CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN BLOG Sunday 13th December 2020





If you look at our front heading picture, it is a Christmas card and the punchline inside reads  “…CHRISTMAS PERIOD”.


           Always be prepared if someone asks you what you want for Christmas. Give brand names, the store that sells the merchandise, and, if possible, exact model numbers so they can’t go wrong. Be the type who’s impossible to buy for, so they have to get what you want. – John Waters



Mariah Carey has finally hit No.1 on the UK chart with All I Want For Christmas is You. And it reflects our mood.

I know it’s cheesy and corny and all those other sugary terms, but we need it this Christmas and it is perfect after the shite year 2020 has been.

We need to lose ourselves in a bit of glamour and fun.

I think that is proven by the fact that there are, unusually, 14 Christmas themed tracks in this week Top 20 (and surpringly, not a Cliff Richard one in sight). People just want to forget regular life and lose themselves in the joys of Christmas music.

Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas is You” was released October 28, 1994. Before this week the highest it had reached in the UK charts was No.2. It took until last year, 2019 to get to No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the USA.

The moral of the story from a Mariah Carey point of view is NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS.

This was also after a very cheesy Mariah Carey Christmas Special on Apple TV earlier this week.

And did you see Shakin’ Stevens singing (well ok, miming but it didn’t matter) “Merry Christmas, Everyone” on a brilliant festive Last Leg Friday night with Lorraine Kelly? I loved it and the awards!

Anyway, congratulations Mariah! (I just know she reads this blog)

TOP 20 CHART  Friday 11th December 20201

Pos                          Title                                                                                       Artist     


1                              ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU                   MARIAH CAREY

     2                              LAST CHRISTMAS                                                          WHAM


3                              POSITIONS                                                                          ARIANA GRANDE


4                              FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK                                        POGUES FT KIRSTY MACCOLL


5                              SWEET MELODY                                                              LITTLE MIX


6                              MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE                              SHAKIN’ STEVENS


7                              IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE                 MICHAEL BUBLE


8                              DO THEY KNOW IT’S CHRISTMAS                           BAND AID


9                              34+35                                                                                    ARIANA GRANDE


10                           STEP INTO CHRISTMAS                                               ELTTON JOHN


11                           SANTA TELL ME                                                             ARIANA GRANDE


12                           WHOOPTY                                                                           CJ


13                           THIS CHRISTMAS                                                            JESS GLYNNE


14                           MIDNIGHT SKY                                                                MILEY CYRUS


15                           ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE          BRENDA LEE


16                           UNDERNEATH THE TREE                                            KELLY CLARKSON


17                           DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS                           CHRIS REA


18                           THEREFORE I AM                                                            BILLIE EILISH


19                           I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERYDAY – WIZZARD


20                           LEVITATING                                                                      DUA LIPA





    I have always loved greeting cards and spent part of my life working with them. I enjoy the artwork and creativity of them, the words and very often the humour.

Christmas is the biggest season for the Greeting Cards Business. Here is a look at the history of the Christmas card.

The History of Christmas Cards

People have been sending Christmas greetings to each other for hundreds of years. The first recorded use of ‘Merry Christmas’ was in a Christmas letter sent in 1534.

The first known item that looked a bit like a Christmas card was given to King James I of England (who was also King James VI of Scotland) in 1611. This was more like a large ornamental manuscript rather than a card as we think of them today. It was 84cm x 60cm (33″ x 24″) and was folded into panels (it might have been folded so it could be carried around). It had a picture of a rose in the centre and a Christmas and New Year message to the King and his son was written into and around the rose. Also, on the manuscript were four poems and a song – so rather more than are on cards today!

The custom of sending Christmas cards, as we know them today, was started in the UK in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole. He was a senior civil servant (Government worker) who had helped set-up the new ‘Public Record Office’ (now called the Post Office), where he was an Assistant Keeper, and wondered how it could be used more by ordinary people.

