The Official PSB Christmas Cards

Every holiday season the Pet Shop Boys send a unique Christmas card to members of their official Fan Club well as to other friends and associates. Here's a rundown of "the official PSB Chrismas cards," most of which (but not all; I'm missing the seven earliest ones) are in my own personal collection of treasured PSB memorabilia.

The first three cards, incidentally, were not sent to Fan Club members, but rather only to friends and associates. Sending cards to Fan Club members began in 1989.

The first, extremely rare PSB Christmas card from 1986 reads "Seasons Greetings from the Pet Shop Boys" and featured Neil and Chris with their heads transformed into what is apparently meant to resemble Christmas tree ornaments. But at least to American observers they're even more strongly reminiscent of the "Coneheads" characters from 1970s episodes of Saturday Night Live. This card was apparently distributed in two ways and formats: the first, in black-and-white, was sent in the mail, whereas the second, smaller but more colorful, was included as a bonus with seasonal copies of the Japanese edition of Disco. 1986 card 1986 card
The 1987 card took the form of a fake backstage pass with the message "Happy Christmas from Pet Shop Boys." At that early point in the Boys' career, when they weren't exactly known for their live shows, it was an example of Christmas wishful thinking, wasn't it? 1987 card
The Boys' 1988 Christmas card presented a simple triangular Christmas tree shape inlaid with the Introspective album cover "color bars." Apparently the inside boasted Chris and Neil's actual signatures as opposed to the signature reproductions of future years.
1988 card
The 1989 card—the first sent en masse to Fan Club members—featured this delightful image of Chris and Neil in wool caps, strewn with Christmas lights, and hugging a terrier (another reference to Introspective).
1989 card
The interior of the 1990 card offered four shots, each tinted differently, of the Boys covered in snow. The four photos on a white background are undoubtedly an allusion to the cover of the recently released Behaviour, which had a similar design. 1990 card
The card for 1991 offered "Merry Christmas from Pet Shop Boys" and could be opened up into a mobile depicting roses and images of the PSB dolls that grace the artwork of the "Was It Worth It?" single.
1991 card
"Pet Shop Boys wish you a Merry Christmas" reads the 1992 card, which featured a design that anticipated the soon-to-be-released Very, though with lots of little snowflakes, a different color scheme, and tiny Neil and Chris headshots from the cover of Discography.
1992 card
The exterior of the 1993 card once again invoked Very with a polka-dot graphic. But the interior of this "A Very Merry Christmas" card popped up to display the Boys in yuletide variations on their "Go West" costumes—including Christmas puddings as their helmets. Yum!
In 1994 Fan Club members were treated to an icy landscape and our musical heroes dressed in the "electrified" costumes they wore for the finale of their recent DiscoVery tour.
1994 card
The fluorescently hued 1995 card wished us "Merry Pet Shop Boys" while showing Neil wearing bananas and Chris a wig.
1995 card
One of the more elaborate cards came in 1996: a Pet Shop Boys advent calendar, with each day leading up to Christmas represented by a different picture drawn from recent releases related to Bilingual.
1996 card
1997 boasted the most famous and popular Christmas "card" of all—a special "snowflake CD" containing two tracks: "It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas" in both vocal and instrumental mixes.
1997 card
For 1998 the Boys turned themselves into angels designed to sit at the pinnacle of a Christmas tree.
1998 card
Their "Nightlife look" inspired the 1999 card, which could be used as a headband that would enable anyone to become a "Nightlife being." The greeting "Merry Christmas from Pet Shop Boys" appears on the reverse.
1999 card
In 2000 their card took the form of an exclusive interview concerning the Boys' Christmas memories. Stylistically reminiscent of those "year-end summaries" that some folks send out, it's hardly one of the more attractive cards, but undeniably informative.
They seemed even more festive than usual in 2001, but with the simple, direct message "Merry Christmas from Pet Shop Boys."
2001 card
By contrast, with the Iraq War looming, the Pet Shop Boys (wearing rabbit headgear perhaps to soften the message) offered a surprisngly political greeting for their 2002 card. But if you can't wish for peace on earth at Christmastime, then when?
The 2003 card set the silhouette cutouts of the "Miracles" single overtop winter scenery.
2003 card
For 2004 the Boys once again shared something extra-special, this time in the form of a DVD featuring highlights from their September 12, 2004 live performance of their Battleship Potemkin score at London's Trafalgar Square.
2004 card
One of my favorites: a whole choir of caroling cartoon Pet Shop Boys (stylistically similar to their depictions on the cover of that year's Back to Mine collection) graced the 2005 card.
2005 card
Taking off from their recent Fundamental album cover, neon mistletoe hung above the Boys' heads on their 2006 Christmas card.
2006 card
Once again a recent album proved the inspiration for the 2007 card. This time it was Disco 4, only now the lights were decidedly more in the holiday vein.
2007 card
Punning wordplay was the order of the season in 2008, with Neil and Chris fitting their own names into their holiday greetings.
2008 card
The balloons seen on their recent Party and Christmas releases made one final appearance on their 2009 card.
2009 card
In 2010 they wore the feathered hats used during part of that year's Pandemonium tour show in silhouetted shots.
2010 card
Hans Christian Andersen's ballet dancer cutout from the cover of The Most Incredible Thing appeared atop a holiday tree in 2011, along with the inside message "Pet Shop Boys wish you The Most Incredible Christmas."
2011 card
