When Is the Appropriate Time To Send Christmas Cards?

Christmas cards have an expected mailing timeline, despite when you want to send them.

I live for Christmas cards. I love opening the mailbox to find the usual stack of bills and catalogs replaced with red and green envelopes stuffed with holiday greetings and smiling photos of loved ones. But while I love receiving them, my family and I weren't always the best about getting them out the door in time. Our Christmas cards sometimes turned into New Year's cards, Valentine's Day cards, and next year's Christmas cards. Owner and founder of Birmingham, Alabama-based stationery company Dogwood Hill, Jennifer Hunt, shares her tips for sending Christmas cards on time. Here are the best etiquette rules to follow to make sure your Christmas cards arrive right on time.

Christmas Card Display
Mandy Busby Creative

Christmas Card Mailing Etiquette

When Should You Start Mailing Christmas Cards?

"Ideally, holiday cards would be mailed out the first week of December," says Hunt. "But receiving cards all the way up to Christmas Eve is still acceptable and fun!"

Hunt recommends starting early—as in October- to avoid the holiday chaos. "If you're super on top of the game, we always offer an "early bird" special before Halloween. So if you have your photo and are ready to order, do so in advance to take advantage of the early sale. Then you have November to prep your cards for sending at the beginning of December."

How Can You Speed Up the Christmas Card Process?

One way to move the process is to choose your card before you even take your family photo, says Hunt. "That way, you can make sure to frame the photograph perfectly to fit inside your favorite card. You can also plan your attire that way too."

How Early Should You Purchase Christmas Cards?

In terms of sketching out your Christmas card timeline, it's important to note when your stationery company guarantees delivery of your finished cards. For Dogwood Hill Collective, says Hunt, it takes seven to ten business days to print your cards and get them to you, so that's something to keep in mind.

Do You Need To Address Cards by Hand?

It's also good to consider whether or not you'll be addressing them yourself. Dogwood Hill Collective offers address printing on the envelopes, but you can also opt to address them yourself. While it's time-consuming, I think there's something sweet about addressing the envelopes by hand, as it's also a great time to add personalized notes to the cards to make them feel a little more special.

How Many Cards Should You Buy?

When you start the Christmas card ordering process, order more than you think you'll need. That way, says Hunt, you can return festive greetings to those who unexpectedly send a holiday card your way.

What if You Can't Get Your Cards Ready by Christmas?

Of course, if the craziness of the holidays catches up to you and you can't get things together in time to send out a Christmas card, all hope is not lost, says Hunt. "New Year's cards, which can be sent throughout the month of January, are great options!" And with Christmas credit card bills rolling in all January, we know a happy greeting in the mailbox is a welcome break.

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