Nothing signals the start of the holiday season like a mailbox full of Christmas cards! You might be surprised to know the custom of sending Christmas cards was started in England by a civil service worker who helped set up the nation’s post office.
In 1843, Sir Henry Cole served as assistant keeper and came up with the idea of sending Christmas cards to give the public an idea of how they could use the newfound postal service.
Sir Henry recruited an artist friend, John Horsley, to help him design the card, which sold for one shilling (just eight cents in today’s US dollars) and was considered a bit controversial, as it showed a child being handed a glass of wine.
By the 1900’s the custom had spread throughout the European continent and jumped the pond to take American by storm, where the custom of sending holiday greeting cards continues today.
However, a lot has changed since Sir Henry Cole designed his first Christmas greetings card. Although big printers such as Hallmark still mass-produce a wide variety of holiday greeting cards, more and more people are opting to personalize their cards with photos of family, children, pets and more.
With the popularity of online sites featuring affordable graphic designers, many are having their cards custom-designed and then printed by local printers such as Hilburn Printing.
“We are seeing a lot of Etsy files coming into our office,” says Christy Edmunds, manager of Hilburn Printing. “Because hiring these online designers can be so affordable, more and more are choosing to have cards custom-designed and personalized rather than send mass-produced greeting cards.”
According to Edmunds, the most popular sizes are 5”x7” or a fold over that takes a 10”x7” card to a 5”x7”. “If the customer wants us to design the card our graphic designer can do that in-house,” she says. “For us to produce the highest quality card, we need the photo in the size the customer wants it printed and at least 300 dpi (dots per inch).”
Edmunds encourages those who want to take their own photographs to make sure there is sufficient light when taking the photo.
“Also, if someone wants their image in black and white, we encourage them to send it to us in color so that we can adjust the black levels. Sometimes we receive photographs that are too black and white with no gradients of gray – necessary to provide contrast and help the photo pop.”
Although printing prices depend on quantity, 25 cards with blank envelopes usually run a little more than $1 per card. The price drops to $.85 cents per card and envelope with quantities of 50.
Most folks send their holiday cards two weeks before Christmas, but it’s important to note that the holidays are peak season for the United States postal service so be sure to order early and send early in order to ensure arrival before December 25.
“If a customer gives us camera-ready art, we can have their cards ready in 2-3 business days, “ says Edmunds. “If we do the design it takes 3-5 days.”
And to encourage you to get your order in early, Hilburn Printing is offering a promotional discount; get your cards printed between November 15 and December 1 and receive a 15% discount; and from December 1-10th, get a 10% discount.
Call Christy at Hilburn Printing for more information about custom-printing your holiday cards this year.