The First Christmas Card

Sir Henry had the idea of Christmas Cards with his friend John Horsley, who was an artist. They designed the first card and sold them for 1 shilling each. (That is only 5p or 8 cents today(!), but in those days it was worth much, much, more.) The card had three panels. The outer two panels showed people caring for the poor and in the centre, panel was a family having a large Christmas dinner! Some people didn’t like the card because it showed a child being given a glass of wine! About 1000 (or it might have been less!) were printed and sold. They are now very rare and cost thousands of Pounds or Dollars to buy now! The original cards were advertised with the slogan: “Just published, a Christmas Congratulations Card; or picture emblematical of old English festivity to perpetuate kind recollections between dear friends”!

The first postal service that ordinary people could use was started in 1840 when the first ‘Penny Post’ public postal deliveries began (Sir Henry Cole helped to introduce the Penny Post). Before that, only very rich people could afford to send anything in the post. The new Post Office was able to offer a Penny stamp because new railways were being built. These could carry much more post than the horse and carriage that had been used before. Also, trains could go a lot faster. Cards became even more popular in the UK when they could be posted in an unsealed envelope for one halfpenny – half the price of an ordinary letter.

As printing methods improved, Christmas cards became much more popular and were produced in large numbers from about 1860. In 1870 the cost of sending a post card, and also Christmas cards, dropped to half a penny. This meant even more people were able to send cards.

An engraved card by the artist William Egley, who illustrated some of Charles Dickens’s books, is on display in the British Museum. By the early 1900s, the custom had spread over Europe and had become especially popular in Germany.

The first cards usually had pictures of the Nativity scene on them. In late Victorian times, robins (a British bird) and snow-scenes became popular. In those times the postmen were nicknamed ‘Robin Postmen’ because of the red uniforms they wore. Snow-scenes were popular because they reminded people of the very bad winter that happened in the UK in 1836.

Christmas Cards appeared in the United States of America in the late 1840s but were very expensive and most people couldn’t afford them. It 1875, Louis Prang, a printer who was originally from German but who had also worked on early cards in the UK, started mass producing cards so more people could afford to buy them. Mr Prang’s first cards featured flowers, plants, and children. In 1915, John C. Hall and two of his brothers created Hallmark Cards, who are still one of the biggest card makers today!

The first known ‘personalised’ Christmas Card was sent in 1891 by Annie Oakley, the famous sharpshooter and star of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. She was in Glasgow, Scotland at Christmas 1891 and sent cards back to her friends and family in the USA featuring a photo of her on it. As she was in Scotland, she’s wearing tartan in the photo! Annie reportedly designed the cards herself and they were printed by a local printer.

In the 1910s and 1920s, home made cards became popular. They were often unusual shapes and had things such as foil and ribbon on them. These were usually too delicate to send through the post and were given by hand.

Nowadays, cards have all sorts of pictures on them: jokes, winter pictures, Santa Claus or romantic scenes of life in past times. Charities often sell their own Christmas Cards as a way raising money at Christmas.

Charities also make money from seals or stickers used to seal the card envelopes. This custom started in Denmark in the early 1900s by a postal worker who thought it would be a good way for charities to raise money, as well as making the cards more decorative. It was a great success: over four million were sold in the first year! Soon Sweden and Norway adopted the custom and then it spread all over Europe and to America.

The smallest Christmas card was made by scientists at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom in 2010. At only 200 x 290 micrometers in size, 8,276 of these cards would fit in one postage stamp.


The first Christmas card

The first commercial Christmas card was commissioned by Henry Cole in 1843. He ordered 1,000 copies of the card designed by John C Horsley which depict a family enjoying a festive drink together. Religious greetings cards came some years later. The cards were advertised for sale in the Athenaeum newspaper and cost six pennies each thus making them a very expensive luxury item. The card was described in the advert as ‘Just published. A Christmas Congratulation Card: or picture emblematical of Old English Festivity to Perpetuate kind recollections between Dear Friends.’

Three of the remaining 18 cards from the first batch produced by Henry Cole were auctioned by Sotheby’s in New York In December 2011. One card was sold for $10,500, another one sold for $4,250 and the card bearing the design pictured below sold for $7,000.


