, a beloved pet, or a favorite sort of winter scene are all great subject matters. Once the image is completed, a store like Staples or Walgreens can have it put onto cards for you.
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