My Private View columns in ‘Design Week’ occasionally touched a nerve. In December 2008, I berated the laziness and impersonality of e-Christmas cards. A student of sustainable design called Harry Wilson got particularly hot under the collar accusing me of an “archaic way of thinking” in the following week’s letters page. Perhaps the line “to hell with deforestation” was a step too far, but of course my tongue was firmly placed in my cheek when I wrote it.

Top trunks… this year’s retro pick, courtesy of Oxfam
It was unfortunate too that one of my then best clients sent me an e-Christmas card between the time of filing the article and publication. For some reason they went pretty quiet on me in 2009. On twitter yesterday, fellow copywriter Nick Asbury came up with the neologism “Sanctimoanemail: (n) An email sent to say you’ve donated to charity the money you would have spent on an environmentally unsound Xmas card.” And it’s exactly that kind of public outpouring of smugness (environmental or otherwise) that really sticks in my craw. Personally, I love the annual agony of finding the right off-the-shelf card for friends and designers, or designer-friends. Something typographic or ironic, simple or amusing that stands out in the racks of predictable festive fodder. Back in the day when I had world enough and time, I used to design and make my own. A miserable-looking Bryan Ferry in a Santa hat with the line ‘Ferry Christmas’ was an instant classic. And it struck me as I wrote my (recycled charity) Christmas cards last week that it’s the time you devote to writing them that’s important. Two minutes or so thinking about your friends or colleagues, is two minutes of silent communion. You’re with them in spirit, remembering your shared past, the times and projects you had in common. Stained-glass stamps, coloured envelopes and stuffing cards into an overfilled post box just before the last posting date are an essential part of Christmas. You can’t compare it to just pressing send. ’Scuse my archaic way of thinking.

Leave a comment