Ever since the Victorians invented the Christmas card, people have gotten creative—and a bit bizarre—with their holiday greetings. Forget serene woodland scenes or snapshots of a family decorating a tree beside a roaring fire. From dead birds to sinister snow people, these vintage holiday cards are more disturbing than delightful.
1. “Loving Christmas Greetings”
Because nothing puts you in the holiday spirit like staring at a dead bird.
2. “Have a Cake”
A giant dessert with a child’s face baked inside it isn’t on most holiday menus.
3. “Thoughts of You”
Being eaten by a lion will ruin even the jolliest festivities.
4. “A Happy Christmas To You”
The kids watching their snowman melt were probably not having a happy Christmas.
5. “A Happy Christmas”
No one told this Santa he’s supposed to leave presents, not take children.
6. “Merry Christmas Greetings”
A circle of beasts dancing around their icy overlord is what nightmares are made of.
7. “A Hearty Christmas Greeting”
The Victorians were into sending morbid holiday greetings that featured dead or injured animals.
8. “A Merry Christmas”
An egg teacher threatening to strike her equally yolky students with a cane doesn’t exactly scream “Merry Christmas.”
9. “With Loving Christmas Greetings”
Anyone familiar with the tale of Hansel and Gretel knows that despite the witch’s festive attire and abundance of gingerbread, those kids were not actually in for a loving Christmas.
10. “A Happy New Year to You”
No one wants to ring in the New Year with the death of a snowman.
11. “With Merry Christmas Greetings”
As any fan of 1983’s A Christmas Story knows, watching a pack of dogs tear into your holiday dinner is a terrible experience.
12. “With Best Christmas Wishes”
It’s unclear whether these dolls plan to eat the human-like pudding.
13. “An Unwelcome Christmas Greeting”
Emus are such intense birds that Australia once waged a war against them.
14. “Who’s Afraid?”
Afraid of what?
15. “A Jolly Christmas”
This looks more like a threat than a greeting card.
16. “May Christmas Be Merry”
The dance party nightmares are made of.
17. “Wishing You a Happy Christmas”
There’s something a bit off about these Christmas robins.
18. “Merry Christmas Greetings”
When it came to creepiness, old Christmas cards did not clown around.
19. “Lobster Jockey”
Who needs reindeer?
20. “Christmas Greetings”
A decorative bauble no one would be sorry to lose.
A version of this story originally ran in 2021; it has been updated for 2022.