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As the festive season rolls around once more, you may be left scratching your head about what to write in your Christmas cards.
If you have a big address book, deciding what merry greeting to go with can be difficult. What you write in your Christmas cards will vary on your relationship to the recipient, their age, and perhaps their religious beliefs too.
This guide will break down the different types of cards available and what messages you can include, leaving you feeling more confident when it comes to sitting down and putting pen to paper.
The history of Christmas cards
Christmas as we know it today, with its many gimmicks and iconic images, is a relatively new concept. You may be well aware that the inaugural Christmas tree wasn’t introduced in the UK until the 1840s, but did you also know that the very first Christmas card wasn’t sent until 1843?
Prominent educator and inventor Henry Cole was experiencing another busy Christmas period when he decided to save some time and commission a festive illustration from his artist friend, John Callcott Horsley.
The jolly design wishes the recipient a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, a message we still see on many greeting cards today. Cole printed over 1,000 of these cards, which could then be personalised with a hand-written message. Thus, the first Christmas card was born!
The heyday for sending Christmas cards then ramped up around the 1860s, spurred on by the advancement in printing processes, using techniques that combined colour, fabric, and metallic inks to make elaborate cards.
The Victorians’ fondness for Christmas cards helped establish the iconic images we still see today: things like holly, evergreens, country churches, robins, tree decorating, Christmas dinners and even Father Christmas were all popular on cards of the period.
Still, nothing quite captures the magic of the very first Christmas card, and others seem to agree. One of Cole’s early cards was auctioned in 2013 and fetched a whopping £22,000. Not the price you’d see in your everyday card shop!
Why send a Christmas card?
There are many different reasons for sending a Christmas card. Whether you post ten or 100, one thing remains certain: writing a personalised Christmas card is a joyful act for both sender and recipient.
Christmas is a good time to reach out to those who you might have lost contact with over the past year or to remind loved ones that they still remain an important part of your life.
The cards themselves also form an integral part of our Christmas decorations. Popped on your mantlepiece or hung over a piece of string, those handwritten Christmas cards have us feeling festive before the celebrations have even begun.
Who to send a Christmas card to
You may be someone who scours their address book and sends a variety of festive greetings. Or perhaps you are more selective with who receives your well-wishes, reserving your Christmas cards for close family and friends. It might only be faraway loved ones that you don’t get the chance to see over the winter period, who are lucky enough to open a handwritten Christmas card from you.
Who you send a Christmas card to varies greatly from person to person. Most people write cards to at least their immediate family members and close friends. Christmas cards can be a good, affordable substitute for a present as well, especially for those relatives and friends where present-buying hasn’t typically been a tradition, but whom you still want to send a festive message.
In short, there is no correct Christmas card sending etiquette. If unsure, we recommend posting one anyway – a handwritten merry message is bound to brighten up anyone’s day.
Different types of Christmas cards
Nowadays, Christmas cards come in a variety of different styles. Some adopt a more traditional approach, while others use the occasion to convey a ‘punny’ message. Which one you pick depends on personal preference.
Christmas is one of the biggest religious holidays in the Christian calendar, so you’ll find that a number of cards depict the classic Nativity scene or other images surrounding this special event. Mary and baby Jesus are popular, alongside representations of the Three Wise Men, the manger where Jesus was born, shepherds, candles, and starry night skies.
Messaging usually wishes the recipient peace and joy over the festive period, though Bible verses and other religious phrases are also common.
Most Christmas cards fall under this category. Think iconic images of snow, Santa Claus, trees, and reindeers, alongside a meaningful headline of Christmas wishes.
This type of Christmas card became especially popular following the commercialisation of Christmas as a holiday in the 19th century. The sincere messaging and universal motifs make them a great choice for most senders of handwritten Christmas cards.
If you know your recipient well, you may want to send them a funnier Christmas card. There’s no shortage of festive puns or merry jokes, many of which have made their way onto Christmas cards. Comical images are also popular, and certainly help brighten up any mantlepiece.
