Christmas Cards – a dying art?

Christmas cards. Who sends them? Who likes them? Until a few years ago, I didn’t really bother.

Growing up, I remember my mum used to string them up on the wall above or near the Christmas tree. There was generally a trail of them coming in from early December from relatives and friends far and near. Living a long way from family, I know it was a nice way to keep in touch with people we didn’t see much. For some people, I think it might have been about the only contact we had all year – just a way a to say hi, thinking of you. Women of my mother’s generation sent newsletters covering events over the past twelve months. I always liked those. You’d know who’d had a baby, who got married and maybe there was a snapshot or two thrown in.

I think those days are mostly gone. Or are they?

A couple of years ago I decided I liked the idea of making my own cards using a photo I’ve taken during the year. The photos aren’t Christmas themed – but I try and choose something bright and floral, something that captures the summer, since it’s not winter here and we have no reindeer or snowy landscapes.

One year I used this paper daisy.

Paper daisy

The next year, I used a photo of our calistemon, or bottle brush flower. I was really pleased with this one. The red flower with the little gold tips seemed really festive to me.


I’ve got my cards made up for this year but thus far have failed to feel inspired to write them. Even though I’m only planning a handful, it seems like a serious committment of time I don’t have much of at the moment.

And I find myself wondering if Christmas cards are still meaningful to more than a handful of people? I asked around the office, on facebook, on twitter and got a few replies back indicating that for most people, they’re not a priority. Those who said they do send them said they like to try and write cards that don’t sound hollow, but that that’s a challenge. I know that feeling. I’ve never been one to write simply Dear X, Merry Christmas, From Y. That seems like wasted effort to me. I like to write something personal, individual.

I think the art of a good card is not something we should lose. So I will write them, and the ones going overseas will be late but as they say, better late than never. Or is it?

Are christmas cards dying out? I know Americans don’t even call them that anymore, right? Americans say ‘holiday cards’ to encompass a season in which not everyone celebrates a Christian festival. That’s not how I approach it – to me it’s still Christmas, even if the Christian element of it isn’t particularly true for me – but if someone sent me a card reflecting their own faith or other celebration, that would be fine too.

Here’s my card for this year.


It’s an apricot blossom photo from a couple of months ago. It’d be a shame not to send them now I’ve gone to the trouble of making them.

Do you have thoughts on Christmas cards? I’d really like to know.



22 thoughts on “Christmas Cards – a dying art?

  1. There’s only a couple of people who get Christmas cards from me. My grandparents always get one, and I go to great pains to find them a really nice card. This backfired slightly one year, as my grandmother deemed the card so nice that she scanned it and kept a copy for herself, and sent the original back to me. It happened a few years ago now, but it still makes me chuckle.

    We receive few Christmas cards, but I don’t mind at all.

    Your cards are very pretty though, I must say. I like that you use photos from your garden. Tis a lovely idea!

  2. Well, I have a bit of a problem when Christmas comes. I find myself feeling depressed about my fragmented (large)family, and then I go into feeling-sorry-for-myself mode. The soloution seems to be; not to take it too seriously. To be occupied with other things and just allow Christmas to float on by, participating as little or as much as I want to without offending anyone. I love photography, so making my own Christmas cards gives me pleasure. So, I do it. I am not too fussed about receiving cards, and never put them up. As long as no one is upset, that’s how I deal with it. This year I am planning to visit my precious sister in Scotland, and actually looking forward to it! However we may not make it, as Gatwick airport will need to be open. It’s closed today. Let’s see!!
    Best wishes

  3. I love to get cards – it is part of Xmas!

    I am a bit random – sometimes write a lot, and send piccies, other years just the basics.

    Ii get a few from rellies. but then I have several aunties who still write letters, don’t do email, and even still take film photos.

  4. your cards are lovely, yes, do send them! i’m afraid i’m rather old fashioned, and love the tradition of christmas cards – i string them up too. it’s so cheerful to receive them in the days leading up to christmas. i try to write something personal, or at least a handwritten greeting, but not stress to much about it. this year i (well, harvey norman actually) made cards with one of rex’s drawings on the front and a photo of the kids on the back (to save enclosing a snap).

