Christmas cards: how many are you going to send?


National Trust Christmas offer: to celebrate our partnership with the National Trust, we’re adding TWO free blank or birthday cards (value £4.60), chosen by us, to all orders.  Use the voucher code TRUST2 to activate the offer.


170 years ago, in 1843, Henry Cole asked artist John Horsley to design a card bearing the greeting ‘A merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you’.  Cole had one thousand of the cards printed and sold them for a shilling each.  The Christmas card was born.

Henry Cole card

Today, 600m Christmas cards are sold in Britain each year.  This is a big number but, with a population of 47m adults, it doesn’t seem to be big enough.  According to the Royal Mail, the average person sends 19 cards at Christmas, which should add up to at least 893m.  What could explain the gap?  It may be that we overestimate how many cards we send or, perhaps, we send 13 new cards and 6 that we bought the year before?

Oddly, while the number of Christmas cards sent has increased enormously since Henry Cole’s, their price has declined.  A shilling in 1843 would be worth more than £5 today, whereas the average price of a modern single Christmas card is only £1.62.

Sadly, a shilling wouldn’t buy one of Henry Cole’s original cards today.  The last one sold at auction in 2001 for £22,500.