Heartfelt holiday wishes should not be relegated to the junk-mail bin. And yet, in an age of computer-generated photo cards and ultrasanitized, politically correct greetings, it is sometimes difficult to express true seasonal emotion, let alone personal style. Dear friends and family: I’d rather not receive anything than open another generic note. Luckily, three masters I consider haute couture stationers relish the opportunity to elevate the craft of the holiday card. Bernard Maisner, a man I always use when creating an überromantic event environment, hand-paints six-ply, 100 percent cotton paper with his signature flourishes. (He first made a name for himself with his unparalleled calligraphy.) His Tree of Life sketch, pictured on the previous page, can be completely customized, allowing clients to choose the words adorning each branch (some opt for the names of family members). At Arak Kanofsky, Heather Arak creates the most personal and, I think, beautiful of the now ubiquitous family photo cards. Black-and-white shots adorn each design, as well as the lining of the envelopes, and offer the sender a modern way to keep loved ones updated on all that has changed in a year without reverting to the dreaded form letter. And for a highly refined, very classic look, I turn to Ellen Weldon’s traditional hand-painted pieces.
Even the most exquisite card needs a final personal touch. LePen—it has a French name but is made in Japan—features just the right point precision, a perfect balance of ballpoint and marker. It is also one of the very few writing tools available with chocolate-brown ink, my favorite color. I had a great-aunt, a teacher, who believed in good grades and good penmanship. I think of her every time I sign my name.