The First Christmas Card: A Lesson in Effective Outreach

Many of us will send and receive greeting cards this holiday season. Always on the lookout for ways to stay connected to our networks, sending holiday notes is a great way to show you care and deepen personal connections.

In fact, the whole notion of Christmas cards was created as a way to more efficiently connect with others.

In the early 1840’s a low-tech version of texting was all the rage in Victorian England. A new service called the Penny Post allowed anyone to mail a letter anywhere in the country by simply affixing a penny stamp an addressed envelope and people were sending lots of letters.

Like texts, it was considered impolite not to respond.

Social “hobnob” Henry Cole was inundated with personal letters during the holiday season of 1843 and like any high-performing networker; he was purposeful about his outreach planning.

His solution?

He commissioned an artist to sketch out a scene he’d designed in his head, had the picture printed on 1,000 cards, along with the salutation “To:_____”.

Cole’s approach allowed him to:

  • Respond in bulk
  • Maintain a personal connection and as a bonus
  • His message stood out as unique!

And voila the Christmas card was born…

Whatever holidays are on your calendar, follow Henry Cole’s example. A little purposeful planning can go a long way to deepening the personal relationships in your life.

As always, I welcome your comments directly at

BTW- Have you been working on your resolutions? See (PART 1 & PART 2) for advice on making 2016 resolutions stick…