The 1988 traditional and contemporary Christmas stamps were issued on October 20, 1988, in separate locations.
The traditional stamp was based on the painting "Madonna and Child" by Italian master Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). One of the foremost artists of the Florentine Renaissance, Botticelli is well known for his masterpieces "Saint Sebastian," "Nativity," and "The Birth of Venus." The dedication ceremony for the stamp took place in the East Building Main Auditorium of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Designed by Bradbury Thompson, the stamps were engraved in the offset/intaglio process by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
The contemporary Greetings issue depicted a 1890s-style couple riding in a horse-drawn sleigh. A bright green wreath decorates the front door of a two-story house, evergreens dot the landscape, and a red barn nestles behind the house. The dedication ceremony was located in Berlin, New Hampshire to honor one of America's greatest musical geniuses, Irving Berlin. Designed by Joan Landis, the stamps were printed in the photogravure process by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
In 1988, the traditional Christmas stamp — along with the contemporary version — was produced in a new size format, developed in response to customer requests for larger Christmas stamps that allow space for more attractive designs. The new format — about 50 percent larger than the Christmas issues of 1986 and 1987 — consisted of 300 stamps per sheet configured in six panes of fifty stamps each rather than the customary four panes.
Postal Bulletin (September 29, 1988).