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  • Christmas Traditions Explained, Part II

    Yesterday, we looked at the practice of kissing under the mistletoe and hanging up Christmas stockings and examined their origins.

    MerryStockings.com takes a look at more Christmas traditions and how they came to be.

    Deck the halls with boughs of holly...

    Everybody knows this Christmas song, and almost everybody has sung it at at least one point in their lives. But do you know why people use holly during the Christmas season? It is not only because of the green leaves and red berries they have, which is coincidentally the most popular Christmas colors, but also because of a legend.

    In olden times, people believed that ghosts and evil spirits roamed during winter and Christmas time. Europeans believed that holly held magical powers because like the mistletoe, it remains green even during the bleak winter months. So people hanged boughs of holly over their doors to keep the evil spirits away.

    It served a more practical purpose too. In the time before canned air fresheners became available, these boughs of holly also purified the air inside the home.

    Holly is also used as a religious symbol around Christian homes. It is believed that holly came up from the ground on which Jesus Christ walked. The spiky leaves represent his crown of thorns while the red berries represent the blood that he shed.

    Christmas Cards

    The practice of sending out Christmas cards had humbler roots. It began in the United Kingdom where young boys sent Christmas greetings to their parents in order to practice their writing.

    Officially, however, the first real Christmas cards were the brainchild of Sir Henry Cole who was too busy to send his friends individualized Christmas greetings. What he did was to ask John Calcott Harvey to draw an illustration, which he then mass printed on a card. The illustration with a simple greeting for the holidays became the first Christmas cards.

    Get into the Christmas spirit by sending your loved ones beautiful and personalized Christmas cards. MerryStockings.com allows you to have the flexibility of choosing any format from the various designs we have and then letting you add a personal touch by incorporating your own photographs on these.

  • Top 3 Tips to Sending a Christmas Card

    Christmas cards are very much a part of the season, just like snow and Santa Claus is. MerryStockings.com gives you three things to remember when sending out holiday cards!

    1. Know your reasons. Christmas cards provide an easy way to get in touch with long lost friends, connect with friends and family, or simply to let them know they are remembered. It is important for you to know why you are sending them a Christmas greeting. This is the perfect way of taking stock of everyone whom you met in your life and how they changed your life for the better. It's also a good way to be thankful for the friendships and having them in your life. Whatever your reason, be sure to appreciate the recipient as you write your greetings.

    Also, if you want them to know what has been happening to your life lately, a personalized Christmas card might be the best idea to go. Not only will they be delighted to see your new husband or new baby, they will also get to share an important moment in your life.

    2. Write a personal note. While it is easy to cop out and just write your recipients' name and seal the card, address it and post it, it's always better to write a personal note. Make it short and brief, but always show that you took the time out to think of the right words to say. This will make your Christmas greeting even more special.

    3. Start early. It would be easy to get overwhelmed when you have dozens of people you want to send a card to. Make sure that you prepare your list of recipients well in advance, and that you already have a draft greeting written for each even before the Christmas season starts. The extra time would be very beneficial when you want to write a personal note for everyone in your list.

    Further, remember that almost everybody sends out Christmas cards during the holiday season, so postal traffic might be too hectic for your cards to arrive on time. Sending your cards early would help ensure that your recipients get your card before the Christmas season is over.

    Lastly, if you are opting for a personalized Christmas card, you will need the extra time for it to be printed and delivered to you.

  • Christmas Cards: A History

    Yesterday, we gave you the perfect samples of our holiday cards that are sure to be cherished and kept by its recipients. A Christmas card is more than just a greeting card, it conveys the message that you care about them and that you remember them during the holiday season.

    So a personalized Christmas card is a great way for you somehow say it in a manner that is both personal and warm.

    But did you know that the practice of sending out holiday cards is actually a very old tradition? It has been practiced for more than 150 years. The practice of sending out a holiday card came from England.

    How did it start? Well, it started due to a reason that we're all too familiar with. Sir Henry Cole found himself overwhelmed by the sheer number of Christmas greetings he had to send. Sir Henry was the founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum and had so many friends, acquaintances and colleagues that he found it impossible to write the greetings by hand.

    So he asked John Calcott Horsley to design the first commercial Christmas card. It depicted a family drinking wine, a panel showing clothing and feeding the poor and the simple message: A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.

    Each card sold for a shilling, but the tradition stayed on. Soon Christmas cards depicting fairies, flowers and fancy designs cropped up . The tradition came to the U.S. over 30 years after, when Louis Prang opened a new lithographic shop and churned out the first U.S. Christmas cards. They depicted birds and flowers. Soon, however, Christmas scenes became a favorite illustrations on cards, as well as cards depicting the signs of the times. During the World Wars, Christmas cards had a more patriotic design, while risque graphics were prevalent in the 1950s.

