Does your company want to convey its Christian values through business Christmas cards without being excessively religious and possibly turning off your customers, clients, vendors and even your employees? The first Christmas cards weren’t particularly religious, and yours don’t have to be either.
When studying your card choices, keep in mind that the design and message are intended to convey your good wishes for the season, not to obviously promote your company, your religious beliefs or any agenda of any kind.
So what patterns and messages are best? That’s really up to you and your unique sensibilities, but there are a few things about the history of Christmas cards you may want to consider.
The First Christmas Cards
By all accounts, Christmas cards weren’t sent until 1843. Business Christmas cards came significantly after that.
John Callcott Horsley is credited with creating the illustration for the first Christmas cards. The image he created actually proved to be controversial: it was of a family with a small child, all drinking wine together. Only 2,050 of the cards were printed.
Cards caught on fairly quickly, however, but those early English cards almost never featured anything religious — or even a winter scene, as is so common now. Instead, they usually showed fairies, flowers and fanciful designs more appropriate for the modern idea of spring that Christmas. Funny cards and cards featuring children caught on early too.
Low-cots lithograph cards become available to the masses in England in 1873 and in America in 1874. Soon, cheap imitations and postcards temporarily replaced the beautiful cards of the Victorian era, but nice cards in envelopes returned by the 1920s.
In World War II, patriotic themes were common on Christmas cards. Cartoons and risqué humor came into vogue in the 1950s. Sentimental, nostalgic and religious scenes then caught on.
Some of the most popular card designs in recent years have been reproductions of earlier Victorian cards and images loosely based on those designs. But religion need not come into the look or message of the card unless that’s specifically desired.
Choosing Business Christmas Cards
The most important thing to consider when choosing business Christmas cards is the approach your company takes to its business. If you take an old-fashioned, family-oriented approach, classic designs that feature children are a great idea. If your company presents itself as modern and cutting edge, something simpler and bolder might be in order.
In all cases, the design and message of your holiday cards should support your company’s message and not distract from it. If sending an overtly religious message could create ill will instead of goodwill, then it make sense to take a more generic approach.
Whatever you do, the purpose of business Christmas cards is to enhance relationships, not strain them. That’s why choosing carefully and avoiding religious symbolism and content might be a smart idea. But the call is up to you.
If you choose to avoid religion in your holiday cards, you aren’t turning your back on your values. Instead, you’re doing what’s best for supporting your family and strengthening your business. You can promote your values another way and at another time.