The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) Budget $18m Box Office $91.5m


  1. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus The Ronettes 2:41


The Night Before the Night Before Christmas by Kes Gray  (Author), Claire Powell (Illustrator)

Paperback : 32 pages

Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books

Reading level : 3 – 5 years

Ho-ho-ho! It’s nearly Christmas Eve. Bells are jingling, reindeer are limbering up and Santa’s sleigh is being polished – will Santa have everything ready in time for THE BIG DAY? Find out in this must-have stocking filler that is full of festive fun and frolics.

From the bestselling creator of Oi Frog, this new take on Clement C. Moore’s classic The Night Before Christmas, is guaranteed to delight all children (naughty and nice!).



The Night After Christmas by Kes Gray  (Author), Claire Powell (Illustrator)

Paperback : 32 pages

Publisher : Hodder Children’s Books

Reading level : 3 – 5 years

A brilliantly funny Christmas picture book from the bestselling author of Oi Frog!

Phew! Now that the presents are all delivered, Santa and his elves can enjoy their own festive fun! With crackers and presents, dance-offs and light shows, Santa’s Boxing-night party is the North Pole’s biggest event of the year!

A hilarious follow-up to the bestselling The Night Before the Night Before Christmas. This rhyming picture book is perfect for anyone who has ever wondered what Santa gets up to once all the present are delivered.


The First Noel


                  How did Darth Vader know what Luke Skywalker got for Christmas?  He felt his presents




Enter Ms Scrooge … as sexist Dickens turns in his grave

An adaptation of one of his most famous tales, A Christmas Carol, aimed to challenge Dickens’s misogyny by casting a woman as Scrooge.

“It’s about time” said Sally Dexter, who plays Fan Scrooge, Ebenezer’s equally miserable and miserly sister. In Dickens’s story, Fan died young but in this version it is Ebenezer who dies first, and Fan who goes on to become the despised debt collector.

Dexter said the production was an opportunity to take Dickens to task and “get to the heart of what women in Victorian society were struggling against, and what we’re still fighting against today”.

Fan is a “complete git, a monster,” she said, but the story looks at why she turned out like that. “It’s not a feminist rant – it’s a humanist rant, because, by the end, the men are freed as well as the women.”


The Beverly Hillbillies – Christmas At The Clampetts

USA/Season 2/1963Aired on CBS

25/12/1963 · Christmas at the Clampetts. TV-PG | 30min | Comedy, Family | Episode aired 25 December 1963. Season 2 | Episode 14. Previous. All Episodes (274) Next. Mr. Drysdale’s idea for Christmas presents are ones only fit for coastal California, like diving suits and a boat, and a television set, which Granny thinks is some kind of fancy washing machine.


121         1 in 5 – Only 1 in 5 Brits (22%) said that celebrating the birth of Christ makes Christmas an important time, suggesting that Christmas has become a fundamentally secular festival for most.               

122         £636. – For Christmas 2019 Generation X (those born 1965–1980)spent £636 on average on festive gifts.               

123         £538.36. – For Christmas 2019 Millennials (1981-1996)spent £538.36 on average on festive gifts.               

124         £495.66. – For Christmas 2019 Silent (1928-1945)spent £495.66 on average on festive gifts.               

125         £453.06. – For Christmas 2019 Boomers (1946-1964) spent £453.06 on average on festive gifts.               

126         £212.16. – For Christmas 2019 Postmillennial (Born after 1996) spent £212.16 on average on festive gifts.               

127          55% –  of people say they will go over budget this Christmas               

128          125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown out, this Christmas rather than recycled.               

129          83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will be thrown out or burnt – enough to gift-wrap the island of Jersey! Now there’s a Christmas gift with a difference…               

130         6,711 – This Christmas we’ll cook around 6,711 tonnes of fresh turkey, and 12,472 tonnes of frozen turkey. That’s almost 20,000 tonnes of meat!


Boots 2014 Christmas TV Advert