Xmas cards have been around forever but the origins of the modern version are to be found with Sir Henry Cole, first director of the Victoria & Albert Museum. Sir Henry would hand write greetings and best wishes to his family, friends, and acquaintances on sheets of paper decorated with Christmas themes or generic holiday cards.
He found this inefficient, dare I say tiresome, and in 1843 commissioned a Christmas card with a single message that could be duplicated and sent to everyone on his list. The card was produced with the Words "A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU" written across the bottom half. This expression was to become the "standard' Christmas card message.
Making cards is part of the anticipation & excitement running up to Xmas. I have had cards printed by big printers, Vista & the like, but it is hard to work in their colour gamuts & the finished product never seems to be as luminous & colourful as beautiful photographic paper. Some photographers print their photos & then attach them to cards to get around this problem.
I love to print my own cards all in one & have done some "doozies" over the years. It is a challenge to find good thick hardy double sided photo paper which comes with printing profiles (I suppose one could always have a profile made specifically for the paper although it would be an expensive exercise for cards once a year). Canson Ragphotographique Duo 220GSM does a fine line of matt photo paper which prints, cuts & folds well. I have recently sourced some double sided gloss varieties but have yet to try them out - Permajet Oyster 285GSM double sided shows promise. Then there is the challenge of cutting them - my kingdom for a good guillotine! ( I am actually very happy with Rotatrim which has a very heavy self-sharpening blade & never seems to feather the edges - good solid & British made, just like Sir Henry. Glitter glue is also a fave - the least expensive but essential component. $2 shops seem to have the monopoly and the colour range increases every year. Keeping a steady hand & not allowing great gobs of glitter to form as you outline the all important part is the challenge! ( on my card the text is glittered in red so you need to use your imagination when viewing this post) Sir Henry was a bit lazy I fear - I like to write my own messages in addition to the standard. I still use snail mail to send them & look forward to opening our mail to find the treasures sent by friends & family. I love the ritual of stringing them up across the window as defacto decorations to be admired each day as we count down to Xmas.
The art of sending Xmas cards seems to be dying, sadly. The next generation, joined at the hip to tablet technology, may ultimately have an entirely virtual Xmas. But the underlying premise of social media is not dissimilar to that of Sir Henry Cole in 1843. That said, this year, while I have again printed my cards & mailed them out, I have decided to join the "Sir Henry efficiency push" (& the next generation) & publish my card on line. Real paper & a bespoke card or cyber creation, the wish to all remains: Merry Xmas & my heartfelt thanks for your friendship & support over the year.