24 of the Best Vintage Disney Christmas Cards from Every Decade
There are ordinary Christmas cards, and then there are Disney Christmas cards. Check out these beautiful designs featuring your favorite characters.
1932: Silly Symphony
The early culture of Mickey and his friends was more raucous, more rural, and more ridiculous than it would be later when the characters settled into their familiar archetypes. This 1932 card artwork reflects the childlike playfulness and absurdity of the “black-and-white era” Mickey Mouse. If you’re stuck and looking for some inspiration for your holiday cards, we have compiled a list of ideas to help you write your own Christmas cards.
Artist: Tom Wood. Dimensions: 8 ½” x 10 ¼”. Tab length: approximately 1 ¼”. Illustration on separate lithograph: 7 ⅞” x 4”
1933: Three Little Pigs
This card promotes the overnight superstars of the phenomenally successful Silly Symphony Three Little Pigs, which had been released earlier that year. The popular cartoon went on to win the 1934 Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Cartoon. This is the reason why Christmas colors are red and green.
Artist: Disney Studio Artist. Dimensions: 9” x 7 ⅛”
1936: Blizzard Mail
Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto fight the elements to deliver the best wishes of the season for their boss, complete with a familiar face on the postage stamp. This art, created by Hank Porter, was popular on limited-edition merchandise sold at Disneyland in the 1990s. Read up on the differences between Disneyland and Disney World.
Artist: Hank Porter. Dimensions: 7 ⅛” x 9 ⅛”
1941: Peace around Earth
In the darkest days, just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, there was certainly no “peace on earth” to be had, but Mickey and his friends (and Disney’s newest animated stars, Dumbo, and Timothy Mouse) still endeavor to wrap the globe in the yuletide spirit of optimism and good cheer.
Artist: Hank Porter. Dimensions: 7 ½” x 10 ¼”
1945: Feliz Navidad
This 1945 illustration was created by Hank Porter for syndication to newspapers around the world, celebrating the holiday and the characters of the theatrical release The Three Caballeros.
Artist: Hank Porter
1949: Season’s Greetings
Mickey Mouse carols with Gus and Jaq, soon to be introduced in Cinderella, in this Walt Disney Studios card. The back is a pictorial preview of the upcoming features Alice in Wonderland and Treasure Island.
Artists: Disney Studio Artist (front), John Hench (interior design and roughs), Mary Blair (interior final art). Dimensions: 7” x 8” (One 14” x 16” sheet folded in quarters)
1950: New films for Christmas
In this Walt Disney Studios card, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Pluto open the wrappings to reveal Walt Disney’s long-awaited animated feature version of Alice in Wonderland, seven months prior to the premiere of the film in the summer of 1951. The in-production animated feature Peter Pan is previewed on the back of the card. Check out these rare, vintage photos of what life was like in the 1950s.
Artists: John Hench (design and roughs), Mary Blair (final art). Dimensions: 7” x 7 ¾” (One sheet folded in quarters)
1953: Puppet show
The upcoming 1954 reissue of Pinocchio takes center stage on this card; and as Walt continued to expand the company’s cultural presence—preparing to launch into projects on television and Disneyland Park—a “family of characters” was more and more being presented to the public as a staple of Disney’s identity.
Artist: Disney Studio Artist. Dimensions: 7” x 7 ¾ “ (One sheet folded in quarters)
1956: Caps for Donald
Even in his own home, Donald Duck cannot escape the phenomenal popularity of his friend and rival on television’s Mickey Mouse Club, which by 1956 had become an extraordinary cultural event. The caps that Donald is wearing and decorating with (in response to the fashionable Mickey Mouse headgear) were actually later sold at Disneyland. The interior celebrates the upcoming theatrical release of Perri.
Artists: Disney Studio Artists (front and back), John Hench (interior art). Dimensions: 7” x 7 ⅞” (One sheet folded in quarters)
1960: Christmas pups
The production of One Hundred and One Dalmatians showcased a leading-edge new visual style for Disney animation, a remarkable technique in which the character design and line of the animator’s drawing is supported and enhanced by sophisticated background and color styling. The art of this card is sadly disappointing in how it falls short of that erudite design approach—which one can easily envision being beautifully expressed in this medium.
Artist: Paul Wenzel. Dimensions: presentation face 7” x 8” 7” x 6 ¼” greeting with 7 x 1 ¾” interior reveal. Open 7” x 14 ¼” | Back 7” x 8”
1968: Christmas stamp
Paul Wenzel created the image of Walt Disney for the United States commemorative postage stamp issued on September 11, 1968. Check out these inspiring Walt Disney quotes that’ll motivate you to dream big.
Artist: Paul Wenzel
1968: Holiday joy
This card features distinct visual messages in a graphic type font framework: the symbol of the only Disney park at the time, Disneyland; a cast of favorite Disney characters from all manner of media (from film, to television, to print); and the international appeal and innocence of the season in homage to Mary Blair’s timeless design of global innocents.
