2012–The Year in Review

A Year That Touched The Human Spirit

What a year it has been! From milestone celebrations and technology innovations to inspiration amidst devastation, 2012 was a year jamming with jubilee, packed with athletic prowess, and electrified by an awe-inspiring election. Here’s a glimpse at just a few of the year’s highlights:

 Celebrating—British style!

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated Her Majesty’s 60-year reign withroyal fanfare along the Thames River and brought out the festivities like nothing the British had done before! It was matched only a few months later by the glory of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, where athletes in countries from around the world competed in the spirit of unity under the motto: “inspire a generation.”

Stop the Presses! High-Tech Takes Over!

Both Encyclopedia Britannica and American magazine Newsweek announced plans to cease publication of their print editions. The 2010 edition of the renowned encyclopedia was the last for the educational staple, with Newsweek set to stop its presses with its December 31, 2012 edition. With technology now at our fingertips, both companies are making the move to mobile in this digital age.

Forces of Nature

During the darkest hours of Hurricane Sandy, the brightest spirits shone through with neighbors helping neighbors and multiple acts of heroism saving numerous lives. Despite limited resources, nothing could suppress the human spirit as it strengthened survivors’ resolve and blessed them with an “attitude of gratitude” for everything they had.

Mother Nature also revealed a wonderful side—as she never ceases to amaze us with her awesome spectacles—captivating us with a total solar eclipse on November 13. Mostly visible to our friends Down Under, it crossed the South Pacific, passing over the northern tip of Australia, traversing thousands of miles as viewers took in this solar event.

Election Season

Four major debates, two political conventions, countless ads, and campaigns trails full of hand-shaking and smiling for cameras were all a part of this year’s road to the White House. As voters tuned in to see where the candidates stood on important issues, polls were ready to gauge public opinion every step of the way. In the end, President Obama reclaimed the Oval Office as election night came to a close. Gets a Makeover!

You spoke, we listened! Thanks to customer feedback, our user-friendly site got even friendlier. With a new design layout, navigational tools, and familiar favorites still available, is better than ever and we’re hoping to make 2013 our best year yet!

What events from 2012 are most memorable in your mind?




December 26: Boxing Day

Boxing Day is traditionally the day after Christmas. It was a custom in the UK for tradesmen to receive “Christmas boxes” that contained gifts and bonuses. Servants of the wealthy were usually given this day off to visit family and the boxes they received sometimes contained food leftover from the previous day.

Today, Boxing Day is a public holiday celebrated in many places such as the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Australia. Its name has been changed to Day of Goodwill in South Africa and it is known as St. Stephen’s Day or The Day of the Wren in Ireland. In other European countries, it is simply celebrated as the Second Christmas Day.

Over the years, the holiday has become a major after-Christmas shopping day, due to reduced prices and sales similar to those of Black Friday.



Christmas Around the World

Christmas is celebrated in so many different ways. From colorful decorations to festive food and music, various countries and cultures all have their own special ways to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. With Christmas just days away, we’d thought it’d be fun to share these snapshots of Christmas around the world:

In Dublin, Ireland, Nollaig Shona Duit lights up the road. It means ‘Merry Christmas’ in Gaelic.

(I Eat My Pigeon)

In Germany, star lamps are a traditional decoration that can be seen hanging all over town. These beautiful glowing lights were found in a Christmas market in Hamburg.

(Kristi Fuoco)

In Mexico, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without ponche, a warm tropical punch made with cinnamon, guavas and other fruits.

(The Mija Chronicles)

Christmas isn’t a public holiday in most countries in Asia, but you’ll still find stores stocking special Christmas snacks like these found in Taiwan.

(27°72’N 85°37’E)

South Korea celebrates Christmas with Santa Haraboji or Grandfather Santa. This figurine of Santa wears a ‘gat’, a traditional hat worn by men during the Joseon Dynasty.

(The Korean Way)

In the southern hemisphere, Christmas comes in summer. Here’s Papai Noel (Father Christmas) wearing his swim trunks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

(Daily Rio Life)

Tell us—What’s Christmas like in your corner of the world?



