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Greeting Card Industry Tones Down Cheer, Not Price

Have you sent your holiday cards yet? Neither have I! I would leave your hot-pink conceptual snowflake cards from Jonathan Adler in the attic this year, though. The greeting card industry is sending more somber notes to match the country's mood.

Card designs and social times have always coincided. In World War II and after 9/11, cards of patriotism and peace (think Frosty with a flag) lined Hallmarks. Santa slimmed down during the thin-obsessed '80s, and the down-on-its-luck '70s brought "nostalgia, home, and hearth."

This year cards are getting hearthy again. Greeting card companies, who test consumer attitudes with focus groups, are looking through drawers of saved and dated cards to see what sold during the Depression and World War II.

So what's in when it's down? To find out,


  • Iconic and familiar images like trees, snowmen, and Santa
  • Rich, subdued reds and greens
  • Santa is a true red (apparently he's been cherry in recent years)
  • Shiny, embossed Santa suits are being replaced with a velvet touch
  • Holding hands and other you're-not-alone themes
  • Colors like light blue, pink, and pretty much anything nontraditional is out, as is expecting too much from Santa (i.e. lots of presents under a tree)

Text is deliberately long and sentimental unlike the short, pithy copy of years past. "During difficult times," the American Greetings creative director said, "we see people wanting to connect on a deeper, emotional level that goes above and beyond." Right, because nothing goes beyond like a mass-produced card with a focus group-tested message!


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