Ah, the holiday card. It's an opportunity to send tidings of comfort and joy, to bestow best wishes, to hail peace, love, happiness, and all the rest.
Or, it's an opportunity to remind the recipients that you're really hot, smart, privileged, and generally deserving of attention.
The indulgent celebrity holiday card has become as time-honored a tradition as eggnog and Manischewitz. This year, the Kardashians (don't know them? Just turn on E! or look at any red carpet photo gallery from the past 12 months) take the fruitcake with their over-the-top, Addams Family-esque portrait that channels the holiday spirit about as effectively a photograph of lab rats.
Below, ABCNews.com analyzes the Kardashians' card as well as those of four more celebrities who use the holiday season greeting to celebrate themselves. (After the Kardashians, click on the headings in bold to see the star card in question.)
1. The Kardashians' Card
On "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," they're lighthearted, loquacious, and above all else, loud. But with their latest holiday card, the Kardashians are sending the message that they're more than run-of-the-mill reality TV stars. They can be stoic. They can be steely. Really!
What, you don't believe them? Maybe if they jut out their hips and elbows just a little bit more … oh, no, they've toppled off the stairs and are sprawled on the floor -- reality TV roadkill! (Ding, ding, ding -- there's next year's card!)
2. Hugh Hefner's Card (Click HERE to See):
The message in Playboy honcho Hugh Hefner's card is clear: "I'm 82 years old (the card was sent in 2008), I have two twin-sister girlfriends who are a quarter of my age, and I convinced them to pose in nothing but short-shorts and body paint for my holiday card. Don't you wish you were me?" Don't say "yes" too fast -- Hef and the gals, Kristina and Karissa Shannon, split earlier this year.
3. Joan Collins' Card (Click HERE to See):
For the celebrity who finds a photograph too gauche, the caricature offers a more palatable blend of self-focus and whimsy. In 2008, actress/author/diva Joan Collins had herself rendered as a soft, sketchy odalisque, sprawled on an eye-catching red backdrop with "Season's Greetings" scrawled above.
Collins is saying she's fabulous, she's busy, and this card, which looks like it was dashed off in a matter of minutes though it probably took much longer than that, ought to light up your holiday season in the same way that her mere presence lights up a room.
4. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon's Card (Click HERE to See):
Leave it to Mariah Carey to take caricature over-the-top. Last year, she and her husband, Nick Cannon, put out a holiday card that painted them as cartoons. A couple of conclusions can be drawn from it: one -- Carey thinks she's a Japanese Anime Barbie doll; two -- she really, really likes dogs.
5. James and Kedakai Lipton's Card (Click HERE to See):
Why let Hallmark say it when you can say it better? In the only example here that does not feature a pictorial representation of the celebrity at hand, "Inside the Actor's Studio" host James Lipton and his wife, Kedakai Lipton, crafted a recent holiday card out of quips inspired by his 1968 book, "An Exaltation of Larks," an anthology of collective nouns both real (i.e., plague of locusts) and invented (i.e., a convulsion of belly dancers).
The words that line the edge of the card are hopelessly highbrow, hammering home the point that the Liptons are, indeed, two smart cookies. They might have imagined this scenario at the homes of recipients: "Oh honey, look! It's a card from the Liptons. Oh, they're so clever. 'A gobble of turkey dinners, a bouquet of wines, an excelsis of carols.' What does that even mean? What are they talking about? Oh, well, they're just so smart. Let's chuckle to show that we get it. Chuckle. Chuckle. Chuckle."