Christmas Eve Traditions

It’s always special when you celebrate the Christmas season–and especially Christmas Eve–with your own mix of old and new traditions. These may vary from home to home, and culture to culture, but most have significant meanings that have survived through the ages. The traditional red and green colors of Christmas actually stem from the mythical properties of Christmas foliage.

Holly Wreaths

For instance, the holly bush was thought to be the one that was never consumed by fire as God talked to Moses on the top of Mt. Sinai. The holly wreath then is thought to invite God’s spirit–and especially the spirit of Baby Jesus–into our homes. That’s why it’s became so important in some cultures to hang a holly wreath on Christmas Eve.

Christmas Trees

Bringing a beautiful lush evergreen tree into the home, and with it, good fortune, was originally a German tradition. The custom eventually led to lighting the tree with candles on Christmas Eve. Adding a beautiful star to the top of the tree was a reminder of the star the wise men followed to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.

Yule Logs

The ancient Vikings taught us about the Christmas Eve yule log, which was thought to bring warmth and sustenance to the home all year, especially if the log was received from a neighbor or a friend. Today, that tradition has been updated to serving a Yule Log cake in the spirit of warmth and friendship. It is sometimes part of an elaborate Christmas Eve meal that families enjoy before going to traditional midnight services at church.


The lush reds of poinsettias were introduced through Mexico and have become increasingly popular over the years. The star-shaped blooms represent the ancient star that lit the way for shepherds and kings in their journey to Bethlehem.

New Traditions

Christmas Eve is a great time to start your own traditions as well. Perhaps you can combine versions of those from ancient cultures with your own. You can always create new ones like making a charitable donation or helping others in need, to making predictions for the coming year, to reading Christmas stories or watching a favorite Christmas movie before going to bed.

So whether your family opens gifts on Christmas Eve or you save them for “Santa” and Christmas morning, remember that the greatest gift of Christmas is the celebration of love. Gather your family and friends together, celebrate the traditions that are most important to you and share in all the joys of this happy and beautiful season.



Classic Christmas Movies, Songs & Stories

What would Christmas be without those memorable holiday movies, music, and stories to help celebrate the season? Break out the eggnog and fire up the Yule Log as you reminisce with some classic favorites.

Movie Greats

Enjoy the memories as you snuggle up with loved ones to watch film classics like 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street and Bing Crosby’s White Christmas. Have some fun by turning the holiday season into a “12 Days of Christmas Movies” marathon leading up to the big day…and after! You can start out with It’s a Wonderful Life to remember all that’s good in the world, then follow it up with A Christmas Story to add some holiday humor. And, of course, what would Christmastime be without a visit from the Peanuts gang in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Why not pop some popcorn, and, as you snack, string some together with festive cranberries to make a festive garland for your tree.

Classic Songs

Whether enjoying the wintery weather with a group of carolers or cozying with friends and family by the fireplace, nothing celebrates the season like harmonizing to classic Christmas songs. Tune up that yuletide tradition with a twist on the classic favorite Twelve Days of Christmas. Simply write the different parts of the song on slips of paper (“three french hens,” “five golden rings,” etc.) and have each singer draw one. Of course those are the parts they’ll sing during the chorus.) With plenty of other greats to choose from, including Deck the HallsSilent Night, and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, your repertoire will be set for the season.

Favorite Stories

Remember when you were little, how much fun it was to sit in your parent’s lap as they read The Night Before Christmas to you before bed? Keep that special tradition alive byhaving your little ones cuddle up in your lap as you read their favorite Christmas stories. Perhaps they like The Sweet Smell of Christmas or The Christmas Story. Whichever they choose, spruce up the delivery by adding voices appropriate for each character. It’s a great way to make warm memories with your little snowflake!

Celebrate this Christmas season by taking a snowy stroll down memory lane, or creating new traditions to pass on to generations. Favorite films that bring a smile to your face, sweet-sounding carols, and stories that warm the heart are all a part of what makes Christmas so memorable for those both young and young at heart.



