With Christmas just behind us (though it may feel like it was a long time ago!), and Valentine’s Day coming up, it seems like a good time to look at a tradition that many people feel is on the wane – the act of giving greetings cards.
A Year’s Worth of Greetings Cards
If you go back in time to the 80’s or 90’s, greetings cards were a far more common thing. As well as Christmas and birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, most people would, in a year, find themselves also buying cards for people who were sick, people who were leaving their jobs, people graduating, getting engaged or married, having a baby, moving house, or to thank them for things. There were even cards for occasions that seemed a bit odd to some people, like cards congratulating people on getting divorced! Add to that postcards that would be sent from your trips, and that is quite a lot of card the average person is receiving in a given year. While this was a bigger deal in some cultures than others, in the UK and the USA cards were a big part of social etiquette, but now, in the 2010’s, they are far less so. Why is that?
One of the obvious reasons why we don’t give greetings cards as often is that we are generally much more connected to people, thanks to social media. In the past, sending a card might have been the best way to let a friend in another location know you were thinking of them when something happened in their life, but now, of course, you can contact them any time you want. Also, as using ‘snail mail’ in general has begun to seem so very inconvenient, messages of goodwill and love sent electronically have become more popular— you can even get Valentine’s Day eCards here !
There is also the issue of waste. Most people would, after Christmas or a birthday, be stuck with the dilemma of whether to keep or throw out their cards, with the most thoughtfully written or handmade ones being saved in a drawer and the rest discarded. It became a tradition for many people to not buy Christmas cards and donate the money they would have spent to charity instead.
Why Greetings Cards Can Still Be Good to Give
The very fact that cards are less common now, actually makes them more valuable to send, particularly if you choose cards that are in aid of a good cause like a charity of school – click here to see some ideas. Cards that are especially beautifully designed or handmade – that is the cards that people would tend to keep – are still a thoughtful thing to give, and now have more impact due to their relative scarcity.
From a design perspective, a card can be a great way to show off a style or image that can be easily displayed, and is inexpensive to produce or give.
The greetings card really isn’t dead, but has changed from something generic and simple sent en masse to a more thoughtful touch using higher end designs. As time goes on, it is likely that cards will remain in use, but on a smaller more personal scale, and designs for commercial cards will become more refined as the card itself becomes a gift.