It's Christmas card season again and it seems the rise of the customised card continues apace.

It's Christmas card season again and it seems the rise of the customised card continues apace.

For an example of what can go wrong when Yuletide fervour and vanity collide just look to the frightful effort by ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie which has come to light this week. A terrifying photo has emerged which shows the pair grimacing out from their latest Christmas card which, one must assume, is the best of the bunch.

Blair appears to be straining forward, teeth bared, like he has just been challenged in a bar brawl. Cherie is playing against type as the damsel in distress and clutches her husband's inflated chest as if to say: "Just leave it. He's not worth it."

I must concede that when we first got our dog Mac (and clearly had a lot more time on our hands) we styled him up for (our only) customised Christmas card. We managed to catch one shot of him wearing a Santa hat in the vicinity of the Christmas tree where he wasn't trying to relieve himself on the foliage or pull his hat off.

Responses to the card varied from friends (dog lovers) who loved it so much they framed it and added it to their bureau of cherished family pictures and to others who wondered vaguely why we had send them a slightly blurred card with a random dog on it.

For most of us, Christmas is a time to let loved ones know we are thinking of them. For a sad minority, it offers an annual opportunity to show how wonderfully life has worked out. Enter the round robin newsletter. Subtext: I'd simply love to write a personal message to you but what with all the fabulous things we have going on, I simply don't have time. Hope you are still well/coping/alive.

Like many of the male of the species, my husband's efforts in the Christmas card sending department amount to zilch, so if we want to assure people that they have not some how inadvertently offended us in the previous 12 months, it falls to me. Every year it's the same. While 100% of the cards will be written, of these only around 45% will be addressed from memory and promptly posted. Another 35% will, after much texting and emailing, be furnished with an address and posted. A sad 20% will only ever be partially addressed and never posted. They will spend the remainder of the year riding around in my handbag getting covered in pen and crumbs before being reluctantly consigned to the bin.