One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is trekking to the mailbox and discovering - yay! - greetings from friends and family.
Cards have evolved into beautiful artwork, earning a starring role in seasonal decor.
Dimensional cards rival the spontaneity of pop-up books. Even run-of-the-mill family snapshots are transformed into attractive designs.
Tuck cards into garlands on the mantel and along with ornaments on the tree. Place them in bowls on the coffee table so you can look at them until the new year.
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The latest catalogs offer sophisticated, whimsical and beautiful cards worthy of the magical season.
UNUSUAL YET CLASSIC
The color combos (blue and red, purple and green) aren't the typical red and green associated with the holidays. Neither is the stylized bull's-eye. But the messages represent the spirit of the season.
Insignia cards, (available in "Merry Christmas," "Feliz Navidad," "Happy Holidays" and "Peace on Earth"), box of six with brown-craft envelopes, $15, Hammerpress, (816) 421-1929, hammerpress.net
Bet you haven't seen cards this snazzy since the 1950s and 1960s. The four designs include a reindeer, a holiday hat, an ornament and a cat. They feature shimmering aqua, pink, gray, mint green and long eyelashes.
Retro Sparkle, 20 (five of each design) for $30, Cambria Cove, (866) 944-2683, cambriacove.com
This versatile card can be customized with your own photography, message and color (blue, red or green). I like that it's simple so the picture and the words stand out.
Cheerful Note, 10 for $20.90, Tiny Prints, (877) 300-9256, tinyprints.com
A STANDOUT STANDUP
As always, the Museum of Modern Art is selling pop-up-book-style holiday greetings. One of our favorites is the colorfully attired snowboarder by Susan Rooney.
Seasonal Snowboarder, 8 for $17.95, MoMA Store, (800) 851-4509, momastore.org
This quirky card is a literary take on "The Twelve Days of Christmas": "Twelve Nights a-Prancing" (Shakespeare), "Nine Infernal Circles Circling" (Dante), "Five Golding Castaways" ("Lord of the Flies"), up to "A Blind Bard in an Olive Tree" (Homer).
Literary Christmas Cards, 15 for $16.95, Bas Bleu, (800) 433-1155, basbleu.com