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Long live the tradition of sending Christmas cards!

Around this time of year, it's easy to become so busy preparing 'the perfect Christmas' that we forget to send Christmas cards.

That's a shame as the excitement that comes with seeing your address in handwriting on the front of a festive themed envelope is a tactile reminder that you are thought of by someone, and I for one hope that this is a tradition that never dies.

Lots of people say that the reason they don’t do Christmas cards anymore is because they don’t have friends’ or family’s current address details and they haven’t got time to update their Christmas card lists. Well, White Pages address finder can help you track them down in moments, just type in the surname and the city where they last lived to get your search results. Have a look at our prices to see why White Pages offers the best value.

Hopefully we can convince you to dig out your best handwriting pen and a stack of suitably seasonal cards to send to friends and family this year. Just make sure you send them in time!

UK Christmas card last postage dates

If you are sending UK cards the important dates for 2016 are:
  • Friday 9th December - last postage date for letters to Santa
  • Tuesday 20th December - 2nd Class and Royal Mail Signed For,
  • Wednesday 21st December - 1st Class and Royal Mail Signed For, and
  • Thursday 22nd December 2016 - Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed
  • Friday 23rd December 2016 - Special Delivery Saturday Guaranteed
If it’s an international destination then the timescales are tighter. For what was Airmail the following apply:
  • Tuesday 8th December - Caribbean, Central & South America
  • Wednesday 7th December - Cyprus, Asia, Far East (including Japan), Eastern Europe (except Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia)
  • Thursday 8th December - Caribbean, Central & South America
  • Saturday 10th December - Greece, Australia, New Zealand
  • Wednesday 14th December - Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland
  • Thursday 15th December - Canada, Finland, Sweden, USA
  • Friday 16th December - Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland
  • Saturday 17th December - Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg
See the full list on the Royal Mail site

Five Great Reasons to send out Christmas Cards this year

One: People want to receive them

The biggest reason we've found to sent out cards is that 75% of people would still prefer to receive a traditional Christmas Card rather than an E-Card or social media message (1). It's an interesting figure as it hasn't moved much over the last few years

Two: Sending cards doesn't have to be a big job

Well, some good news. The average number of cards sent is between 15-20. So getting the list together, writing the cards and sending them doesn't have to take a lot of time. If you think people have moved you can use the White Pages address finder to easily update your list.

Three: Sending personal cards has never been easier

If you don't like the idea of sending shop bought cards then online card retailers allow you to personalise your cards with the recipients name, you can use your own photos and they can take care of postage as well.

Well worth a look.

Four: Christmas Cards are still popular

There's been a lot of speculation about whether posted, hardcopy cards are dying out - especially with a younger generation doing almost everything online - and in 2014 there were articles saying that Christmas Cards were dying out, but that's not the whole story. For example, the Greetings Card Association reported an increase in cards sold in 2015 and that 12% of cards sold were Christmas Cards. The rising cost of postage is definitely a factor and has prompted some people to hand deliver cards instead - espeially as the postage can cost more than the cards to send. But, as we said above, the majority of people still want to receive cards.

Five: Christmas Charity

Another great reason to send Christmas Cards is that they are a valuable fundraising method for charities so we hope it'll continue for a long time, but how did it all start?

The history of the Christmas card

The grand old tradition of sending Christmas cards began in the year 1843 in London with Sir Henry Cole. During the 1800’s Sir Henry Cole was an innovator, who sought to, in his own words ‘beautify life.’ Aside from running an art shop on Bond Street, managing the construction of the Albert Hall and organising the Great Exhibition of 1851, Cole also revolutionised the British postal system, making it more affordable for the common man. Cole at the time was also very keen to encourage ordinary people to use the new Public Post Office’ more frequently and so the concept of the Christmas card was born.

Cole commissioned a respected illustrator, John Calcott Horsley to design a card that he could send to friends and acquaintances to wish them a happy Christmas. The very first Christmas card design featured a party scene with food and drink and featured two side panels depicting the good deeds of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor. The message on the front of the card read, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.” One of these first ever Christmas Cards, the one he sent to his grandmother in fact, sold at auction for £22,500.

Many critics of the Christmas card concept believed it to be a passing fad. But by 1880 thousands of cards were being sent and the Christmas card became one of the steadfast festive traditions that millions of people throughout the world still look forward to today.

Christmas card designs through the ages

As the popularity of the Christmas card rose, so did the amount of opportunities for writers, artists, printers and engravers. Earlier Christmas cards featured fanciful pictures of things like flowers and fairies in order to remind the recipient that spring will soon be on its way.

Scenes with animals and children were also popular, as was experimenting with different card shapes, printing methods and materials used, such as decorative fringes of silk and satin. During the wars of the 20th Century, Christmas card designs took on a patriotic edge in order to remind people of their absent friends and family during the Christmas season. By the 1950’s, humorous Christmas cards had come into vogue, and now cards featuring a joke on the front have remained one of the most popular styles of Christmas card that many people favour at this time of year.

In America, many people use the tradition of exchanging Christmas Cards to update their friends and family on their goings on for that year. These cards typically feature a photograph of the entire family stood against a Christmassy backdrop and the message inside will normally be a long-form written piece recounting the sender’s progress in their careers, their children’s achievements in school, and any other relevant family events they feel the need to share with everyone they know.

In Britain, we tend to favour secular card designs, as brand auditors, Nielsen found. In their survey of card retailers and supermarkets, they found that only 66 (1.2%) of the 5,706 Christmas card designs available on our high-streets in 2012, featured scenes from the Nativity.

On the whole, popular designs in this country include humorous cards, pictures of Santa and his reindeer, wintery scenes with sprinklings of glitter and pictures of red post-boxes and robins.

Robins, aside from being very cute and Christmassy looking with their red breasts, are actually a reference to the ‘Robin Redbreast’ label that postmen of the Victorian era were given on account of the red waistcoats they wore as part of their Royal Mail uniform at the time.

You can re-use last years cards

Using old cards in a craft project is a great family activity, there are some great ideas on Chrissy Gibsons, Things to do with Christmas Cards Pinterest Board.

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1 - according to Royal Mail research in 2015