SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- TAPintoSPF wants to wish Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of out readers. 

According to Smithsonian magazine, the modern Christmas card industry in the U.S. began in 1915 when a Kansas City-based fledgling postcard printing company started by Joyce Hall (later to be joined by brothers Rollie and William) published its first holiday card. The Hall Brothers company -- which, a decade later would change its name to Hallmark -- adapted the format for the cards: 4 inches wide, 6 inches high, folded once, and inserted in an envelope. 

“They discovered that people didn’t have enough room to write everything they wanted to say on a post card,” says Steve Doyal, vice president of public affairs for Hallmark, “but they didn’t want to write a whole letter.”

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In this new “book” format— that remains the industry standard—colorful Christmas cards with red-suited Santas and brilliant stars of Bethlehem, and cheerful, if soon clichéd, messages inside, became enormously popular in the 1930s-1950s. As hunger for cards grew, Hallmark and its competitors reached out for new ideas to sell them. Commissioning famous artists to design them was one way: Hence, the creation of cards by Salvador Dali, Grandma Moses and Norman Rockwell, whose cards are still reprinted every few years).

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In the coming days, we will be taking a look at the top stories of 2017 and looking forward at 2018.