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How Holiday Cards Strengthen Our Relationships

Sharing a Letter from our Chairman & CEO

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Sharing a Letter from our Chairman & CEO
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Holiday cards may feel like an anachronism in an era of texts, emails, and social feeds, but they’re growing in popularity as people look for fresh ways to connect.

Thanksgiving weekend kicks off many community and family traditions: celebratory feasts, office parties, nonstop shopping, and gift exchanges. These are the reasons people love the season despite the shorter days and colder weather.

There’s another tradition that many of us see as a chore – and, in fact, we often wonder why we do it year after year. It’s the annual exchange of season’s greetings and family updates through paper cards sent through the mail.

You might buy a box of cards and just sign your name. Or you might type up a lengthy letter summarizing your family’s activities throughout the year and send it to your full list. Some people create photo postcards while others craft handmade cards. In fact, Jim spends the most time looking at holiday photo cards. He compares them with the previous year’s to admire new family members, growing children, and new pets.

In the age of social media where it seems everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing, it seems like an antiquated tradition that’s ready to take the path of rotary phones and horse-drawn buggies. Yet millions of cards are bought and sent each year. And we couldn’t be more excited to send (and receive) them.

After all, this tradition is all about connecting.
Maintaining relationships since 1843

This annual ritual traces its history to a time that’s quite different from today. The tradition of sending cards got its start in 1843, when Sir Henry Cole was tasked with setting up what would become the UK Post Office.

Cole wanted something that would be used by ordinary people. He and his friend, the artist John Horsley, designed the first card and sold them for a shilling each. It had three panels, with the first and third showing people caring for the poor and the middle showing a family enjoying Christmas dinner.
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By the late 1840s, holiday cards appeared in the U.S., but they were expensive. It wasn’t until 1875 that printer Louis Prang figured out a way to mass-produce the cards and bring down their cost. (The first cards featured children, plants, and flowers!) The practice took off. In 1915, John C. Hall and his brothers created Hallmark Cards.

Holiday cards today

You’d think that the number of holiday cards sent and received would be on the decline as people can see photos and updates in their social feeds. But that hasn’t occurred largely because digital-native generations have embraced paper over digital updates. Today, Americans buy about 1.3 billion cards during the holiday season.

In a recent survey, 20% of people said they planned to send holiday cards for the first time this year. The percentage jumped to 40% for millennials as they see physical cards as a way to strengthen relationships beyond social feeds and emails. (The same poll found that 80% of Gen Zers planned to keep the cards they received as a token of their relationships.)

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The power of personal messages

These days, it’s easy to upload a family photo, add your name, and be done with your Christmas cards. But taking that extra step to write personalized holiday wishes for friends and loved ones makes all the difference.

What you write in your holiday cards will depend on the recipient. If you’re sending Christmas card wishes to close friends and family, you can be informal and casual with your greetings. You can choose a greeting inspired by your favorite Christmas song or quote or write a funny holiday greeting that’s full of personality and festive cheer.

You can relate a religious message in your card if you know the person receiving it observes Christmas. Alternatively, your message can be more secular with wishes for a happy holiday season or new year.

You can go with a short and simple greeting or combine several of your favorite lines to create a truly special and personal message. You can even incorporate a heartfelt “thank you” in your holiday cards to show your gratitude during this special time of the year.

Don’t forget to personalize your message even if it’s a few words or a single sentence. Holiday cards are a traditional way to use your power to connect and strengthen your relationships. And they’re a great way to stay connected for the rest of the year.
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Start your connectivity calendar with holiday cards

During the pandemic, we wrote about the value of keeping a connectivity calendar. Jim, for example, writes out a schedule of people to reach out to, even if it’s just by a quick chat, text message, or email. The calendar reminds him to stay connected just like his business calendar reminds him of meetings and other business engagements.

The holiday card ritual is a great way to start your own calendar. The people on your recipient list are there because you had a relationship at least when they were added. If you only connect through holiday cards, use your power this year to say you’re thinking of them and would like to chat by phone or email to catch up in January. Then add it to your connectivity calendar.

Likewise, if someone mailed you a holiday card and that person isn’t on your list, return the favor with your card and a personalized message. Make a plan to reach out once the holidays are over. We promise it’ll brighten the new year for everyone!
All the best,

Chris and Jim
Chris Jim Jim
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Celebrating TEAMSgiving

At our Jericho headquarters last week, team members celebrated a pre-Thanksgiving, TEAMSgiving potluck lunch. Over 75 people volunteered to show off their culinary skills by bringing in a dish to share.

Our friends and colleagues brought in everything from appetizers like dips and charcutier spreads to main dishes like turkey, Swedish meatballs, and pasta. We had some international favorites like homemade Sheera (an Indian sweet semolina dish), Gurkensalat (a German cucumber salad), and Rissóis (a Portuguese turnover). There were also plenty of side dishes, including mac and cheese, string bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. Desserts included pumpkin pie, cupcakes, and rice pudding.
The whole event just felt really good. Everyone was around. Everyone was in a good mood. It was great to pull up to a table and to catch up with people. After all the time of not being together, it reminded me of what I really missed!

– Jim
Jim’s personal favorites included Jo’s rice pudding, Lisa’s cranberry sauce, and Jeanne’s Swedish meatballs. Team members voted on their favorite dish in each category, and the grand prize winner was Kelly Trench’s cheesecake shooters.


A conversation with entrepreneur Tina Sharkey

For Thanksgiving, Jim is taking a break from Celebrations Chatter, but he still has a wonderful chat to share:
Last week, I got the chance to participate in Techonomy 22, a two-day multidisciplinary, highly interactive retreat in Sonoma, California. What a wonderful experience it was to exchange various types of innovations and how they will help save the world. The event was filled with business and tech executives, thought leaders, investors, top academics, and entrepreneurs.

There were many highlights throughout, but the opportunity to talk with my friend Tina Sharkey stood out from the rest. Tina is a digital and global brand builder, operating executive, entrepreneur, associate professor, and public and private board member. Named one of the Top Women in Technology, Tina co-founded digital communities such as iVillage and Brandless.

I’ve known Tina for a long time. She’s one of the brightest stars out there. She was the first person I ever heard use the word ‘social media’ back in the 1990s. She’s one of the people I turn to regularly to look into the future.

Today, Tina leads the next generation of purpose-driven entrepreneurs as an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Iovine-Young Academy, a highly competitive school founded by Jimmy Iovine and Andre (Dr. Dre) Young focusing on the intersection of arts and design, technology, venture management, and communication.
Watch as Tina and I discuss what’s in store for the future.

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Employees wear pink to welcome back a colleague

One of our Harry & David facilities was awash in a sea of pink on Nov. 14 as employees celebrated the return of Barb McDonald, an associate who had been on leave while fighting breast cancer for the past few months. “She’s been a part of our family for a little over four years, and her journey has been an inspiration to all of us,” shared Blair North, our Director of Production in Medford, Oregon.

Welcome back Barb!

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Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse Sunday Letters aim to engage with our community. From sharing stories to welcoming your ideas, we want to help you to express, connect, and celebrate the important people in your life.
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