CHRISTMAS CARDS: A HISTORY
1843 — British illustrator John Callcott Horsley creates the world's first commercial Christmas card for Sir Henry Cole of London. Many disliked the image of drinking and merriment — especially the Puritans.
1875 — Boston lithographer Louis Prang publishes the first American Christmas card, consisting of an inoffensive flower design and the simple words "Merry Christmas."
1915 — The first Christmas cards are produced by Hallmark, which now offers more than 2,700 designs for Christmas alone.
BREAKING DOWN THE 6.5 BILLION GREETING CARDS AMERICANS BUY ANNUALLY
Christmas — 1.6 billion
Valentine's Day — 145 million (not including classroom valentines)
Mother's Day — 133 million
Father's Day — 90 million
Graduation — 67 million
Easter — 57 million
Halloween — 21 million
Thanksgiving — 15 million
St. Patrick's Day — 7 million
WATCH YOUR MAILBOXES: The US Postal Service expects Wednesday, December 17, will be its busiest delivery day for cards and letters.
145,000 — Estimated number of seasonal workers UPS and FedEx combined are hiring to handle increased shipping — and avoid the missed deliveries of Christmas 2013
BUSIEST DAY OF THE YEAR:
UPS — Monday, December 22
FedEx — Monday, December 15
US Postal Service — Monday, December 15
PIECES DELIVERED OR PROCESSED THAT DAY:
UPS — 34 million packages delivered worldwide
FedEx — 22.6 million packages delivered worldwide
US Postal Service — 640 million cards, letters, and packages processed in the US
PIECES EXPECTED TO BE DELIVERED DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON:
UPS — more than 585 million packages during the month of December
FedEx — 290 million packages between Black Friday and Christmas Eve
US Postal Service — 15.5 billion cards, letters, and packages between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve
SHIPPING DEADLINES FOR CHRISTMAS EVE ARRIVAL:
UPS — December 22 for 2d Day Air and December 23 for Next Day Air
FedEx — It depends on where you live. Consult fedex.com/us/holiday.
US Postal Service — December 15 for domestic Standard Post, December 20 for First-Class and Priority Mail, and December 23 for Priority Mail Express
SOURCES: Greeting Card Association; Hallmark; UPS; US Postal Service; FedEx