The changing face of Father’s Day

Father’s Day cards today are as varied as fathers themselves are, with cards to suit all dads, from sentimental verses to humorous gags. After specialist card retailer Clintons released its own research findings earlier this week how Father’s Day cards have changed over the year, PGBuzz spoke to a number of publishers on the changing face of cards.

As part of its consumer PR push to promote card sending, Clintons has delved into its archives and looked back at thousands of Father’s Day cards since the 1950s. Depictions of dads as aloof, pipe-smoking, newspaper-reading, suited men have disappeared from all cards – with the exception of parody cards – and have been replaced by casually-dressed, ‘soft-in-the-middle’, sofa-dwelling figures, often likened to Darth Vader and far more likely to be comically inept.

Clintons’ research highlighted the main differences in cards of yesteryear and today as being:

  • Dads appear to have put on 10-15kg in body weight
  • Dads have dressed down
  • Dads’ leisure time preferences have shifted from reading the paper in slippers on an armchair to barbecuing or watching the football on the sofa with a drink
  • Dads have a much stronger emotional connection with their kids are often the subject of affectionate jokes

The 900-strong Father’s Day card offering from Clintons overwhelmingly features cards for traditional families but also includes some new options to reflect the diversity of family arrangements today. These include cards for ‘father-figures’, single mums who fulfil the father role and ‘someone special’. ‘From the cat’ and ‘from the bump’ options join the list, which also includes cards for Step-Fathers and Grandfather

Tim Fairs, marketing and ecommerce director at Clintons, said: “Dads have always been treated affectionately in cards, but in the last decade we’ve seen reverence replaced with anything goes humour. Some traditionalists might bristle at this, but the reality is that the humour shows how accessible and important dads are to their kids and that’s a cause for celebration.”

Father's Day cards in the Geronimo range are best sellers for The Art File
Father’s Day cards in the Geronimo range are best sellers for The Art File

This is certainly something that The Art File has found, with funny cards allowing sons and daughters to share their views on a more personal level. “Over the past few years Father’s Day has become increasingly popular in this country as a whole,” says James Mace, sales and marketing co-ordinator. “I think this is down to the increased selection of designs from the traditional to the humorous/funny cards. Our current bestselling Father’s Day card is from our Geronimo collection – a modern take on the more traditional captions. From my point of view, I always enjoy finding a funny, yet sentimental design for my dad [managing director, Ged Mace]. I’ll always head into my local independent in Tokenhouse, Nottingham or the newly opened Scribbler store to make the selection. We have a family policy not to get each other Art File cards!”

A modern twist on a traditional card by Cherry Orchard
A modern twist on a traditional card by Cherry Orchard

Yes, while there is a strong market for humour, many customers still like a traditional sentiment cards as Cherry Orchard’s business development and marketing manager, Helen Pallen purports: “At Cherry Orchard we’re still very much true to our strong grounding in traditional style cards, but as we bring out our new releases we’re always adapting the ranges slightly to add in new elements. Retailers have told us that with the male cards it would be good to complement the designs with something different other than sports, hobbies or a favourite tipple, so in our Father’s Day Spring Seasons 2018 collection, we’ve introduced more of our Sherbet Fizz text-based cards with bold, eye-catching fonts and some lifestyle designs including one of a bedroom scene with luxurious looking presents just waiting to be unwrapped.”

A Father's Day card from the Fresco range from Wendy Jones-Blackett
A Father’s Day card from the Fresco range from Wendy Jones-Blackett

Giving a modern twist to the traditional sentiment cards, Wendy Jones-Blackett’s focus is on handmade, hand-finished and hot foiled cards with a light, uplifting feel. “One of our bestsellers this year has been from our Fresco range featuring bikes, barbecues, ties and wine,” says Wendy. “Imagery we’ve used in the past included trophies, classic cars and robots, whereas we’re now onto sport, cycling and real ale – not too much of a change, just moving it on!”

Blue Eyed Sun’s Jeremy Corner posted his latest video in his Greeting Card Project this week exploring the relationships we have with our fathers. “Dads’ relationships with their children have definitely shifted this century. A lot more fathers are closer to their children these days. There is now more love, humour and fun on the cards that reflect this deeper connection.”

UKG is gearing up for some hefty consumer PR activity to promote Father’s Day being releasing a specially commissioned video on social media channels and to the national press from tomorrow (Friday).

Cards for mums as well

Happy Father’s Day Mum cards
Happy Father’s Day Mum cards

Mums who are doing the job of both parents are being recognised in a new range of greetings cards – created especially for Father’s Day. The Happy Father’s Day Mum card company is the brainchild of Stevie Rowing-Parker. He lost his father aged 5 and his mother, Maria, brought him and his brother Tim up on her own.

Stevie said: “My mum poured every last ounce of energy into giving us an amazing upbringing against all odds. And yet on Father’s Day I couldn’t help thinking she still felt that somehow, we’d gone without. Like not having a Dad had deprived us. So, I set myself the mission of turning Father’s Day from a sad day to a day to celebrate. A day for my brother and I to tell our single Mum how proud we are and how much we appreciate everything she’s done for us. That’s why I started Happy Father’s Day Mum.”

The cards were designed and printed by Thomas Mayo & Co using vintage printing presses and are available to buy on

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