The image that appeared on the front of the 2012 card, with a mildly "futuristic-looking" Neil and Chris, was shot during a photo session for an upcoming style magazine spread (rather than during tests for their "Memory of the Future" single packaging, as I had originally speculated). They were joined for the holidays by the photographer's dog, Jumble, wearing what looks like an especially famous pair of Chris's designer sunglasses.
2012 card
The 2013 card parlayed the design of the cover of that year's album Electric by transforming its "electric wave pattern" into a line of evergreens, evocative of undecorated Christmas trees, or perhaps a stand of wintry pines in the snow.
The card for 2014—the first PSB Christmas e-card, delivered via email, though some recipients received a traditional "hard copy" as well—employs a star theme, referring to the biblical Star of Bethlehem. It's not at all clear what the star's green light, evocative of the Electric Tour's "banging lasers," is illuminating, although the resulting Christmas-tree effect is marvelous, with the star serving as the traditional one atop the tree (and thereby becoming, in effect, a visual double entendre). If I were to venture a guess, I would say it was lighting a portion of the moon's surface. But it might just as well be the rough face of a stucco wall or even random dust in the air. Whatever the case, upon opening, the card reads "Pet Shop Boys wish you a Merry Christmas."
2014 card
Registered fans received via email an animated graphic—a "Snowman Neil" and a "Snowman Chris" that build step-by-step from the ground up—which serves as the Boys' 2015 Christmas card. The message (the last thing added by the animation) reads "Pet Shop Boys wish you a Merry Christmas." Like the previous year, some fortunate people also received a corresponding physical card with the same snowmen and message, but of course without the animation. Meanwhile, the design of the card may be related to the artwork for Super, the PSB album that would soon follow in its wake, scheduled for April 1, 2016 release. While the card's gray-and-white color scheme seems to have nothing to do with Super, its use of simple, solid circles may have been intended as a subtle preview of the album cover's prominent use of a solid-colored circle.
2015 card
The 2016 card is brilliant in its simplicity, elegance, and seeming inevitability, although of course it's not "inevitable" at all. It just seems that way because some very creative person thought of it. Again (as with the Christmas before) and even more obviously taking off from the simple circle motif of the Super album artwork, what round thing is most commonly associated with the season? Nothing more so than a classic round Christmas tree ornament emblazoned with the album title. And that's all there is to the card's outside artwork. The inside offers an again simple "Season's greetings" message. Incidentally, the e-card version that went via email to registered fans had the added bonus of animation: the ornament spun around several times, stopping to reveal the word "SUPER." 2016 card
Once again in 2017, fans received an e-card, which starts out as a series of colorful concentric circles appearing onscreen—each representing one of the countries visited on their Super Tour, a motif (derived from the cover of Super) carried over from the commemorative booklet sold among the tour merchandise—gradually coalescing into the shape of a Christmas tree laden with ornaments. After a few moments, the tree disappears and is replaced by a rapid sequence of holiday greetings in 34 different languages before concluding with the English "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Pet Shop Boys." The print version simply displays the completed tree, with the inside listing the full set of multilingual holiday wishes. 2017 card
I find the 2018 card, delivered in the by now familiar e-card format, as delightful as it is clever. It takes design elements from selected PSB releases and repurposes them as wrapping paper for a stack of Christmas presents, which (in its animated version) "build" one package at a time before topping-off with the message "Pet Shop Boys wish you a Merry Christmas." The print version shows the completed set of packages, with the message appearing inside the gate-fold card. Among the releases given this holiday nod are the albums (roughly from top to bottom) Bilingual, Very, Yes, Electric, Introspective, and—with both the horizontal black-and-white stripes and the diagonal orange stripes—PopArt (although those latter two sets of stripes themselves hark back respectively to one of the "Suburbia" single packages and to the Boys' infamous cone-hats for the "Can You Forgive Her?" single and video). It's a fabulous conceit that works on several levels. Hey, I wouldn't mind finding Pet Shop Boys albums under the tree, especially if I didn't already have them all. wink 2018 card
The 2019 e-card is among the most curious ever sent by the Boys. It simply depicts a goose (presumably a Christmas goose) in a snowstorm and a textual holiday greeting. Its only "design connection" with their roughly contemporaneous releases, including the album Hotspot, released the following January, appears to be with regard to the predominantly gray coloring of that album's cover and the fact that the card's "Happy Christmas from Pet Shop Boys" message is in the same font and in the same lower-right position as text on the front sleeves of the album and its associated singles. 2019 card
Shortly before the 2020 holiday season, the Funko company, famed for its licensed pop culture collectibles, released figurines of Neil and Chris as the latest in its series of rock/pop stars to be so commemorated. The Pet Shop Boys' 2020 e-card depicted these figurines (a couple of toys for Christmas?), only wearing surgical masks in recognition of the COVID-19 pandemic that had wreaked havoc around the world that year and was still continuing to do so. The figurines as depicted on the e-card were also animated, with "Neil" tapping his foot and "Chris" playing his keytar. The message read—

