A greeting card is a folded card featuring a message of greeting or other sentiment. They are usually given on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas or other holidays. Hallmark Cards is the largest producer of greeting cards in the U.S.
The custom of sending greeting cards can be traced back to the ancient Chinese, who exchanged messages of good will to celebrate the New Year, and to the early Egyptians, who conveyed their greetings on papyrus scrolls. By the early 1400s, handmade paper greeting cards were being exchanged in Europe. The Germans are known to have printed New Year’s greetings from woodcuts as early as 1400, and handmade paper Valentines were being exchanged in various parts of Europe in the early to mid-1400s. However, by the 1850s, the greeting card had been transformed from a relatively expensive, handmade and hand-delivered gift to a popular and affordable means of personal communication, due largely to advances in printing and mechanization.
This trend continued, fueled by new trends like Christmas cards, the first of which appeared in published form in London in 1843 when Sir Henry Cole hired artist John Calcott Horsley to design a holiday card that he could send to his friends and acquaintances. Technical developments like color lithography in 1930 propelled the manufactured greeting card industry forward.
During the 1980s the trend began to turn, with consumers increasing looking for greeting cards that were differentiated from the standard offering. In the late 1990s the market was clearly beginning to separate in to three different segments: (1) handmade and premium cards, (2) mass-produced cards, and (3) e-cards.
Card Making is the craft of hand making greeting cards, which is becoming an increasingly popular pastime. Many people with interests in allied topics such as scrapbooking and stamping have begun to use their skills to start making cards. Publishers have also been quick to cash in on the popularity of card making, with several monthly magazines in the US and UK devoted to the topic. There have also been over 150 books on handmade cards published.
Traditional high street stores have begun to devote an increasing amount of their floor space to handmade cards. Handmade products have always been seen by retailers as a way to increase margins, and handmade cards are no exception. This is particularly the case as traditional greeting cards have been faced with competition from online electronic greeting cards. Over 7 billion greeting cards were sent in the US alone last year; greeting cards are a multi-billion dollar business.
But in contrast, hundreds of small businesses being setup by avid crafters keen to make a return on their card making efforts. Many of these are taking advantages of the low setup costs of web-based selling and the wide customer-base.
Emotional Benefits of Greeting Cards (source: www.greetingcard.org)
A greeting card emotionally connects you with friends and family while brightening the recipient's day. A brightly colored, hand-written envelope stands out in the pile of bills and magazines and reminds you that someone cares about you. Greeting cards benefit both the sender and the recipient by keeping people connected. Benefits include:
meaning someone has taken the time to send a special message
adding a personal touch to special occasions and holidays
connecting us to all different types of people including co-workers, teachers, family and friends
helping us put our emotions into words
providing a tangible keepsake to document special moments in our lives
helping us reach across generation, gender and cultural communication gaps
providing comfort to someone and make sad times less painful
boosting emotional well-being through reaching out to others
making a loved one feel special
preserving memories of connections with friends and family
showing someone you care!