Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Sending Cards: Vogue's View

You didn't think I'd miss an opportunity to consult the big book during December, did you? In 1969, Vogue offered guidance on everything from attending ship launchings and religious ceremonies to stocking the bathroom with Q-tips. But surprisingly little was said about Christmas or Hanukkah. The longest section that relates to the holidays is about cards.

The advice: keep them warm and personal. (Not too personal, though.) Send cards to the people you truly like, or to those who deserve special recognition -- perhaps someone going through a rough patch or someone who was kind to you.

Forty years ago, Vogue believed that the simplest cards were often the most charming. Bright colors and bold designs were also endorsed by the editors, and cards sold through museums or UNICEF were recommended. Ultra-conservative, very formal engraved cards with a minuscule sprig of holly in the corner were deemed to be best for ambassadors. Childish cartoons were frowned upon for adults. Family photos? Only for fairly close friends.

Printed or engraved names were acceptable, however the addition of a handwritten note was a must. Folded cards with blank interiors were preferred over elaborate or ridiculous printed sentiments.
Interestingly, Vogue said yes to using green, red, or even gold ink if the design on the card permitted. (Click here to read conflicting views.) "Brightly patterned Christmas stamps and seals are amusing and inoffensive on the envelopes of informal [holiday] cards."

"There is no law stating that all your Christmas cards must be alike. In fact, it is usually wise to choose at least two styles that will appeal to different types of people."

According to the book, Jewish friends were to be included with strictly secular cards, or better yet a Hanukkah greeting. For friends in mourning, cards with standard printed sentiments like "Merry Christmas!" were strongly discouraged. Instead, a blank card with a brief handwritten note was said to hearten a person:

"We are both thinking of you and send our love, Elinor and John Coles"

So, essentially, the ingredients that comprised a well-mannered house -- personal warmth, sincerity, understatement (that one is subjective) and consideration -- still apply perfectly to the ritual of sending cards.

The last card shown was illustrated by Matthew Ross of Newnan, Ga. Proceeds benefit Children's Healthcare.

Cards one and two are from Mrs. Strong, and the snowman is a William Arthur design. The vignette at the very top is courtesy domino.
The pen can be found at Kate's.


Mrs. Blandings said...

Good to know that even the etiquette gurus thought kitsch appropriate at Christmas. I must say, I'm a slacker when it comes to the hand written note. No labels, though, does that count?

Ivy Lane said...

Mrs. Blandings is right, no labels! That is the cheesiest thing to me. I feel like the person that stuck it on the envelope was in a big hurry.. I always hand write every address..though it takes a long time, I have been told it is appreciated...

Charming post! :)

LINDA from Each Little World said...

Love your red Lamy pen! My red one is sitting here by the computer, the blue is on my desk and the yellow is in my purse where I can always spot its bright color.

Style Court said...

Thanks Ivy!

Yes, I'm really big on handwriting everything too -- envelopes and cards. Mrs. Blandings probably has a much bigger obligatory list than I do though.

I don't send them to everyone I went to school with. I start real early also. It's nice to send them when a present would be over the top but you want to show someone you care.

Karena said...

I do love handwritten cards and colored inks at the holidays. With the costs involved, anyone receiving a personal card this year will feel very special indeed.

Style Court said...

Ms. Wis -- it is a fun design!

Karena -- I agree. Good point.

Hobnail and Brass said...

Cheerful and hand written = good. Cheesy and pre-printed labels = bad.
Oh, and I'm 100% a fan of using a personal embosser. Looks quite chic.