A Patriotic Christmas eCard

“I’ll be home for Christmas…if only in my dreams.” Those are words from a favorite Christmas song for many and they seem so fitting for the 100,000 or so men and women who are still serving their country far from home this holiday season. They, and all those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom are the reason we can be together with the rest of our loved ones celebrating this special time of year.

We’re proud to have created this beautiful patriotic design that reminds us that Christmas is more than the hustle and bustle, the twinkle and glow, the presents and parties…it’s about home and love, peace and joy, and hope and faith in each other.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!




Christmas Etiquette

It’s Christmas…the season of warmth and cheer! You may find holiday gatherings, parties and potlucks a bit overwhelming at this time of year, but it always helps to remember how much a little thoughtfulness and good manners can add to the season.

Here are a few ideas on keeping the season merry and bright:

Christmas Cards

  • Paper cards should be thoughtfully selected for each recipient, signed personally by your own hand, and genuinely sent with a heartfelt wish.
  • Send your family letters only to the select few on your list who really know you and would appreciate hearing about your accomplishments and how tall your children are now.
  • Be sure to personalize your ecards with a simple, but special message to keep them warm and sincere for the holidays. If you don’t know what to say, click here to see our blog on that very subject!
  • Make sure you match your cards (paper and/or ecards) to your recipients– faith-based sentiments should go to those who would appreciate them. It’s best to stick to general sentiments (“Happy Holidays, etc”) for your non-Christian friends.
  • Make sure humor cards are tasteful and will make someone smile or laugh.
  • Remember that the best cards always come with a simple note, even if it’s just the word “Love” followed by your name.

Christmas Gifts

  • Respect your own budget and select or create gifts that you are genuinely happy to give.
  • Never “re-gift” in the same circle of people to avoid giving someone a gift they gave you the year before.
  • Remember that any gift you give with love is valued and appreciated by others. From cookies you bake to hand-made crafts, the whole idea of gift giving is an expression of genuine love and kindness.
  • Remember that it isn’t necessary to match or “out-give” someone else. You simply need to embrace the truth that it is the thought that counts.
  • If you wonder whether you need a gift for someone, err on the safe side, and give something simple like an ornament or a favorite recipe.
  • Always be grateful to others no matter what you receive expressing smiles, thanks and hugs for their generosity to you.

Christmas Parties

  • Do take a little gift to the hostess of any party you attend. Holidays are busy for everyone and those who choose to open their homes and hearths to you deserve
    a little extra gratitude.
  • Remember to send a warm note of thanks when the holidays are over to all those people who made your season merry and bright. We’ll have some tips for you about what to say in your notes in our upcoming “Thank You” blog on Dec. 28!
  • Be the best guest possible—offer help where you see a need and don’t overdo the alcohol–being a good guest is part of the joy of any celebration.
Christmas Tipping
  • Although holiday tipping is never required, it’s always appreciated and shows that you’re pleased with the service rendered. Obvioiusly, if you don’t feel it’s deserved, then, by all means, don’t tip.
  • When tipping someone you see on a regular basis (housekeeper, caregiver, manicurist, etc.), you should always include a thank you card or note with a personal message.
  • Again, for those you see on a  regular basis, you should tip what would be considered the cost of one “session.” (If you see the same hairdresser once a month, your tip should be equal to the cost of one appointment.) Nannies, housekeepers, etc. generally receive one week’s pay, while the standard for paperboys, trash collectors, etc, is usually between $10-25.
  • Public servants may not accept cash gifts, so your mail carrier or child’s teacher might appreciate a book, gift certificate, chocolates or perhaps a hand-made gift (as long as the value does not exceed $20.)
  • A good rule of thumb is to use your best judgement on what you tip and to whom. If you’re not certain, check with friends or look online to see what’s standard in your community.
However you celebrate Christmas, share it with love and joy. Remind yourself that there’s a spirit of genuine friendship and community at Christmastime that’s even more special at this time of year. Embrace that spirit and join in the fun. After all, it’s part of what makes this such a happy season!


Great Pet Ideas for the Holidays!