You really can get a card for every occasion these days, and Christmas is no exception to some peculiar designs.
Cards from the cat or dog are always fun to send to your other half (though we’re not quite sure how you’d get your four-legged friend to sign them). Your local card shop may also sell cards personalised to your area – an image of pretty Norwich in the snow, for example. These are great for friends and relatives overseas.
What to write in a Christmas card
So you’ve done the easy part of picking your design. Now it’s time to decide what to write in your Christmas card.
Of course, this varies depending on who you are posting your greetings to. A sweet and mushy message might be perfect for your partner, for example, but not so great for your aunt and uncle. Perhaps your grandparents prefer a longer Christmas message that will detail your main events of the year… though this is probably not something your next-door neighbours will appreciate.
Keep reading for The Pen Company’s suggestions for what to write in a Christmas card.
What to write in a Christmas card to your parents
Let your parents know how grateful you are for them this year, with these warm Christmas messages.
- Merry Christmas mum and dad. I hope this Christmas is as perfect as you are.
- The best Christmas wishes to my wonderful mum and dad. May this Christmas bring all the things you ask for, because you two deserve the very best.
- Wishing you both the happiest and most joyful Christmas. Thank you for everything you have done this year, I am so grateful.
- Happy Christmas mum and dad. You both mean the world to me. Thank you for all your love.
- I hope you both have a fabulous Christmas, filled with love and joy. Looking forward to enjoying this festive period with you.
What to write in a Christmas card to your Mum
Your Mum will love these warm Christmas wishes in a card especially for her.
- Thank you for always decking our halls with happiness, Mum! Excited to celebrate the season with you.
- Part of me is always at home for Christmas. Merry Christmas to you, Mum. Missing you greatly.
- Having you as my Mum is the greatest gift I could ever receive this Christmas.
- Thank you for all you do. Merry Christmas, Mum.
- Thank you for making the most magical Christmas memories with me, Mum. Happy Christmas.
What to write in a Christmas card to your Dad
Show your Dad how much you appreciate him this Christmas time, with these lovely festive messages.
- A Christmas cheers to you, Dad! Happy Christmas from your son/daughter.
- They say it’s the season to be grateful, so thanks for everything you do, Dad.
- Thanks for being a great dad and a brilliant role model. Merry Christmas to you.
- Happy Christmas to the hardest working man I know. With love from your son/daughter.
- Eat, drink and be merry this season! Happy Christmas to you, Dad.
What to write in a Christmas card to your son
These fun Christmas messages will leave your son smiling this Christmas.
- I hope you get everything on your wish list this Christmas, son! Looking forward to spending some quality time with you this year.
- Merry Christmas to the life of the party! We are proud to call you our son and look forward to celebrating with you.
- While we may be apart this Christmas, you’ll always be part of our festive celebrations. Happy Christmas to you, son.
- Merry Christmas to my wonderful son. Thinking of you on this very special day and all the memories we share together.
What to write in a Christmas card to your daughter
A loving message to your daughter is exactly what they deserve this Christmas time.
- Your sparkle and shine make the season even brighter. Merry Christmas to you, daughter.
- Merry Christmas to my sweet and wonderful daughter. Thinking of you fondly this merry season.
- I am lucky to have such an awesome daughter like you. The best gift I could ever receive this Christmas.
- Wishing you a peaceful and joyous Christmas that is as wonderful as you, daughter.
- May your Christmas be filled with all of your favourite things, daughter! Mine will be, as I am spending it with you.
What to write in a Christmas card to your wife/girlfriend
Whether you’re a classically romantic couple or looking for something a little cheekier, these Christmas messages for your wife/girlfriend are perfect for this year’s card.
- To my beautiful wife/girlfriend. The best thing about Christmas is getting to spend it with you.
- Merry Christmas! Now let’s find some mistletoe.
- Another Christmas, and still nothing makes me melt quite like you.
- This Christmas, I’m thankful for another year of making memories with the person I love. Here’s to another wonderful festive season.
