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Christmas Cards in Decline

Home - by - December 24, 2012 - 17:45 America/New_York - 18 Comments

(along with America. Oof!)

from Chicago Tribune

If it seems like you’re getting fewer holiday cards this year, don’t worry. Chances are it has nothing to do with your popularity.

The practice of sending Christmas cards is fading, collateral damage of the digital age.

After experiencing slowing growth since 2005, Christmas card sales declined in 2009. While the drop was slight, 0.4 percent, according to research firm Mintel International Group, evidence is building that the next generation of correspondents is unlikely to carry on the tradition with the same devotion as their parents.

The rise of social networking, smart phones and Apple iPads is changing the way friends and family stay in touch, diminishing the Christmas card’s long-standing role as the annual social bulletin.

“People are up to date all the time on Facebook,” said Kit Yarrow, a Golden Gate University professor who studies the 20- and 30-somethings of the Generation Y culture. “Gen Yers are notorious for not sending thank you notes and not RSVPing. I just think that method of communication is foreign to them. And that doesn’t bode well for the future of holiday cards.”

Americans sent more than 1.8 billion Christmas cards through the mail last year, according to greeting card industry statistics. That figure is expected to drop to 1.5 billion this holiday season. Facebook, for its part, passed the 500 million member milestone in July.

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A British businessman is credited with creating the Christmas card in 1843 — as a way to save time. Too busy to write a personal holiday greeting, Henry Cole hired a well-known London artist to design a card he could send to all his acquaintances, according to a version of the story recounted by greeting card maker Hallmark Cards Inc. Louis Prang, a German immigrant, is said to have brought the Christmas card tradition to America in 1875, printing a card depicting Killarney roses and the words Merry Christmas.

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Admittedly, my Christmas card is way late this year and will likely land in mailboxes on the east coast just before New Years. I still send them and enjoy getting them-including the long winded “this is what we did last year” family letter. We’ve received half number of cards than we did last year and I wonder if we’ll get any next year. My little Christmas card basket is rather empty this year- yours? Dang you Facebook.

» 18 Comments

  1. old_oaks

    December 24th, 2012

    Christmas cards have been a thorn in my side ever since I can remember. They usually came with some stipulation that at a later date I was expected to write a thank you letter because they included a check. It wasn’t good enough to say thank you over the phone.

    Then kids came along and we needed to set up some stupid photography pose the kids would never agree to. It always ended in me taking the camera and retreating to quieter quarters, finally the ol’ lady would get a decent enough shot. Then I’d have to get it off the camera and onto a disc so she could make cards out of the picture. A major undertaking as she’d always want it done at the least convenient time, but sorry we’re late because the kids wouldn’t sit still and the dog hates the cat!

    This year, the discussion never came up, I couldn’t be happier.

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  2. F.D.R. in Hell

    December 24th, 2012

    Hoover was the first US President to send out informal Christmas Cards in 1931 to friends and staff, but I made it a tradition in 1937 by sending out engraved cards. Eisenhower sent the first “official” White House Christmas card with the Presidential Seal in 1953. Typical Republican, he mailed over 1,000 to Congress, American ambassadors, and foreign dignitaries.

    Here’s mine from 1944…

    http://www.whitehouseholidays.com/whhimages/800/4954.jpg

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  3. Eleanor in Hell

    December 24th, 2012

    I see Ebenezer Scrooge has been reincarnated in old_oaks.
    You’ll be visited tonight by Three Ghosts: Teddy Kennedy, Jimmy Hoffa, and Al Capone.
    They’ll change your mind. ;-)

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  4. illustr8r

    December 24th, 2012

    I’m not a big Facebooker and I see the reason to send egreetings and all but I like to reading a short hello, best wishes with a handwritten signature. Look a real human wrote that!

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  5. old_oaks

    December 24th, 2012

    Yup Eleanor! I liken today’s Christmas cards to a display of ugly kids I don’t know.

    Used to be they had a nice little scene of a cabin in woods with lights on and roaring fire, maybe a couple deer or squirrels.

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  6. Mary Jane Anklestraps

    December 24th, 2012

    I like the greeting cards, I like getting actual letters and I like actual books, too. I’m a weirdo I guess. :D

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  7. Kairn

    December 24th, 2012

    I love Christmas cards. Always have. As a child I always enjoyed looking at and reading the nice notes family and acquaintances of my parents wrote to them. Handwritten, personal, thoughtful. This was before those horrible impersonal family Christmas letters came on the scene. When people some how managed to eke out precious time in their busy lives to sit own and jot down short missives to all their friends and family.

    When it didn’t seem like an annual chore, but an honor. When it was a heartfelt way of showing their friends and family that they were thought of in a dear manner all year ’round expressed in its best form at Christmas time.

    How utterly selfish and stingy so many of us have become of late with our time and sentiments towards those who mean the most to us. None of us knows when anyone’s last Christmas will be, including your own. Write!

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  8. Roadmaster

    December 24th, 2012

    We sent out 30-40 and received 30-40, which is surprising to me because it seems most of the people I know can’t read, much less write more than 30 characters. Us old people still do cards, but when we’re gone, so will the tradition be gone.

    What I cannot stand is the Christmas letters – blah, blah, blah, brag, brag, me, me, us, aren’t we wunnerful? Although I did get one from a nephew which was clever, colorful, informative without being boastful and appropriately religious. Maybe there’s hope.

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  9. Illustr8r

    December 24th, 2012

    I sent out 55 cards. I’ve gotten maybe 18 total. My cousin quit sending cards when she was unemployed for 2 years and was living off her savings. Cards were frivolous. I blame Obamanomics.

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  10. Claudia

    December 24th, 2012

    Illustr8r, that’s why I stopped. Cards or mortgage, cards or mortgage. Gee, guess it’s mortgage!

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  11. hi_desertgirl

    December 25th, 2012

    In the past I bought cards, filled them with personal notes, addressed them, stamped them…and then failed to send them out. One year my husband put me on “restriction” from Christmas cards knowing my horrible habit.

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  12. [...] iOwnTheWorld.com » Blog Archive » Christmas Cards in Decline [...]

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  13. Adam

    December 25th, 2012

    Facebook passed the 500m mark in July…OF 2010.

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  14. Adam

    December 25th, 2012

    And yeah Illustr8r, Obama is the reason you were out of work for 2 years. God forbid any blame be placed on a horrible president, George Bush, who actually helped to CAUSE the econmonic collapse. Obama wasn’t in office when shit started rolling down hill, and unemployment has gone DOWN since then. So blame nobody but yourself.

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  15. Adam

    December 25th, 2012

    Just realized this article was from 2010…the original. I was looking at the date at the top of this page. Also, Illustr8r, I just realized you said your cousin was out of work. Still can’t blame Obama for that.

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  16. Mary Jane Anklestraps

    December 25th, 2012

    “Obama wasn’t in office when shit started rolling down hill, and unemployment has gone DOWN since then. So blame nobody but yourself.”

    Unemployment has gone DOWN?
    LOLOL.
    Oy.

    “BOOOOOSH!”

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  17. IronyCurtain

    December 25th, 2012

    Adam got Obama kneepads for Christmas.

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  18. Mary Jane Anklestraps

    December 25th, 2012

    LOL Irony.
    That boy is gonna need a neck brace.

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