Increased Importance Of Christmas Cards in 2020

In a year tinged by separation and restriction, more than half of Britons (55%) believe that sending Christmas cards to loved ones is more important than ever, according to new Royal Mail research.

One in ten (11%) UK adults plan to send up to ten more Christmas cards this year than they usually do, as a direct result of lockdown restrictions.

Of those who do plan to send more cards, the results showed little difference between age groups. 15 per cent of 18-24 year olds will be sending more Christmas cards this year, compared to just under one in ten (8%) of those aged fifty five plus.

The Enduring Appeal Of The Christmas Card

Three quarters (75%) of UK adults believe that sending a Christmas card is a more meaningful way of letting loved ones know that you are thinking of them than a social media message or a text. Previously released figures reveal that more than six in ten (64%) also preferred receiving a Christmas card over any other form of festive greeting, including via social media (4%), text message (3%) or even face-to-face (19%).

Moreover, when asked why Christmas cards are so synonymous with the festive season, over half (53%) love displaying them in their homes. 45% look forward to reading the messages inside, and 45% also enjoy the particular thrill of receiving something through the post[1].

Just under half (46%) of 18-24 year olds prefer Christmas cards as a way of spreading festive cheer than via any other medium, including text (38%) and WhatsApp messages (24%)[2].

 

London, the East of England, the North West and the East Midlands (12%) are where most people plan to send additional Christmas cards this year, as a result of lockdown restrictions. Figures released in 2018 also suggest that the residents of Newcastle (91%), Birmingham (86%), and Leeds (86%) place the most value on Christmas cards in the UK[3].

 

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The Christmas Card List Of 2020

Loved ones living on their own are key priorities for the nation’s Christmas card lists this year. Extended family members living outside the sender’s household are most likely to receive a card (71%), followed by friends (65%), parents, current or ex work colleagues (25%), grandparents (17%) and great-grandparents (2%).

Local postmen or women are also popular additions, along with other community key workers, including nurses, doctors and teachers.

Mark Street, Head of Campaigns at Royal Mail commented: “This has been an immensely challenging and sometimes isolating year for so many, which is why it is more important than ever to find a truly meaningful way of letting loved ones know that you are thinking of them – even if you can’t be there in person. There’s something inherently festive and heart-warming about sending and receiving a physical card through the post, that someone has lovingly taken the time to write. Put simply, sometimes a letter or card is better.”

Festive wordsmiths are reminded to post their letters and cards with enough time to spare for Christmas. The last posting date for 2nd Class mail is Friday 18th December, and Monday 21st December 2020 for 1st Class mail. For Special Delivery, it is Wednesday 23rd December.

A History Of Christmas Cards

  • Across Europe, people have distributed wood prints with religious themes for Christmas since the Middle Ages.
  • The custom of sending Christmas cards as we know them today started in Britain from 1840, when the first “Penny Post” public postal deliveries began,
  • The first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole who had helped to introduce the Penny Post service three years earlier. It was designed by John C Horsley. It was printed and then hand-coloured. 
  • One of the original 1,000 cards sent is also the most valuable in the world, according to Guinness World Records. The card, which was originally sent by Sir Henry Cole to his grandmother in 1843, was sold at an auction in Devizes, Wiltshire for £20,000 on 24 November 2001. Another was sold in December 2005 for £8,500.
  • By 1860, the custom of sending Christmas cards was well established in Britain, and cards became more accessible.
  • The late 19th Century saw the creation of increasingly intricate designs, often highlighting the celebration of Christmas. Cards sent from the Western Front during the First World War offered hand-stitched festive greetings, whereas the era of rationing was reflected in cards sent in 1940 during the Second World War.
  • Christmas cards in the 1950s and 1960s were more simply illustrated with plainer colours and patterns.
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From 1980 to the present day, Christmas cards have been more indicative of the time, reflecting the shift in society towards humour and satire. Although the designs over the past few years have had a greater emphasis on contemporary rather traditional imagery, the message of spreading Christmas wishes has stayed the same.

[1] As above.

[2] As above.

[3] Figures taken from 2018 Royal Mail/YouGov study of 1001 City Adults


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