Our wonderful furry friends warm our hearts all year…but even more so when Christmas lights twinkle, fireplaces crackle and the whole world feels like a Norman Rockwell painting. Somehow we’re reminded of bringing our pets home for the first time…the licks, snuggles, paw shakes and playful moments we enjoyed with them as they explored their new surroundings. We rewarded their good behavior, loved them and bonded with them. Now we’re rewarded as they wait patiently by the door to greet us or as they rest contentedly in our laps. The affection they give us never wanes and no matter how we spend the holidays, our pets provide us with the unconditional love and warmth we cherish, year after year.

Great Gifts for Pets and Pet Lovers

We can indulge that nostalgia this Christmas by treating our dogs or cats (or other pets as well!) to some yuletide delectables or special toys. The irresistble taste and aroma of the treats will keep them begging for more and the toys will bring them many more hours of happy playtime. Or why not treat them to a new collar, bowl or placemat, personalized just for them.

Decorating the tree always brings back fond memories, too. Garland, ornaments, and strands of brightly colored lights turn a plain tree into something truly magical. Hanging personalized pet ornaments is a great way to include the family pet in this celebration…just press Max’s paw into the clay, add his name, bake and hang!

Don’t forget family photos! What holiday photo is complete without the family pet? This year dress Fido or Fluffy with a sprig of holly on their collars or put them in a pet Santa hat to make the moment unforgettable.

Of course, there are so many wonderful pet eCards and gifts for pet owners as well…many that can be personalized with their pet’s photos and names!

For a truly memorable Christmas season…why not adopt or foster a shelter or rescue pet and give it the warm, loving home it longs for. There are so many of these animals that need help and the vast majority of them make wonderful companions. It might be the perfect way to start the new year.

Holidays are where the heart is, and having our pets with us during Christmastime makes it an especially joyful occasion. As we celebrate the season and get involved in the hustle and bustle, let’s remember to make some special time for those furry loved ones who calls our hearts their homes.



Top Ten Funny Christmas eCards!

It’s never been so easy—or so fun—to send holiday smiles from across the miles. Funny Christmas ecards are a great way to put a happy ho, ho, ho in the hearts of those you care about. From mild to wild, there’s an eCard here to tickle anyone’s funny bone!

Nothing quite says “Cool Yule” like a little reggae.

Warning: This Tropical Christmas Song ecard will have you feeling so laid back, you might not get all your shopping done!

  1. Q. What do you call frogs who love Christmas?
  2. A. Mistletoads!

The un-frog-ettable Mistletoad Jingle is sure to put a smile on the face of even the Scroogiest person on your list. Totally ribbiting.

Penguin Medley combines video and classical music in a way that makes you ask, “How did they get those penguins to do THAT?!” Smile. Send.  Repeat.

It’s Christmastime in the city? Not at the Christmas Hoedown. These all-singing, all-dancing farm animals are kickin’ it Old MacDonald style. Send a toe-tappin’ good time as they twirl, sing and do-si-do their way through this hoedown throwdown.

Know how there’s always that one friend who sends the cuuuuuuuutest greetings to everyone? Be that friend.

Woodland Concert will add a little joy to your world…and theirs.

Do NOT send La Christmas Song unless you want your friends and family to use words like adorable, sophisticated and smart when they describe your Christmas ecard. Ze French, zay have a way, no?

Why settle for regular carolers, when you can send Caroling Bee-Bop Penguins! This bum-bitty ditty will bring you back to the age of tailfins and street-corner doo-wop.  Can you dig it, Daddi-o?

Feeling like getting on Santa’s Naughty List?  One sure way is to send The Wrong House, perfect for the toilet humor enthusiast on your list. This isn’t just a funny Christmas ecard; it’s a “potty.”

Dog Days of Christmas  is the perfect way to say “Fleas Navidad” to the pooch people in your life. This original take on the traditional classic is a real tail-wagger.


‘Tis the season to chew dollies—Fa la la la la, la la la la! Canine Carolers is a howl!  Run, don’t W-A-L-K to this funny ecard, and click send!


So there you have them…and of course, there are more cute and funny Christmas eCards available at! Why not visit today and while you’re there, check out the large assortment of cute and funny Talking eCards as well. They speak whatever you type in whichever voice you choose!