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 reportedly also included as a bonus with seasonal copies of the Japanese edition of Disco.
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?
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.
The 1989 card featured this delightful image of Chris and Neil in wool caps, strewn with Christmas lights, and hugging a terrier (another reference to Introspective).
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.
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.
"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.
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.
The fluorescently hued 1995 card wished us "Merry Pet Shop Boys" while showing Neil wearing bananas and Chris a wig.
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.
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.
For 1998 the Boys turned themselves into angels designed to sit at the pinnacle of a Christmas tree.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Taking off from their recent Fundamental album cover, neon mistletoe hung above the Boys' heads on their 2006 Christmas 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.
Punning wordplay was the order of the season in 2008, with Neil and Chris fitting their own names into their holiday greetings.
The balloons seen on their recent Party and Christmas releases made one final appearance on their 2009 card.
In 2010 they wore the feathered hats used during part of that year's Pandemonium tour show in silhouetted shots.
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."
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.
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."
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." 2015 card