    It has since been a steady climb for Christmas cards the world over. The holiday card industry has always been very lucrative, with an impressive 1.9 billion cards sent in 2005 in the U.S. alone.

  • Some Christmas Facts to Remember

    Some weird and not so weird Christmas facts that you can drop during holiday parties and conversations.

    1. Seven out of ten pets get Christmas gifts in the U.K.

    2. Over 1.9 billion holiday cards are sent out in the United States over Christmas. Valentine's Day does not even come close with only 192 million cards given.

    3. States that have the most number of Christmas trees cut? The winner is Oregon in 2002 with 6.5 million. Runners up include Michigan, Washington, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.

    4. In 2004, Christmas tree farmers sold $506 million worth of Christmas trees.

    5. There is a town in Florida named Christmas. It has 1,162 people living in it. You can also visit North Pole, Alaska, Santa Claus in both Georgia and Indiana, and Rudolph, Wisconsin.

    6. Retailers in 2004 reported sales amounting to $31.9 billion in December alone. Christmas shopping in 2004 started in November which saw $20.8 billion in sales. So as a whole, retailers rely on Christmas for more than $50 billion in sales!

    7. For those who prefer to shop in their underwear, $21.5 billion in sales were made online during the last quarter of 2004, making Christmas at least a $70 billion enterprise for retailers.

    8. You are not alone. 32% did their Christmas shopping online in 2003.

    9. Between Christmas and Thanksgiving, there are 20 billion letters, cards and packages delivered by the post office.

    10. December 21 is the busiest delivery day for the U.S. Postal Service.

    Now is the most opportune time to order your holiday cards so that it can get to your recipients on time for Christmas. MerryStockings.com could produce the holiday cards for you. Give your friends and family the best holiday cards ever by giving them personalized Christmas cards that they would surely appreciate!

  • Sharing Your Love This Christmas

    It is an exciting time of the year as you prepare to spend your first Christmas as husband and wife. There are a lot of things to do and a lot of things to figure out such as what to do on Christmas day or where to spend Christmas eve.

    Admittedly, it is a time of adjustments. Sometimes you are thrown into a dilemma as to how to resolve things such as getting invited by both families on the same night for Christmas dinner, or how to get closer to in-laws. But nothing could spoil the fun you two want to have on your first Christmas together.

    Being newly-weds, you want the world to know of the momentous decision you made to share your life with somebody forever. How do you do that? MerryStockings.com shows you how to share your love this Christmas.

    1. Personalized Holiday Cards. A good way to reconnect with old friends and share with them the great news is to send them personalized Christmas cards. Nowadays, you could select your favorite photograph from your wedding or other scenes in your life together to create a homey and affectionate card. You could then fill in a greeting yourself or ask them how they were after detailing how your life has been as a married couple.

    2. Personalized Holiday Ornaments. Another way to share your love this Christmas is by sending out personalized photo ornaments that features you and your spouse. This would make a very unique statement that would surely excite your friends enough to call you and ask how you are.

    3. Invite friends and family over for dinner. Throw a lavish Christmas party at your new house or apartment. This would help your friends get to know your spouse and you to get to know your spouse's friends. It could also put you in a good position to get to know your in-laws better.

    The good thing with spending your first Christmas together is, that if done right, all these could very well set the stage for beautiful and enduring Christmas traditions for the future. So think about what you are going to do for this first Christmas together and do it well!

  • How to Make Christmas More Meaningful for Your Family

    In this day and age when Christmas is equated more to gifts rather than love and family, it is necessary to make a conscious effort to make Christmas more meaningful for each member of the family.  MerryStockings.com gives you five tips on how to make Christmas more significant for your family.

    1. Play Christmas songs.  A good way to get everybody in the spirit of Christmas is to play Christmas songs around the house every day.  It could be a nightly ritual where everyone sits in the living room to listen or perhaps even sing to Christmas songs.
    2. Visit family members.  Christmas season is usually a down time for most people at work, this would leave your weekend free.  Consider driving out of town or across it to visit some family member that you may not have seen for a long time.  This would give you and the kids the chance to reconnect with family.

    3. Go reminiscing.  Take out old Christmas cards and share a story about the year you received them or about the person or family who sent the cards out to you.  Talk about past Christmases, how you celebrated it when you were young, or how you and your spouse celebrated it the first time.  Talk about how you celebrated your kids' first Christmases.

    4. Good Deed on Christmas Day. Have everyone in the family list 20 to 30 simple things that they want done.  It could be as simple as "having my bicycle fixed" or as backbreaking as "cleaning out the garage" or "help painting my room".  Post this list in your living room, while instructing each member of the family to pick out one good deed that they should do for each family member before or on Christmas day.

