For many, Christmas would not be the same without a house brimming with cards from their nearest and dearest, stamped and sent by mail or hand-delivered.
For others, the printed card is an artefact of a bygone era. Putting pen to paper — and mailing it — is too much of a hassle.
But in an era of e-cards, emojis and GIFs, a London museum has put on display what the Smithsonian and theVictoria and Albert Museum call the world's oldest printed Christmas card.
Dating to 1843, it serves as a reminder of the enduring power of a holiday tradition.
The card was one of 1000 commissioned by a British civil servant, Henry Cole.
More than a century after its inception, the Christmas card is still firmly embedded in the holiday.
Research from the Greeting Card Association found 1.6billion Christmas cards were bought in the United States last year.
For the past decade, consumers have spent an average of US$28 ($44) a year on holiday greeting cards and postage, according to the National Retail Federation of America.
Greeting cards are also bucking the overall trend of declining volumes of mail — the quantity of first-class mail delivered through the US Postal Service is a little more than half what it was 20 years ago.
"There was somewhat of a decline when it came to greeting cards since the mid-1990s, but that decline has stopped in the last five years," Peter Doherty, the executive director of the Greeting Card Association, said.
The increase in cards sales can be attributed, in part, to millennials.
"Younger customers who have grown up mostly receiving messages in digital formats are, in a sense, rebelling a little bit by buying greeting cards."
In addition, online services that create and mail customised cards are increasingly popular with younger generations that want personalised, luxury greeting cards.
In the 19th century, Cole seized on technological advances and employed a little commercial nous to sell his 1000 Christmas greetings for one shilling each — about $4 in today's money — according to estimates from Britain's National Archives.
But the cards were considered a flop, and it took five years for the next Christmas card to be designed.
By 1877, however, the idea had caught on, and more than 4.5million Christmas cards were posted in Britain that year.
Today, the card industry has been squeezed by an increasing concern for the environment.
"Sending billions of bits of cardboard around the world uses so much fuel," said Alex Furness, the co-founder of DontSendMeACard.com, a platform that allows users to send e-cards and donate what they would have spent on postage to a charity of their choosing.
New York Times