Artist: Paul Wenzel. Dimensions: Presentation face: 5 1/8” x 7 1/8” Interior: 5 1/8” x 14 ½”. (Center cut, with additional die cut removing center of “O” for interior reveal)
1973: Merry men
Disney’s 21st animated feature, Robin Hood, actually dates back to an interest by Walt in 1938 of adapting the twelfth-century legend of Reynard the fox. After that idea stopped and started over decades, during production of The Aristocats legendary Disney animator and Imagineer Ken Anderson developed the story of Robin Hood, carrying forward many of the Reynard ideas and creating most of the animal casting and character designs. Here are more surprising facts you never knew about Disney’s most famous characters.
Designer: Bob Moore. Dimensions: Interior: 6” x 9 ¼” Cover/foreground: 6” x 8” (Die-cut foreground with interior background “diorama”)
1977: Elliot guides the sleigh
“Elliott, in place of eight tiny reindeer” was the subject of the 1977 studio holiday card, featuring the title star of the then-current theatrical fantasy feature, Pete’s Dragon. Disney Legend Ken Anderson finished his four-decade Disney animation career as animation art director on the film, designing the distinctive and beloved character.
Artist: Paul Wenzel. Dimensions: 7 ¼” x 10”
1978: Santa Mickey
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of his debut, this fascinating amalgam line art shows the variations and subtleties of Mickey Mouse’s character design over his first half-century. Upon opening, a bold, ambitious, and spectacular illustration of a festive “Santa Mickey” is composed of typographic representations of the titles of his animated shorts.
Designer: Bob Moore. Dimensions: Presentation face: 5 ¼” x 7 ¼” Interior: 10 ½” x 7 ¼” Reveal to bottom greeting: 6 ¼” | Open: 10 ½” x 14 ½”
1981: Fill the stockings
In the 1981 card, Mickey and his friends fill up the stockings with icons representing the Disney animated features to that date, up to and including that year’s release—The Fox and the Hound, indicated by a bone for Copper, one of the title stars. These are the secrets Disney employees won’t tell you.
Artists: Paul Wenzel, Willie Ito Dimensions: 7 ¾” x 5 ¼”
1982: Tree topper
Mickey and friends appear startled in the 1982 card. It seems that what Mickey assumed to be a tree-topping “star” is really Tinker Bell, the costar of Peter Pan, which was re-released to theaters that December. Inside, the pretty pixie presents an aerial view (by Clem Hall) of the enormous new Disney project, then known as EPCOT Center. This is what the letters in Disney’s EPCOT actually stand for.
Artists: Paul Wenzel, Clem Hall. Dimensions: 7 ¾” x 5 ¼”
1988: Colorful ornaments
A more generic card was created in 1988, without the signature and greeting of Eisner and Wells, for individual business units to personalize with their own logo and/or greetings. This clever die cut delivers a Disney and holiday message.
Artist: John Jensen. Dimensions: 5” x 7” (Die-cut “Mickey” reveals partial interior image)
1989: Caroling in the snow
Caroling characters are a long-standing tradition at Disney during the holidays. For this general external greeting card, the right exposed interior element could be personalized by placement of the individual business unit logotype. Check out these insider secrets for the best Walt Disney World vacation.
Artist: John Jensen. Dimensions: 5” x 7” Interior reveal at right: 2 ¼” | Open: 5” x 115/8”
1991: Figure Eights
The Michael Graves–designed Team Disney Building was the subject of much corporate pride upon its grand opening in 1990. That year’s holiday card depicted Mickey and Minnie in a frozen version of the distinctive building’s reflecting pool. Their skating rink is today the site of Disney Legends Plaza.
Artist: John Jensen. Dimensions: 5” x 7”
1988: Celebratory Christmas
The 1998 card utilized the original season’s greetings artwork of the 1934 card in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of The Walt Disney Company in 1923.
Artist: John Jensen. Dimensions: 5” x 7”
2000: Grizzly peak
The annual company holiday card has for decades been an example of corporate pride in achievements of the year past or a preview of the year to come. Celebrating the upcoming opening of Disney California Adventure, this card featured a snowcapped Grizzly Peak, the mountain icon of the new park. Take a look at these rare, vintage photos of what winter used to look like.
Artist: John Jensen. Dimensions: 5” x 7”
2008: Winter Wonderland
Although digital greetings had by the time supplanted physical ones, Walt Disney Imagineering created this unusual Christmas card to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Matterhorn attraction. The graphic style recalls the original attraction poster design work of Paul Hartley.
Artists: Laurel Scribner and Mark Panelli. Dimensions: 5” x 7”
2013: Frozen Christmas
Olaf, the summer-dreaming snowman from the 2013 blockbuster hit Frozen, shares holiday cheer with Kristoff’s reindeer friend, Sven, in this playfully retro 2-D rendition of the 3-D animated characters. Next, don’t miss these free printable Christmas cards that everyone will love.
Artist: Bill Schwab. Dimensions: 5” x 7”