  5. I do send cards, and they’re holiday cards. Generally I send them so they arrive at Hanukkah for that part of the family, and Christmas for the rest. This year, I’m doing New Year’s cards, because I don’t have the pictures I want for them yet. We always have a picture of the family, and whatever else was interesting during the year.

    It’s important to me to put a personal note on each card. And that’s what takes the most time!

    I love your flower cards.

  6. Thumbs up for the Christmas card. Although I don’t tend to personalize, I do like to send them out and — even better — get them. And with gorgeous photos like yours, you MUST share them. 🙂

  7. Thanks for bringing up this topic, and I love your summer flower cards! Like Mom, I put the Christmas cards (US and Christmas!) on the entry closet door. But this year, I only have 3 so far 😦 Every year, I keep the photo cards and newsletters, and put them in the box with the ribbons and trimmings. Its fun to see how everyone’s families are changing! I always enjoy others’ newsletters, especially from those who I don’t see often. 3 yrs ago I moved a few states away, and wrote my first newsletter. I was going to skip that this year, but started to write an email to my sister-in-law whom I never see and only talk with a few times a year. I thought, ‘Well, there’s the start of the newsletter!’, pasted it into word, and deleted the email. She’s gotten it now along with everyone else and a few additional pics of my kid. I thought of not sending to those who don’t send to me, but then I decided that I’d rather send them to those special old friends who I just don’t have much contact with anymore except on FB. I haven’t stopped at the post office for a few days, and am really hoping to have a few more when I do! Keep ’em coming, ladies!

  8. Well, you’ve all made me feel like Scrooge. I had decided to skip this year, but I think I’ll go downstairs and see what cards I can unearth, then pick up stamps when I’m out errand-ing, and crank out a newsletter this weekend.

    Love your flower cards, Bells. Do send them.

  9. I print off a photo of us, often with a Christmas carol title (Last year It was of me presenting my backside in a swimsuit. “Oh tan-a-bum” this year, it’s both of us on top of the Sydney Bridge. “Joy to the World!”) and on the other side, I include a newsletter of what we’ve done over the year. If I’m sending it to folks who keep track of us regularly, I send a blessing and good wishes for the new year. (May Santa bring you everything you have ever wished for, and may the new year be peaceful, prosperous and filled with nice little surprises.) Many people have said they look forward to our note.

    I adore getting cards and letters. It’s part of the Christmas merry! I have one friend who is very active in his church choir, and sends his cards out in February. It just stretches the season for me. It’s human contact. It’s someone who values me enough to spend a thought, a stamp, a dollar for a card, and the time to address it. It’s a token of affection. I love the cards with pictures (of anyone or anything) and the hand-made cards (one family I know did a potato-stamp project one summer day and used poster paint to print bells and holly on brown wrapping paper. The cards were utterly charming!!) I cover the front door with white paper and tape up the cards we receive. The growing assemblage is soooo cheery!

  10. I hadn’t even thought of Christmas cards (and yes, it’s Christmas cards) until just a short while ago. I love getting them and like letters, they’re dying out. I have boxes of letters from when Peter Kevin was in the navy that I can read now and remember what it felt like to be 20 yrs old and in love instead of 52 years old and in love. With the advent of emails, letters have fallen off the radar and that’s sad. I’d hate to see Christmas cards disappear so I’m going to get some while I’m out tonight and even if they’re late, I can let people know I’m thinking of them with affection and love.

  11. Oh, you should send them! I love the tradition and for years sent out a huge stack. I especially love getting pictures of children. But over the years, people have sent out fewer and fewer, so this year I’ cut my list down to the people who respond! It is a lot less work, but I think it’s sad that such a nice tradition is dying.

