We live in a world where we can keep in touch with others, acknowledge special occasions, and convey sentiments through text, email, social media, and other forms of digital correspondence, so greeting cards aren't necessarily as valuable for communication as they once were.
Sure, it is a nice gesture to send a card to someone you care about on holidays, birthdays, and other occasions, but let's be honest, many of us end up throwing them out or leaving them to collect dust in a box somewhere.
Personally, I never keep cards for more than a year, otherwise they become clutter that takes up useful drawer space, but this may not always be a good idea.
With Christmas around corner, we're all preparing to receive an influx of cards. To make room for the new ones, you might want to throw out some old ones, but this year, you'll want to take a closer look at them because they may be worth a lot more than you imagine.
Christmas-themed collectibles, including vintage holiday cards, have been on the rise, and according to experts like Terry Kovel, co-author of the Kovels' Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide, they could fetch a pretty penny.
You may actually be able to get anywhere from $10 to $50 for basic vintage cards, but this amount can rise up to the three or four-figure range if an item is unique or part of a special collection.
Of course, not every card will be worth something, but if you know what to look for, you could be in luck.
Here's what you need to know
The most valuable Christmas cards are those that date back to the pre-1900s.
These postcards gained popularity after the introduction of the Penny Post in England during the Victorian era, according to the Smithsonian Museum.
In 1843, Henry Cole, founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, had too many letters to respond to for Christmas, so instead, he asked his friend and artist J.C. Horsley to design a festive card that he can just fill with a greeting.
It wasn't long after Cole mailed the first-ever Christmas card that people all over Britain and the United States started reproducing it.
Today, the cards from that era, which usually feature hand-painted floral motifs, birds, and personified animals, can sell for thousands, provided they are in mint condition.
Look for cards designed by English companies like Raphael Tuck & Sons, De La Rue and Marcus Ward & Co. In 2010, an original Victorian Christmas card was sold for nearly $16,000.
Christmas cards that depict a historic event or a celebrated figure can also be extremely valuable.
There's a big market for vintage holiday cards that feature recognizable characters like Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, Felix the Cat, and Santa with a green coat.
Who designed the card? In the past, companies have commissioned some of the world's most popular artists to create special designs.
You never know if one of the old cards you own was designed by a big name like Salvador Dali. Bonus point if the original signature left by the artist is still visible.
Even if a card isn't from the 1800s, you could hit the jackpot if it has been signed by a celebrity. Collectors and auction houses are often interested in purchasing these types of items as long as the signature is the real deal.
"Some are signed and some are just printed," Kovel told GoodHousekeeping.com. "You've just got to make sure it’s an honest-to-God signature for the autograph people."
Christmas cards signed by members the royal family are very popular in certain markets. Over the years, cards signed by the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles have sold for up to $4,400 at auctions.
Right now, a 1993 Christmas card signed by Charles and featuring a photo of him and his sons, Prince William and Prince Harry is listed on eBay for $825!
Now that you have all of this information, it's time to go rummaging through the card boxes in your attic and basement because you never know what gems you might find.