Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Cards

We can thank the U.K. for starting the traditional Christmas card tradition.

In 1843, Sir Henry Cole, who was a senior civil servant, set up what would become known in later years as the Post Office. At the time, it was called the Public Record Office, and Sir Cole was an Assistant Keeper. He pondered the question of how ordinary people could benefit from this office of records.

He pooled his ponderance with the artistic talents of John Horsely, and they designed the very first Christmas card. Capitalism being what it is, they sold the cards for a shilling apiece, which comes out to a eight cents in today’s money.

This image is of the first Christmas card, and it depicts the poor being helped in the outer panels and the center panel gave us a glimpse of a traditional Christmas dinner with all of the trimmings and all of the family members.

Even before Twitter, someone was offended by the image and expressed outrage publicly. It shows a small child partaking in a sip of wine. There were only 1,000 of these cards printed and sold, so you can imagine the worth they have to a collector today.

As people began to use the new postal system, the idea of Christmas cards soon became popular among the masses. Since the original postal system was expensive, only rich people could afford to send mail or cards, but thanks to the help from Sir Cole, the Penny Post was created.  That was for the rest of us to use.

The Penny Post (the price of a stamp) was made possible by the invention of the railways, which allowed the mail to move at a lower price than the traditional horse and wagon. The half-penny card could be sent cheaper since the envelope was unsealed.

In 1860, the first mass produced Christmas cards were introduced to the public and the post office treated them like post cards and only charged a half penny.

The cards were usually created with nativity scenes, but as those fun loving Victorians came around, the cards began to depict birds like robins, snow scenes that reminded them of past bad winters and other Victorian type art. The postal workers were even called the Robin postmen since they wore red uniforms.

By the 1840, America got in on the act and started to send Christmas cards, but only the wealthy could afford to send cards.

A printer by the name of Louis Prang, who was originally from Germany and worked on the first cards, became the first to mass produce cards in the United States that were affordable for everyone. He liked plants, flowers and children on his cards.

In 1915, John C. Hall and his two brothers started what would become known as Hallmark cards.

The very first personalized Christmas cards were sent from Annie Oakley to her family and friends in the United States. She happened to be in Scotland at Christmas and had cards made that featured her photo on the front. She was wearing tartan.

From there, it became common to create your own Christmas cards. These cards were more fragile than the commercially printed ones, so they were usually hand delivered.

We can thank the Danes for the custom of using seals from charities to close the envelope. They saw the cards as a perfect way to help charities get donations and make the envelopes more colorful. That was a suggestion from a postal employee in the early 1900s, and the first year they sold the seals, the charities sold over four million.  From there, it took off across Europe and across the ocean to the United States.

Whether you make your own cards or send commercially produced cards, you are letting loved ones know that you wish them the best for the holiday. Another way to shower them with love and affection is to buy them a handmade gift from talented artists like the ones below:

Bar necklace

Andrea Designs 

Flower Pendant Beaded Crochet Necklace with Earrings

RSS Designs in Fiber 

Ford Mustang 8 x 10 Wood Wall Art Portrait Handmade From 3mil Birch plywood

Kevs Krafts 

Dark Indigo Blue Swarovski Crystals and Gold Filled Earrings

Victorian Style Treasures 

Chai earrings within a Star of David Charm Jewish Earrings - Blue and White


Crocheted Loden Sweater w Hood Baby Boy Navy Blue 18-24 mo

Magdalene Knits 

Knit Hat, Unisex Beanie, Slouchy Hat

Crafting Memories 1 

Montana Blue Crystal Teardrop and White Pearl

Kats All That 

Exotic Wood, Afzelia Pendant Faceted Agate Beaded Necklace


Dragonfly Earrings, Pewter Swirling Blue Handmade Jewelry Gift Women

Shadow Dog Designs 

Cobalt Blue Earrings

Pretty Gonzo 

Navy Blue Pearl And Clear Crystal Beaded Bracelet

The Singing Beader 

Handmade Lampwork Glass Beads, Ink Blue Etched Matte Frosted 058e

Covergirl Beads 

Blue and Yellow Flower Handmade polymer clay earrings

Blue Morning Expressions 

In addition to these fantastic gift selections, each of these artists have their own shops filled with more gift ideas, so be sure and stop and shop with each one.

If you see  something you like, buy it now or forever lose it as handmade gifts sell out quickly!

Shop from these additional countdowns and pages:

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 1

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 2

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 3

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 4

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 5

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 6

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 7

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 8

Countdown to Christmas 2019 Week 9

Christmas Traditions – The Candy Cane

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Carols

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Bells

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Candles

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Lights

Christmas Traditions – The Pickle

Christmas Traditions – The Poinsettia

Christmas Traditions – Christmas Trees

Don’t see the perfect gift? Ask an artist to help you design something.

Shop now!



  1. I love reading your so very interesting Christmas Tradition stories. Who knew Political Correctness was evident a century ago. Thanks for sharing, and including my little Loden Sweater among your Countdown choices.

  2. Another interesting history lesson, Julie (and also had to chuckle a few times at your use of words!). Many thanks for including y dragonfly earrings in with the rest of the beauties. Will share the post far and wide and will pin and do some tweeting for the items. treats to Handsome Harry from the Yodeling Moose.

  3. More interesting and educational information regarding our Christmas holidays. Thank you so much for the research and putting this together, as well as for promoting us. I appreciate you including my blue crystal teardrop earrings. Will promote all.

  4. Hmmm. I did not know that about the Christmas card. Thank you, Julie for including my knit hat. Shared everywhere.

  5. Very interesting about how the Christmas card developed, Julie. Thank you for showing a gorgeous array of blue colored handmade goods, including my bracelet.

  6. Julie,

    Very informative about the origin of the X-mas cards. Thank you for the extra promo. All the items were shared in Twitter using hashtag #bmecountdown, in Pinterest pining to 2019-Gifts Countdown to Christmas board and Christmas Countdown Gifts board.

  7. This is such a lovely post - thank you, Julie and Harry Pup! And thanks for including my lampwork earrings. Will be pinning everything to my BME Countdown board. I'm running behind, but will catch up. :) Thanks again!

  8. Such an interesting post about the beginning of Christmas cards. I'm late, but shared all to #bmecountdown and on Facebook.

  9. Interesting History of Christmas Cards (and the Post Office?), Julie - thank you for sharing Handmade for Holiday Gifts - including my "RSS Designs In Fiber Crochet Necklace and Earrings Set"!