- Being your partner is the best gift I could ever receive this Christmas. I am so lucky to be spending this holiday with you.
- This Christmas, I’m giving you the (tur)key to my heart.
- I fa-la-la-la love you.
What to write in a Christmas card to your husband/boyfriend
Warm your man’s heart (or make him chuckle!) with these Christmas card wishes for your husband/boyfriend.
- There is no one else I would rather be spending Christmas with than you. Merry Christmas to the man I love.
- Happy Christmas to the best husband/boyfriend in the world. Thank you for brightening my life.
- To my husband/boyfriend and best friend, Merry Christmas. I am so grateful to spend another year with you.
- You make me feel like it’s a holiday all year long! Wishing you tons of love this Christmas.
- I don’t need any Christmas presents when I have you in my life.
- Merry Christmas to you, hubby/boyfriend! True love never disappoints, just like it has never disappointed me.
- You make my heart go ra-puh-pun-pum! Merry Christmas my darling.
What to write in a Christmas card to your brother
Put aside any sibling rivalry this year and send your brother a heartfelt Christmas card.
- I am so lucky to have such a great brother this Christmas. Warmest Christmas wishes to you and all your family.
- Always glad that you are my brother. Wishing you so much love and happiness at this special time of year.
- Hope Father Christmas is good to you this year…even if you haven’t quite made it on to the nice list! Happy Christmas, brother.
- I’ve been stuck with you almost every Christmas, so I guess I have to wish you a merry one! Have a wonderful Christmas, brother.
- You are a brother who can be trusted and counted on. Merry Christmas – may you get all that you deserve.
- Wishing you and your family peace and good health over the festive period. Happy Christmas to you, brother.
What to write in a Christmas card to your sister
Show your sister how much you love her this Christmas with these fun and festive greetings ideas.
- It’s ‘snow’ great having you as my sister! Have a wonderful and Merry Christmas!
- Wishing my lovely sister a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May you have a fabulous time of the year.
- Merry Christmas to my sister. May the joy of the season stay with you throughout the year.
- To my beautiful sister, Merry Christmas! I love celebrating this time of year with you. Wishing you all the festive cheer.
- While we may be far apart this Christmas, just know that my memories are full of all the times we spent the festive season together. Happy Christmas, sister.
- Here’s to making more Christmas memories with my wonderful sister! Have a joyous day filled with light and laughter.
- Happy Christmas. Holly leaves may announce the season, but nothing feels more like Christmas than decorating a tree with you, sister.
What to write in a Christmas card to your friends
Send your best friends a Christmas card to let them know you are thinking of them this season, even if they are far away.
- I am so grateful to have a friend like you this Christmas. Hope you and your family have a peaceful time this festive season.
- Wishing you all the love and happiness this Christmas. Thank you for being a wonderful friend this year.
- Happy Christmas to you and your family, and may you all have a joyous New Year.
- I hope your Christmas is full of good wishes and happy times. Merry Christmas to you all.
- Thinking of you warmly this Christmas. Wishing you all the best of luck in the New Year.
- Have the best Christmas ever. I hope you get everything you deserve!
- Merry Christmas, with lots of love from your dearest friend. Wishing you all the best.
What to write in a Christmas card to your grandparents
Your Grandparents may favour a more traditional approach when it comes to a Christmas card. Here are some suggestions.
- I am so incredibly lucky to have such wonderful grandparents like you. Thank you for everything you do for me. Merry Christmas to you both.
- My fondest Christmas memories include the festive traditions you taught me.
- My heart will be missing you at Christmas. I can’t wait to see you again, Grandma/Grandpa.
- Sending you love and warm wishes that are as lovely as you this Christmas.
- Merry Christmas to you, Grandpa/Grandma. The best gift you ever gave me was teaching me to be kind and thoughtful.
- Happy Christmas. I am so proud to be your grandson/granddaughter.
- Wishing you both a warm and joyous Christmas that you very much deserve, Grandpa/Grandma.
