Christmas card trends are telling — they speak to the mood of the country — and this year’s trend offers some positive news.
According to the Washington Post, hand-written “snail-mailed” Christmas cards are all the rage, particularly among millennials who all of the sudden are spending more on Christmas cards than baby boomers.
We baby boomers came of age well before everything went digital.
I still have and cherish the hilarious hand-written letters my friends and I shared during our college years in the ‘80s, when we were spread all over the nation.
One of my most prized possessions is a letter my grandfather wrote in 1921. He died when my dad was only 3 years old, but the old letter offers a connection to the grandfather I wished I had got to meet.
For a long time, Christmas-card writing was a big social event.
The card itself didn’t matter so much as the funny notes my friends would write and the pleasure and enjoyment we would experience when the cards arrived in the mail.
I can’t recall the last time I wrote and snail-mailed a letter to a friend. And I likewise stopped hand-writing Christmas cards long ago, as most of my friends have.
Maybe millennials will inspire us to resume the annual practice.
They came of age in the digital world, where everything — even Christmas cards — is automated and bulk mailed.
Every year, companies send out generic mass-printed cards to employees and customers, and every year the cards, which took no effort to produce and therefore evoke zero emotion in their recipients, are tossed unopened into the trash.
Millennials are taking an entirely opposite approach to Christmas cards.
“Lindsey Roy, chief marketing officer of Hallmark, which has more than 3,600 holiday cards in its lineup, says millennials are looking for special cards for important people in their lives,” reports the Post.
“’They have teachers to thank, or caregivers,” Roy tells the Post. “They want to find the card that is exactly right, and they are willing to pay a bit more if they like the design and it says the right thing.’”
To get the right card with the right message — to create a card that stands out in a stack of junk mail — they’re using foil-lined envelopes, decorative tape, vintage postage stamps and more.
Technology offers new opportunities to share authentic messages.
“Hallmark’s new Sign & Send service allows users to compose a handwritten message on paper, snap a photo of it and upload it,” reports the Post.
Sign & Send users also can send cards with QR codes that the recipient can scan with a smartphone and see the personalized multimedia content.
Whatever the approach, millennials are willing to pay up to 6 bucks per card to prove that they went to great lengths to show their gratitude and affection to their recipients.
This year’s upward Christmas card trend may appear to be a small matter.
But in a digital world in which so many are experiencing increasing social isolation, increasing rudeness and incivility, and increasing inhumanity, I think it’s a wonderful step in the right direction.
It offers a nice and badly needed human touch that we can all use more of.
Better yet, the combination of technology and thoughtfulness offers an opportunity for humor.
Send a card maker a photo of your cat and the company can create a custom Christmas card that says cheery things, such as “Meowy Christmas from my humans!”
Tom Purcell is an author and humor columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Email him at Tom@TomPurcell.com