WALK in to any card shop over the festive period and you are likely to be faced with walls of cards emblazoned with Santa Claus, piles of presents and cute fluffy animals.

But the noticeable lack of cards with traditional nativity scenes is causing concern for the Swindon-based Bible Society.

The charity has now launched an online personalised card service to cater for people who would rather send cards to loved ones that tell the real Christmas story this season.

Richard Franklin, of the Bible Society, said: “We are hearing from our 300,000 supporters and more widely, that it’s quite hard to find cards which tell the story of Christmas, and people want more choice.

“I know in some charity shops you can often find a lot of these types of cards which is great and we welcome that, but we certainly thought there was a gap in the market.”

The charity launched the service last week and has already received £400 worth of orders.

Richard said: “It is a small site and we had a maximum order of 40 cards but we’ve had to up that because one organisation asked us for 2,000.

“We didn’t expect that huge demand but I think there is definitely some demand there and there are people who would buy nativity cards but make do with Santa or fluffy rabbits.

“It’s about saying that these cards are available if you want them.

“If you take a card covered in Christmas presents, what is that actually about? People giving us something. “But we are saying the Bible tells us a whole lot more about that story of giving, forgiveness, love and hope at Christmas, and that is behind that message, but is it really coming out?

“Our cards predominantly have a religious theme but there are some that don’t, whereas if you walk in to a shop or go on to an internet site, you are confronted with lots that aren’t and you are left asking where are the religious ones.”

The cards, which have a turnaround time of 48 hours, are available from the design-and-print online service at http://printshop.biblesociety.org.uk.

Richard said: “We’ve offered some designs as a starter for 10, but we're eager to find out how people see Christmas these days, and what people's favourite picture of Christmas time really is.”