- Merry Christmas. I couldn’t imagine my world without you in it, Grandma/Grandpa.
What to write in a Christmas card to your grandchildren
Whether young or old, grandchildren love to receive Christmas cards from their grandparents.
- Thank you for being Grandma/Grandpa’s little helper this year! Happy Christmas.
- Merry Christmas to my lovely little elf!
- Happy Christmas [insert name]. Can’t wait to celebrate another year with you.
- Sending Christmas hugs across the miles to you. Happy Christmas.
- Merry Christmas [insert name]. I am so very proud of you and glad to call you my grandchild.
- Thinking of you and missing you this Christmas time. Warm wishes to you all.
What to write in a Christmas card to your extended family
You may not see your extended family too often, which is why Christmas cards are a great chance to send them festive wishes of goodwill.
- Happy Christmas to you and your family. Hope we’re reunited again in the future.
- Wishing all my family members peace and joy this Christmas season. May you feel the love in your home that you bring to me.
- Even though we don’t see or talk to each other very often, I wish you all the best this season and for the upcoming New Year.
- Best wishes to you and your family this Christmas and every season.
- Sending you all peace and love this holiday season, and the warmest wishes for the New Year.
- Enjoy this magical season with the comfort of your family. I hope to see you all again very soon.
- Merry Christmas, cousin/auntie/uncle. My fondest Christmas memories include you!
- Celebrate this Christmas season in style, [insert name]. Have a wonderful season and a happy New Year.
What to write in a Christmas card to your work colleagues
Show your colleagues how much you really appreciate all their hard work, by sending them a Christmas card this year.
- Coworkers are a true gift, while excellent coworkers like you are a fantastic blessing.
- Hope your Christmas is as wonderful as you are.
- May your Christmas be filled with happiness and good cheer.
- Christmas is a time to remember those of us who are close to our hearts. Happy Christmas to my wonderful coworker.
- This year has been made so much better with the addition of you. Thank you for all your hard work this year. Happy Christmas.
- Coworkers like you make work so much easier and the workplace so much friendlier. Merry Christmas.
What to write in a Christmas card to your neighbours
You spend most of your year very close to your neighbours, so it only makes sense to send them a warm Christmassy message.
- It’s so hard to not feel festive when I live so close to you. Happy Christmas!
- Hope I don’t smell your burnt turkey this year! Merry Christmas.
- Happy Christmas, from our house to yours.
- It’s so lovely being your neighbour. Happy Christmas!
- Merry Christmas, neighbour! Your friendliness makes living here a real pleasure.
- You are more than a neighbour to us. Happy Christmas to you all.
What to write in a Christmas card for someone who is grieving
Christmas is a difficult time for those who are experiencing the death of a loved one. These Christmas messages are sincere and kind.
- Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. May the New Year bring the promise of hope.
- May the spirit of Christmas bless you and your family this season.
- Thinking of you this Christmas time and sending you warm wishes of love.
- May you have a peaceful Christmas, and know that I am thinking of you warmly.
What to write in a baby’s first Christmas card
A baby’s first Christmas is a wonderful occasion that deserves to be celebrated with a very special Christmas message they can look back on when they’re older.
- Every Christmas is magical, but this year it’s even better because of you!
- Happy First Christmas baby boy/girl! I am so lucky to be celebrating with you.
- Sometimes the most perfect gift comes without bows. Happy First Christmas.
- A toast to your newborn baby! Merry Christmas to you all during this special time.
What to write in a Christmas card to those who are far away
You may have family or friends on the other side of the world who you rarely get to see. Christmas is a brilliant time to send them an update of your year, alongside these messages of festive cheer.
- Sending warm Christmas wishes across the seas! Happy Christmas from our family to yours.
- Though we may be far apart this Christmas, my thoughts are always with you. Have a wonderful Christmas time, however you are celebrating.
- Sending a smile across the miles this Christmas! I hope to be reunited again with you.
- It’s been a whirlwind year and I’ve missed you tremendously. Thinking of you fondly this Christmas.