    5. Gather everybody up for the Christmas photo.  Have everybody wear their best clothes in a Christmas color (i.e., red, green, blue, white, silver, gold) and gather them up for a photograph.  It could be done professionally in a studio or you could ask a friend to take the photo for you.  This photograph could then be used for your family's personalized holiday cards or Christmas ornaments!

  • Snowflakes

    Another popular Christmas symbol is the snowflake.  Christmases in North America comes during the Winter season, making Christmas a time for snow for most parts of the country.  And it has been customary for people to play in the snow on Christmas day, or simply watch snow fall during the season.

    The snowflake, thus, has become one of Christmas' most enduring symbol. Because of its cool colors and beautiful symmetry, snowflakes have been used in Christmas decors. Over time, Christmas decorations have adapted the snowflake in its designs.  It is common to have Christmas ornaments in the shape of a snowflake.  Christmas cards sometimes feature a snowflake design.

    MerryStockings.com certainly is not to be outdone.  We have great products for you that also feature a snowflake theme.  All of these products can be personalized for that added intimate touch!

    We also have great looking Personalized Christmas Stockings with Snowflakes.  These simple yet eye-catching stockings are perfect for any fireplace and comes in green, white, and red.

    The Bucilla Felt Applique Christmas Stocking Kit: Snowflake includes sequins, beads and instructions to help you make a snowflake-themed Christmas stocking that would be perfect for D-I-Yers and crafty mothers!

  • Top 7 Things You Probably Don't Know about Holiday Cards

    Today, it is very common to send and receive Christmas cards.  It is one of the most cherished Christmas tradition that helps us keep in contact with friends and family, while also making them feel important to us.  MerryStockings.com have compiled some interesting facts about Christmas cards.  Here are the top 7 things you probably do not know about Christmas cards.

    1. Christmas cards are the highest selling seasonal cards, cornering 60% of that market.  Among all cards, Christmas cards sell as high as birthday cards.  This is rather astonishing and shows that the Christmas card market is a lucrative one, considering that:

    • Americans buy around 7 billion greeting cards per year
    • The greeting cards sector is a $7.5 billion industry, and
    • More than 9 out of 10 households buy greeting cards.  The average household buy around 30 cards yearly.

    Also, take into consideration that greeting cards can cost from 50 cents to around $10!

    2. The average individual gets more than 20 cards per year.  One third of these are birthday cards and another third are Christmas cards!

    3. Ninety percent of Americans love getting cards and letters, because it makes them feel special and remembered, while also allowing them to keep in touch.

    4. Henry Cole commissioned the first-ever commercial Christmas greeting card in 1843.  The card was designed by John Horsley.

    5. Americans had to import Christmas cards from England for the first thirty years.

    6. Louis Prang, a German immigrant in the United States, published the first U.S. Christmas cards in 1875.  His business became so successful that he was creating 5 million cards a year by 1881!

    7. Hallmark says that more than 1.8 billion Christmas cards are sent out every year, including personalized Christmas cards.  This is more than 10 times more than the 152 million cards sent on Valentine's Day and 141 million cards sent on Mother's Day.

  • Decorate with Old Christmas Cards

    Christmas cards are the most convenient to give loved ones during the Holidays. But sometimes they are also the most meaningful. So it is not surprising if you have collected a lot of holiday greeting cards through the years.

    If you have gone through the old Christmas cards you have received from friends and family, there are those you will find too beautiful to just keep inside a box. There are cards with lovely winter scenes, Christmas trees, the nativity scene, the baby Jesus, and all other symbols of the season. And there are those special personalized Christmas cards.  There are actually ways to use, and show off, these old cards and the lovely images on the cover.

    MerryStockings.com says that you can decorate your home and get it ready for the holiday season using these cards. How?

    As Christmas tree trimmings. If you are not very sentimental, you can cut out the pretty pictures on the card cover (but do keep the messages). Punch out holes and tie with pretty little ribbons. You can then hang them on your trees, together with your Christmas balls and other tree trimmings.

    As door frame. If you cannot dare to cut the cards and would want them all intact, you can use them as is. Pick your favorites from among the cards and with a double-sided tape, arrange them around your door. You can see these cards every time you enter your house, or a room, and remember the people who gave them to you. It's a nice way to remember special people and the touching messages they wrote. If you don't want them to fall open and would just like to see their covers, you can use a tape to keep them close.

    As table centerpiece. You can pick out your favorite cards and improvise a centerpiece stand where you could hang or stick the cards on. You can use anything with a multi-tiered form, like a cupcake holder or stacked porcelain bowls. You can add red and green ribbons or other Christmas accents to complete the look.

    There are a lot of ways to use old cards for holiday decorations. If you are creative enough, the options are endless. You can create something beautiful, and you get to save money, too. If you think of it, this is a very creative, economical, and environment-friendly project. So next time you get another card, be sure to keep it and not throw it away.

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