If receiving Christmas cards were a hobby, it would be a hobby I’d embrace and never let go of.
I’ve always preferred receiving Christmas cards to birthday cards. They’ve always been more important to me, but over the years have caused me a few dilemmas. Do you recognise any of these?
How to display Christmas cards
My parents always strung Christmas cards along our lounge’s longest wall. I’d stand underneath the line and count them every day. And if any of the cards overlap, I’d make it known so they could be adjusted. I wanted every Christmas card to give the same pleasure to visitors as I got out of them over the festive period.
I’d tell my school friends how many Christmas cards we had and keep a record of the number every year. The most we ever got was 106. So many that the line they hung on came down. I cried so much that my parents had to console me with chocolate.
Don’t hang too many Christmas cards on one line. If they are overlapping, put up another line.
These days, we display cards on a card rack. The overlapping doesn’t seem to bother me as much as it used to. However, I seem to prioritise those cards I see as more festive, so they don’t get pushed to the back of the rack.
How do you display Christmas cards?
Christmas at school
During my early schooling years, my class would send Christmas cards to each other. Back then, Christmas cards came in different sizes in one box. The first dilemma was matching the correct-sized envelope to the right card.
Usually, you’d end up with a couple of cards that didn’t fit the envelopes you had left or, on rare occasions, have cards left with no envelopes.
These days, Christmas cards seem to come in packs and are all the same size, so the dilemma of matching envelopes with cards has gone. But if you don’t have enough envelopes, dig out the spare cards from last Christmas. It’s unlikely people remember what Christmas card you sent them last year.
Christmas cards for school friends
We’d make a pillar box out of cardboard, cotton wool, paints and some sticky-back plastic. We were all encouraged to post Christmas cards into the box, and on the last day before the Christmas holidays, our teacher would sort them and distribute them out.
I’d always be super excited to get a pile of cards with my name proudly written on the front of the envelopes. I’d open them all before rushing home to hang them with the rest of the cards, careful not to snap the line.
If there wasn’t enough room on the line, I had to wait patiently for my father to put another up. Sometimes, this could take days, and I’d get frustrated that my cards were not on display.
After Christmas, I’d keep the cards I liked the most and make gift tags out of them for the following Christmas.
Did you send Christmas cards to your classmates?
The first Christmas card
The first Christmas card was sent in 1843. Back then, there were no signs of robins, snow, Christmas stockings or Father Christmas on them. Most cards showed people drinking, eating and being merry.
It wasn’t until the 1870s that Christmas cards began to display some of the festive images we see today.
Back in the 1970s (when I was sending cards to those in my class), I loved certain cards. These include the ones I thought were associated with Christmas. Those showing scenes that had Father Christmas, Christmas stockings, robins, snow, and Christmas trees were my favourites.
And then there were cards I didn’t particularly like because I thought they had nothing to do with Christmas. These included ones with scenes of horse-drawn carriages, fox hunting, St Paul’s Cathedral, or a hand-drawn poinsettia.
My favourite classmates always got the cards I associated with Christmas, but my dilemma was who should get the cards I didn’t like. Easy! The classmates I didn’t bother with much (or those I didn’t particularly like) got the boring ones. Back then, you could always tell who didn’t like you much from the type of card they sent you (or so I thought).
Back in the early 20th century, some Christmas cards were like postcards. Many years ago, I picked up some on eBay. This one is my favourite.
Postmarked Dec 24th 1912, I love the humour on this postcard. I’m not sure it would go down well these days. What do you think?
I can’t make out the postmark on this postcard, but the stamp on it tells me it’s from the U.S.A.
And here’s another early one from the U.S.A., postmarked Dec 23rd 1913.
Postal addresses were so short back then.
The best era for Christmas cards
In my opinion, the 1980s were the best era for Christmas cards. Here are a few of my favourites.
I have a scrapbook that includes some of my favourite Christmas cards.
The boyfriend dilemma
Finally, here’s a Christmas card from 1988 that was sent to me by my then-boyfriend.
Unfortunately, Bob went on to break my heart on New Year’s Eve, yet I kept the Christmas card he sent me. I wonder why?
I hope you enjoyed my brief history of the Christmas card.
Do you send and enjoy receiving Christmas cards? Have you ever had any dilemmas with them? Share them in the comments section.
This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated and republished.
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