The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned in London in 1843. It featured an illustration of a family with a small child all drinking wine together (which proved somewhat controversial :-) and scenes of people feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. In that year two batches of cards of a 1000 each were printed and sold. Of those original cards, twelve still exist today in private collections.
Image credits: Wikipedia
Louis Prang became the first printer to offer Christmas cards in America in 1875. Today many Americans send e-cards via email, however many people still choose to send out real paper cards, often featuring specially taken photos of their families. Wonder what Louis Prang would say about the close to 2 billion (!!) paper Christmas cards that were sent in 2009 in America alone!!