Fears that the traditional Christmas card is heading for extinction in the age of social media may have no basis in truth, according to one Wiltshire charity.

The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust says sales of their popular fund-raising Christmas cards are brisk and show little decline – despite dire warnings from the nay-sayers.

One charity has gone so far as to launch a campaign to preserve the possibly endangered Christmas card. The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (MFPA) 2017 Christmas campaign slogan is: Cards are the Spirit of Christmas.

They worry that with higher postage costs and a younger generation that has grown up using digital and social media for everyday communication, mean the tradition of sending Christmas cards is at risk of becoming lost.

“The greetings card has been at the heart of Christmas celebration for around 150 years and recognition of the threat to this established Christmas tradition prompted the co-operative to deliver a campaign to showcase how much a part of the Christmas experience they are,” a MFPA spokesman said. “The campaign asks a simple question: what if we didn’t send and receive Christmas cards?”

To make their point, the charity has created identical Christmas scenes except for a key feature – one has Christmas cards, and one does not. They say these dramatically demonstrate how cards from friends and family are as intrinsically a part of the whole Christmas experience as the tree and the turkey.

But figures from the Greetings Card Association reveal the death of the Christmas card has been greatly exaggerated – even in the age of Facebook and Twitter.

The latest GCA report shows that in 2016, people in the UK spend more on greetings cards than ever before – up to £1.75 billion in fact.

Nearly 100 million Christmas single cards were sold last year, an estimated 900 million were sold in boxes and packs, and millions were bought from online card sellers.

And research by the Royal Mail reveals that 72 per cent of people who celebrate Christmas prefer to receive a traditional card and only six per cent would prefer a greeting via social media. The most popular design is a wintery scene, followed by humorous cards, then nativity scenes – and then the robin.

The first Christmas card was commissioned in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, and designed by John C Horsley. Only a thousand were printed and one was sold at auction in Wiltshire in 2001 for an impressive £20,000.

This year the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has a selection of beautiful wildlife photographs on their cards – including a fox, a stoat, a duck, a red kite and a yellowhammer. They are sold in packs of 10, either a single design or a mix, for £4.25.

No need to worry about the environment either – the trust has made sure these cards are sustainable. They are printed on FSC card and supplied in bio-degradable packaging.

“We have a whole range of wonderful cards,” said spokesman Courtney Ball. “All of the profits go to the trust, because we produce them. Many of our members buy them every year and they seem to be doing well.”

To buy the trust’s cards, visit www.wiltshirewildlife.org.