When to Mail Christmas Cards

As shopping for last-minute presents and holiday baking and cooking often take priority in busy December schedules, sending holiday cards can be one of the tasks that can easily make it to the bottom of your to-do list. That doesn’t have to be the case. If you know when to mail Christmas cards so that they arrive on time to your recipients, you’ll be able to plan accordingly for sending your cards filled with holiday greetings.

When Christmas Cards Should Arrive

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While you won’t find concrete rules for the right or wrong times when holiday cards should arrive, you should send your holiday cards before the last-minute mailing rush starts. In general, you want your cards to reach your recipients about one to two weeks before the holiday mentioned in the card. The following guidelines offer some ideas:

  • Cards containing messages of gratitude and thankfulness work well for arriving during the last week of November and the first few days of December.
  • Cards with well-wishes for the new year are ideally suited for arriving during the last two weeks of December and the first week of January.
  • Holiday cards with a “Season’s Greetings” message work well for arrival during the month of December.
  • Cards that specifically say “Merry Christmas” should arrive no later than a week before Christmas to ensure your recipients receive them before the holiday.

If you’re wondering when to send Christmas cards and are concerned about timing, just remember that it’s never too early to mail your Christmas cards. By taking some time to plan ahead, you can avoid the last-minute rush and expedited mailing costs to get your holiday cards delivered to your recipients on time.

When to Send Christmas Cards

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During a large part of the year, first-class mail generally takes between one to three days of transit time from sender to recipient, according to the U.S. Postal Service. The busiest week of the holiday season for the Postal Service is generally the last full week before the Christmas holiday. In 2019, Postal Service officials estimated that their mail carriers would deliver approximately 800 million packages between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

When you’re trying to decide when to mail Christmas cards, allow more time for delivery than usual because of the busyness of the season, at least four to seven days. In 2020, coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are affecting mail delivery, which may play a role in your decision on when to send holiday cards. Currently, the Postal Service can no longer accept or deliver international mail to several countries due to COVID-19 service restrictions. If you need to mail a holiday card to an international destination, confirm with the Postal Service before placing your card in the mail.

When to Start Designing

Creating your desired Christmas card takes some time. In fact, the design you choose can be one of the most time-consuming parts of the process. Everyone wants a holiday card to capture a recipient’s attention, be memorable, and convey the sentiment associated with the holiday season.

You may be fortunate to have access to an in-house designer at your company, or you may have to enlist the talents of an independent design professional. Regardless of who will design your Christmas cards, make sure you allow plenty of time for the design process. Aim for about three to four weeks so that you can complete your card design and be ready to move forward with production. If you delay, you could have to pay for rush fees associated with quick-turnaround Christmas card design if you’re working with an outside designer.

When to Start Ordering

Before you place an order for holiday cards, you need to know when you want to send them out. Set a target mail-by date for your cards. When ordering your cards, allow enough time for your holiday card vendor to print, package, and send the cards to you. Don’t forget about budgeting time to personalize, address, and stamp the envelopes.

When creating your holiday to-do list, place ordering your Christmas cards at the top of the list. Allow about three to four weeks for designing, printing, and shipping, just to be safe. Check with your holiday card provider to confirm your ordering deadline.

Tips for Addressing Your Envelopes

At this time of year, the Postal Service can use all the help it can get. By following a few guidelines for addressing your mail, you can ensure that your holiday greetings will reach your recipients on time:

  • Print your address on the envelopes using plain, capital block letters.
  • Avoid punctuation of any type, except for the hyphen in the ZIP-plus-four code. The traditional five-digit ZIP code is strongly recommended for all mail. Businesses mainly use ZIP codes with the plus-four numbers.
  • Use only the state abbreviations approved by the Postal Service, such as MN for Minnesota, for example.
  • Leave an approximate 1/2-inch margin on each side of your envelope. Keep all of the text for the return and mailing addresses within these margins.
  • Allow an approximate 5/8-inch border at the bottom of the envelope to accommodate the postal barcode.
  • Avoid placing stickers, seals, or other items containing adhesives on the outside of the mailing envelopes for your cards.

Focus on Tasks to Keep Your Christmas Card Mailing on Track

If the thought of creating the perfect holiday card causes you to stress, remind yourself that you don’t need to panic. Focus on the following six tasks to keep you on track:

  1. Assign each task a due date on your calendar.
  2. Organize and verify your Christmas card list.
  3. Compose your holiday greeting and design your card.
  4. Send your final card design to your printing provider and place your Christmas card order.
  5. Address the envelopes, place the stamps on the envelopes, and drop the cards in the mail.

Armed with this knowledge of when to mail Christmas cards, you’ll be able to put your mind at ease this holiday season knowing that your recipients will receive your holiday greetings on time.

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