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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!


Join The Conversation
runningesq runningesq 8 years
My xmas cards are our three kitties in reindeer ears. It's hilarious b/c they all look pissed off or terrified. (really though, they do nothing but eat/ sleep/ poop/ play the other 364 d, 23 hr, 55 min of the year -- I hardly think this is too much to ask of them ;))
Sarana Sarana 8 years
It would make more sense to me to make the cards extra cheery, to cheer up the people receiving them. Who wants to receive a depressing card? I do like receiving cards but I only send them to people I actually speak to regularly and know. I also write personal messages inside. Cards with just names scribbled on the inside don't really mean anything.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Jessiebanana- I don't get Christmas cards either! I generally get them mostly from my dentist, or irrelevent relatives- my friends don't send them. Still..I feel like the older I get, the more people come to expect them. Well, it's not happening! And this is silly. If you are going to send a holiday card, make it cheery. It's STILL a holiday, it's almost like telling people they ought to be miserable. I get that as a student I'm slightly more insulated from the recession than most, since I'm ALWAYS broke (college straight to law school!) but I still manage to be cheery!
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
I agree mandee! Although since jessie said it..I kinda like the cupcake idea better! :p
MandeeLei MandeeLei 8 years
The only time I like cards is if what the person writes inside is meaningful or note. I have saved tons of cards my mom has given me and sent me through the years [when I was away at camp and when she went out of town] and I've always saved them. She would always write a ton and draw little pictures of everything, it made getting a card exciting! But most cards that are just signed very simply are really a waste.. most people just pitch them out.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
:naughty_elves: We'll start a whole new movement jessie! no more cards!!!...just send cupcakes!!!! yum...
krae85 krae85 8 years
I'm sending my left-over cards from last year - cute cuddly kittens in santa hats... yepp.
Jessiebanana Jessiebanana 8 years
I don't get Christmas cards at all. Okay in all fairness I don't really get cards. I mean as a woman shouldn't I have a large enough sentimental part of my brain to enjoy them? I just want to tell people who buy them for me to save their money and go get themselves a cupcake instead. Or hay, how about buy me a cupcake that says Merry Christmas, now that would be well received and appreciated :).
kranky kranky 8 years
I think there is something to this. I went to a ballet right before Thanksgiving - when the auto bailout was in the news. I was feeling really anxious about what was happening. The ballet - which I thought was going to be classical, was acutally modern (dancers in lame suits with digital glowing numbers on their chests rolling aorund on the floor). Normally, I don't mind modern ballet, but it did not sit well with me. At all. It felt over the top and wrong... maybe decadent is the word I'm looking for. I commented to the person I went with that I would have preferred staying home and wathcing "Little House on the Prairie," of which I am not a huge fan. I think a number of audience members agreed as the section I was in cleared out at the first intermission, unfortunately.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
Wouldn't you want to be a little more cheery in sad times, like during a financial crisis? Maybe I'm confused on the whole purpose of Christmas cards.
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
Santa is a true red (apparently he's been cherry in recent years) I would disown a friend if she sends me a card with Santa in a cherry-red suit.
yesteryear yesteryear 8 years
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
Yea it should...I guess since it has something to do with the economy?
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
shouldnt this be posted in Casasugar?
momma-tikita momma-tikita 8 years
I dont see much of a difference :shrug:
stephley stephley 8 years
I'm going UNICEF.
foxie foxie 8 years
lawchick lawchick 8 years
I went with a subdued "happy holidays" message (no exclamation point), but our cheery/hilarious picture makes up for the lack of enthusiasm in the message. I haven't noticed that the 5 or so cards I have received from other people have been any different than usual...
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