Get those stamps ready now.

By Katherine Owen
September 27, 2018
A birch-bark card holder displays the Christmas photo-card bonanza. To make it, Wolter glued strips of bark to a piece of plywood.
Laurey W. Glenn

For all the buildup leading up to the holidays, like sparkly Christmas decor set out in shops at the same time as spooky halloween decor, or jingly commercials for must-have gifts that start running just after schools start back in session, it sure does seem easy to forget to send holiday cards out on time. Maybe you took the family photo back in July—matching khaki shorts, pale blue tunics, and all—or you're still waiting to just stumble upon for the perfect (and primo-priced) box set. Either way, you have until around the first week in December to get. it. together. Get some printed, add a personal message, and put them in the mail.

The first week in December is the sweet spot—it's after Thanksgiving, so the card doesn't arrive well ahead of the actual season, but there's still plenty of lead time to make up for inevitable delays.

Shutterfly breaks it down by the following best dates for mailing Christmas Cards:

1. Send personal cards to family and friends 2-3 weeks before Christmas.
2. Send business cards to professional contacts anytime between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.
3. And if you're sending a card to a service member, be sure to put it in the mail 4-6 weeks in advance of the holiday.

According to the USPS, last year, for delivery by Dec. 24, the absolute mail-by dates were:

1. For first-class mail, Dec. 19
2. For priority mail, Dec. 20
3. For priority mail express, Dec. 22

WATCH: Christmas Card Etiquette Mistakes We Hope You'll Never Make

Ordering Christmas cards early isn't just good manners—it's also more economical. No rush shipping or expedited production fees. And mailing cards promptly after Thanksgiving kills two birds with one stone: you're free to enjoy a month of festivities (and check allll the other things off your list) and you avoid potential delays, ensuring your cards arrive within the holiday season. And remember—it's the holidays, you're supposed to enjoy them. If a few cards arrive late, (or hey, not at all!) Christmas rolls around every year. There's always the next.