Merry Christmas
Love, Pet Shop Boys
Hope to see you in 2021

—with the "Hope to" serving as an acknowledgment that, if the tide of the pandemic isn't stemmed soon, their touring plans, already postponed from 2020, might need to be postponed further to 2022.

2020 card
The 2021 digital card offered a special treat: not just an animated image—the silhouetted Pet Shop Boys against a backdrop of the Northern Lights with an overlay of falling snow—but a brief song (just 24 seconds) that might be called "Love Came Down at Christmas," the lyrics of which refer, in an only slightly oblique manner, to the traditional Christian religious observance. 2021 ccard
In 2022 their e-card initially displayed black-and-white photos of Neil and Chris in the bizarre "tuning fork" headgear (I don't know how else to describe it) that they wore on the Dreamland Tour and which were prominently featured in its associated ads and promos. But it quickly employed a wintry "snowfall dissolve" to morph into a full-color photo of them sitting in the famed Singing Beach Chairs in Santa Monica, California—oversized chairs (dating from 1987) designed in such a way that the wind causes them to produce musical tones reminiscent of an oboe—with the messages "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" and "Love, Pet Shop Boys." These changing images were accompanied by a short, simple piano melody (as far as I know, an original composition) with a multi-tracked Neil singing atop it, "Christmas night – warmth and light," followed by him saying "Merry Christmas" and Chris adding "… and a happy new year." Highly prized paper copies with these separate images on each side didn't, of course, include the music, but they boasted the Boys' signatures. 2021 ccard 2021 ccard
The Boys gave us an advance sneak peek at their 2023 card when in early November they offered for sale on their official website a subset of their past Christmas cards, including one that we'd never seen before. Seeing as how its "pixelated faces" artwork was clearly based on the sleeve of their 2023 reissue of Relentless, it seemed a virtual sure thing that this would be their 2023 card. When the animated digital card appeared, it indeed featured the Boys' pixelated faces, but with a dark blue backgound (as opposed to the purple shown in that preview) with "snowfall," the faces side-by-side, and retro 'eighties videogame sound effects in keeping with the style of the authorized videos released for the Relentless reissue. The rare physical card, by contrast, had a green background. Its reverse, with a red background, offered the textual message: "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Love, Pet Shop Boys," which had scrolled down the digital card. 2023 digital card 2023 card