My Christmas card photos thanks to the Victorians

It’s that time of the year when I need to think of family Christmas card photo ideas. Pose outside? Inside? Dressed up? Props? Every year, since my children were one, I’ve sent a holiday card with a portrait of them. These holiday cards are also extra special for me as they’re a wonderful record of my children growing up.

The British sent the first Christmas cards

first christmas cardIf it hadn’t been for the Victorian entrepreneur Sir Henry Cole, I probably wouldn’t be worrying about the best Christmas card photo ideas for our 2013 card. (The image is from wiki) I think I may skip giving them alcoholic beverages like in this first Christmas card.

In 1843 Sir Henry Cole commissioned the first Christmas cards in London. A thousand cards were produced in the first print with a picture painted by John Callcott Horsley. It was the same year Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol was published. The vogue for Christmas cards soon flourished in Victorian England. According to the BBC, 11.5 million cards were produced just in 1880. So thanks to the Victorians the tradition of personalised and commercialised Christmas cards caught on.

British Royal family Christmas cards

Queen Victoria joined in the craze for Christmas cards too. Her great great granddaughter has followed the same tradition. In the first 53 years of her reign, the Queen and Prince Philip sent out about 37,500 Christmas cards. Every year Prince Charles reveals the latest family portrait for his holiday card. The British tabloids then adore trying to decode and interpret every one of these Royal family photo cards for some inner meaning or special significance.

My own holiday cards

2008 Christmas family photo card

christmas card photo children

photo holiday card

2011 holiday photo cardFor the first four years I dressed up and posed my children at home for their annual Christmas card portraits. My usual nightmare was taking a photo where they were both smiling at the same time or not pulling a silly face.

2012 christmas card photo ideasLast year I decided to use portraits that I had taken off the cuff. I didn’t add a frame but just put “Merry Everything!” on the cover of the card. As I had missed some of the overseas postal dates inside we wrote “Wishing you a wonderful 2013!” instead of the usual season’s greetings. (By the way Overtheretohere was the name of my first blog 🙂 )

So now it’s time to get the thinking cap back on with ideas for this year’s Christmas photo cards. Do you have a tradition of sending family photo holiday cards too?

36 thoughts on “My Christmas card photos thanks to the Victorians”

  1. These are fab! I’m still debating doing photo cards this year too. For my oldest’s first Christmas my sister and I did a mini Christmas photoshoot which was so much fun and the card was so cute and you might just have inspired me to do the same this weekend 🙂

  2. Aww I love the posed ones but I agree, it can be such a hassle! We usually all stand in front of the tree and time the camera and I run in at the last minute. And I always end up sending cards late too! xx

  3. Your children look gorgeous in these pictures! That reminds me, I must get my skates on and do ours….things were too hectic last year for me to send proper cards, so I must make amends this year!

  4. I’ve had photo cards of Monkey each Christmas for the family with Santa Hats etc. Been a lovely way to watch him change year on year. I also do a photo book for my parents as they live in Spain. #WhatstheStory

  5. I’ve never done photo cards but I had received a few and I’ve kept them because they are just too lovely to toss away with the rest of the cards. I think they are a great idea and you ones look lovely!

  6. I love these! We’ve never been quite organised enough to do a card, although I have always done a photo to pop in with the cards. This year I plan on being a bit more organised (famous last words!)… We had a photo with Santa for the first time last year, I think I will do that again too (start a new tradition!). #MagicMoments

  7. Wicked World of lucas

    What a lovely idea and so pleased you included the photos you’ve previously used – they’re gorgeous #whatsthestory

  8. What a really fantastic idea Kriss!! i fear i am too late this year as i have ordered something else but next year i will have a go at these!!

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments xx

  9. Ooh I had no idea that Xmas cards were a British thing. When I was at school we used to almost have contests about who sent the most. I’m sure, if memory serves me right, one year I got over a hundred!

  10. I used to make a powerpoint presentation of the year that had just gone as our family and friends live overseas. I didn’t get round to it last year but will definitely try and do it for 2013.

  11. I think we send a lot more cards generally than many other countries. Christmas card writing can be a bit of a chore though. I have some photocards to send this year which I’m hoping will be less work.

    1. I love receiving Christmas cards in the post from friends and family. I now usually send the card with occasionally one or two added sentences inside.

  12. These look fantastic! Every year since my younger son turned 1 (that’s nine years) we’ve done a calendar for family. We usually do a Christmas photo to stick inside the card of people we don’t see very often, but these are much better! Lovely to see the way the kids grow and change.

    1. Lots of my friends and family love these cards but I think they’re ultimately ultra special to me as a record of them each year. I think a calendar is a great idea (hopefully no grandparents are reading this post as I think a calendar would be a fab christmas gift)

  13. What fabulous cards Kriss, they all look fabulous. Such a lovely idea too. Thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory

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