When you make over 2 million unique holiday cards every year, you learn a lot about people. For many, a holiday card is their most important message of the year, so who they include in their card reveals a lot about who they are. So when you open a holiday card only to find a dog, a cat, a bird, or a horse, what does that tell you?
America’s got pets. Lots of them. Pets are a part of the family. 95% of pet owners agree. So it is no surprise that they appear in our holiday cards, right between Grandpa Bill and Baby Feather. But how often do they appear and which are the most popular? The funniest? The most photogenic?
We decided to find out.
We took a look at a representative sample of all the holiday cards we helped make in 2016. An amazing 13% of them featured pets. And then we started asking questions.
Let’s get right to the age-old argument: cats vs dogs. In the USA, dog and cat ownership is roughly equivalent, and around the holidays people search the web for “Christmas cat” and “Christmas dog” in roughly equal amounts, but when it comes to sending a holiday message, there is no comparison.
92% dogs. 4% cats. Cats rule the internet, but dogs rule the holiday card. Why? Theories abound. Are cats too busy making YouTube videos? Are horses still mad about that “reindeer” thing? Maybe it’s just that dogs are much more excited about sending messages. After all, no bird has ever knocked down Aunt Edna when she came through the front door.
Where do most Holiday pet messages come from?
Keeping in mind the dog-centric nature of Holiday cards, you’d think that the states with the most dogs would have the most dog holiday cards. Wrong! Dog ownership favors the south, but 3 of the top 4 states for holiday cards from pets and their humans are up north.
Vermont leads the way with 26% of their cards including a pet. Though not one of the top dog ownership states, it does have the highest percentage of pet ownership. Are all those Vermont cat lovers somehow encouraging Vermont dog lovers to send holiday cards?
As far as cities are concerned, if you have a relative or loved on who lives in Fairbanks, Alaska, there’s a 50% chance that the holiday card you receive from them will include their pet. That’s 4 times the national average! What is happening in Fairbanks?
Sometimes, a pet is the ONLY member of the family to appear in the Holiday card. While not common, it does happen. Last year, we calculated that 23% of all the Minted holiday cards that featured a pet had no humans. Just think about that: a personal holiday greeting from an animal that you’ve probably never even had a 5 minute conversation with.
Now there could be a lot of explanations for this. Maybe it was too hard to get everyone together for the picture. Maybe grandpa refused to wear that snowman costume again. Rusty is just the best-looking member of the family. It could even be that Rusty made the card himself.
West Virginia seems to have the most independent pets, with 9% of their cards featuring just a pet. That’s 3 times the national average. But Maine is not far behind. A few more doggy sweaters, cats playing with presents, and iguanas sporting Santa bears and next year, The Pine Tree State could easily take the lead.
Many people shy away from including a pet in their holiday card. But many pets consider the holiday card their most important message of the year, so please consider their feelings. And it’s not as difficult as it may seem. Here are some pointers!
First, include your pet in the process. He or she wants to feel their input is valuable. Let them choose their outfit.
Give your pet plenty of notice. Remember, pets have busy schedules. No matter how sincere the holiday message, nap time is their number 1 priority.
And very importantly, let them know who else will be in the picture. They’ll need to warm up to the fact that they will have to stand beside Grandpa Jim.
OK. Where do you start? You’ll need a photograph, a message and a design. Here’s our easy guide to each:
Remember, like super models, pets are always bored by photo shoots. Treats will help them stay focused. If your pet is not a professional, he or she may feel uncomfortable on camera. Make sure to bring an accsesory to relieve the pressure and give them something to do with their paws.
Add a splash of color to your photograph with any range of nifty holiday-themed accessories—fancy collars, scarves, wreathes, light-up antlers, etc. (While cat owners may face personal injury, dogs seem to enjoy the attention.)
Pets have energy, usually at the wrong time. Try to play with them before you shoot. This may help them sit still. Or not.
Pets are highly critical. Most hate the look of harsh mid-day lighting. Shoot in the early morning or late afternoon. Avoid a flash that will startle them and produce that trendy “hipster” look.
Many pets become self-conscious when posing for a Holiday card, stiffening up on set. Pretend you are playing with them to get them to act more naturally. Hide the camera.
Check out four of our favorite designs perfect for pets, cards created by our community of card experts to inspire you and your best friend. Or go freestyle and customize one of our thousands of other designs.