Important Reminders When Choosing Imagery for Holiday Cards


The holidays are upon us. As companies begin creating custom holiday cards to send to their clients/customers, vendors, and other business partners, it’s important to keep in mind that there should be the right balance between looking like a holiday greeting and not offending recipients who are of different faiths.

How can you approach this task with tact and respect to avoid offending anyone who will receive one of your company holiday cards? A simple way to avoid unintentionally upsetting anyone is to have a strong understanding of what holiday imagery is associated with a specific faith. Some are obvious — most people know that “Merry Christmas” is related to Christianity.

However, images we may think of as “safe” actually have roots in a particular religion. For example:

• While the Greeks first used wreaths to worship their gods and bestow honors on citizens, the wreath now has a strong tie to Christianity, particularly in the form of the Advent Wreath and Christmas Wreath. 

• Candles in the window first became popular in Ireland during the time of the British persecution against the Catholic church. Families would place three in the window to represent Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in hopes that the priest would come to offer sacraments. In recent times, it is also referenced to the Holy Trinity.

• A winter evergreen tree may seem innocuous, but based on its origins, it still has religious ties. The evergreen tree, with its shape pointing upwards toward heaven, relates to peace and the everlasting life after death.

Bottom line: If you want your company holiday card to be religious neutral, make sure you do the proper research on any imagery you’re planning to incorporate. Showing respect for individual beliefs will only further cement your important business relationships.

How does your company handle this issue during this holiday season? What neutral images have you used in holiday cards?

This post was co-authored by Cabra’Ann Perreault, associate art director at Identity.