The history of the Christmas Card is set out for us by Ian.
Actually, if you look carefully at the card you will see some unhappy figures on the edges. Sir Cole was very concerned about the poor in England and wanted to remind his friends to do something charitable during the Christmas season so he had these cards sent instead of handwriting individual letters. (This is true).As for the shopping aspect, check out Ian's online Catholic store, Aquinas and More. Not only will you avoid the crowds, but you will be supporting a family run business, and that is always close to my heart.
Update: Can't believe I forgot to mention this, but Ian reminds me that everything is 15% off through Monday evening. Let your fingers do the shopping, cheaply!
Speaking of family run businesses, if you want to see an example of Tom's design work and my layout production, then get the latest edition of Letter & Spirit. Scott Hahn is the editor, David Scott is the managing editor (and a nicer guy you'll never meet) and this is full of essays that dig deeper theologically than you are wont to find in Hahn's regular books (you know, the ones that I read ...). They've scored thought provoking writing about "The Hermeneutic of Continuity: Christ, Kingdom, and Creation" by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Dulles, and Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, to name just a few among the erudite authors. Some of the topics are the biblical basis of indulgences, feminine and maternal images of the Holy Spirit in early Christianity, and the "image of God" doctrine in St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings. (We also worked on the second edition ... always the insides not the outside ... but as y'all know it's what it says, not how it looks that is important. Check out all three editions.)