  12. Your flower photo cards are beautiful! I have mixed sentiments about Christmas cards (which is what I still call them, btw). On the one hand, does my neighbor really need a card (I usually send those picture cards of the kids) of kids she sees every day? And they are so much money and environmentally unfriendly to print and send. And, like you said, no one says much in them. Used to be, you’d write a little somethin’-somethin’. Now if people (myself included!) even sign it, you’re lucky. On the other, I do love seeing pics of kids/people I haven’t seen in awhile (or even ever, if they live far), and I love seeing how creative some people can be with their photos or cards. And then every once in a while, you do get a card someone has actually written something on! But yeah. I don’t know. We had decided to opt out this year, but then I chickened out at the last minute and am sending them after all! Craziness!

  13. I love giving and receiving cards all year round, and particularly enjoy the ‘yearly roundup’ variety around Christmastime. With blogs and facebook and all the other ways to keep in touch instantly, I think the act of sending something personal and tangible to a friend is more meaningful.

  14. i too like the “idea” of the tradition, but sometimes the practicality and production of it all just overwhelms me!

    I now have a small core group that I send to, with a brief update on our news for the year.

    out of interest, do you get your cards printed for you? and where?

  15. In years gone by I used to send heaps of Christmas cards to all my family, but sadly as the years have passed, so have most of my family passed on. This year for the first time I handmade all my Christmas cards and really enjoyed doing so. The response I have had
    has been wonderful, my friends were pleased with my effort, so I might continue sending
    cards for a few years yet.
    I like getting Christmas emails as well, and it is certainly more economical in the long
    run, the cards you made are lovely I would send them out, even if they are late after all it is the thought that counts, and people really do like to know you are in their thoughts at this time of year.

  16. I like to get christmas cards and I like to send them too. I don’t know that I will be this year, christmas has pretty well snuck up on me and time is an issue (well, it is especially if I want to get in some knitting every day!). But I might send a few (and husby has written his to his rellies already). I always try to add a personal blurb – length depends on how regularly I keep in touch with the recipient all year. And I usually include a favourite recipe. Don’t know if anyone ever cooks them, but it’s not a hard thing to do and I think it’s nice.

    I think I will start to include a newsletter thing. I’ve always found it a bit impersonal (ie a printed one, not handwritten, which is what I do now on each individual card). Makes it easier and can include photos etc too. And I like getting them from friends who I don’t see much, so I figure they’d like them too!

    I guess it’s only a dying tradition if we let it die?

  17. Well, I love your flower photos, and when I get one in the mail it’s such a nice slice of summer when it’s so frigid up here. (Not snowy yet, but holy cow it’s freaking cold!!) I realized, after I sent my overseas ones out, that it would have been nice to include a note, yes? On the other hand, I email with the overseas folks, and admit I sent them out both to say Happy Holidays (and I mean it!) and also because now that I don’t have a proper blog, y’all have no idea what my kids look like. And yes, I’m one of those people who send out holiday cards with my kids on them. I wonder, is that obnoxious? Or is it nice for people to get a picture of them? I haven’t decided. But I didn’t stage this year’s photo! I got a wonderful picture of them all way back in July, saw it on the camera, and said, “Well, that’s the Christmas card picture!”

    So long story short, yup, I send out cards, but not with long personal notes. And Jean’s comment reminded me I forgot to send one to my mom’s cousin, and I meant to, so thank you, Jean. I’m getting right on that!

    • I love the kids on cards thing although I prefer photos of kids on their own rather than the santa’s knee thing – just a personal preference. I’d love to have Alice on my christmas card but that’s taking the aunty thing a step too far perhaps!

  18. This year, my mother died. I felt it was my job to send cards to everyone on her list. The response has encouraged me to continue the tradition which I had sort of slowed down on in recent years. Some of those friends and relatives I will probably never see again, but I will remember them and wonder what they are doing. Christmas cards are a cool way of keeping up.

    I won’t be sending cards to the people who live next door, or that I see at work every day, but I do look forward to the keeping up with my past part of Christmas cards.

  19. Interesting topic! I gave up sending out a multitude of cards years ago. I did this because I realised that the people I sent them to were the ones I had little or no contact with at any time during the year.

    People who are near and dear to me (even if they don’t live close by), well, we are in contact throughout the year, and almost always catch up for lunch in the weeks before Christmas, so we feel there’s no real need for cards 🙂

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