If you’re already plotting festivities for the 2021 holiday season, we’re going to be great friends. Here at Postable, we’re kind-of-sort-of obsessed with the holidays and get all sorts of giddy about answering questions like when to send Christmas cards. We’ve got straight forward answers along with plenty of tips and tricks to make you a Christmas card sending pro in no time. So hold onto your horses (or reindeer) and let’s dive right in.
As a rule of thumb, the post office typically takes 3-7 days to deliver domestic mail. In some cases it may take less than 3 days and others it can take longer than 7. It happens. But for the most part, the 3-7 day rule of thumb applies. That is of course, unless it’s the holiday season. When the number of people using the post office increases, it tends to slow the mail delivery times down. And while not everyone mails a Mother’s Day card (shame on you), most people do place holiday cards and holiday gifts in the mail at about the same time every year.
As you can imagine, this kind of mail traffic causes some delays. During the holidays the typical mailing time slows down to around 2 weeks. Sure, there’s still a chance it will be less than that, but in our experience 2 weeks is generally the case.
And if 2020’s extraordinary holiday shipping delays have a chance to repeat themselves, we’re looking at delays potentially longer than 2 weeks.
Pro tip: You can schedule all of your Christmas cards ahead of time with Postable. Beautiful cards mailed for you.
So, how to know when to mail out your cards in order to get them delivered on time? Let’s break it down by a few holidays.
When to send out Christmas cards?
December 1st – December 10th (sort of)*
In an ideal world, you’d mail your Christmas cards on December 1st. This will give them plenty of time to arrive by Christmas and will make your recipients feel the holiday love leading up to the big day. Be careful not to mail them too early — if Thanksgiving hasn’t graced 2021 yet, we’d suggest holding off on mailing your Christmas cards.
Again, remember to estimate about 2 weeks for your mailing time (especially this year as the USPS might be facing similar delays as in 2020). Also consider that the post office doesn’t deliver on December 24th or 25th (postal workers have families too!). Count the days from December 23rd — this gives you December 9th as your 2 week buffer.
It’s not an exact science.
But if you want to assure your cards arrive prior to Christmas — place them in the mail by or around December 10th (the closer to the 1st the better). They may arrive a few days early, but by the time December rolls around we’re all in a permanent holiday state of mind anyway!
And if by some chance your Christmas cards arrive a few days after Christmas, just know that your recipients will still feel the love and joy from your greeting. Many people enjoy receiving Christmas cards after the 25th because it keeps them in a jolly state of mind (the Christmas tree is still up after all).
When to order Christmas cards?
If you’re planning on writing and addressing your Christmas cards yourself, you’ll want to order your Christmas cards *well in advance. Not only will you want to leave time to place them in the mail, but don’t forget to allow plenty of time for yourself to write your personal message, address and stamp all the envelopes. Speaking of which — don’t forget to buy your USPS stamps in advance too!
In summary, if you’re writing and sending your Christmas cards yourself then make sure to do the following *before* December arrives:
- Order Christmas cards and envelopes
- Order USPS stamps
- Write your personal Christmas message
- Address and stamp your envelopes
If you have all this done by the time December rolls around, you’ll be ready to place your cards in the mail right on time!
If your to-do list is quickly taking over your life or you simply wish to spend your free time on other holiday-esque activities like baking cookies and proceeding to eat them all, Postable (hey, that’s us!) can address and mail them all out for you. Yes, we use real USPS First Class stamps. All you do is the fun part: choose and customize from a selection of gorgeous cards designed by world-class artists! Yes, you can order a box of cards too!
Who should you send Christmas cards to?
The question should really be what card should you send to whom because at the end of the day, most people in your life would be delighted to receive a Christmas card from you. Especially in 2021 when we’re all yearning for more and more connection with one another. On the other hand, maybe skip mailing your long lost friend from middle school a random Christmas greeting.
The key to remember is not everyone on your list should receive the *same Christmas card. Your friends will adore seeing your kids’ smiling faces, but may very well confuse your clients.
Pro tip: You can choose and customize different card designs when you use Postable’s Christmas cards and select the recipients with ease.
Some suggestions on people you should send a Christmas card to (certainly not a limited list):
- Friends (both immediately close and those you see on occasion, but are still a part of your life)
- Clients (check out Postable Business Holiday cards)
When to mail Holiday cards?
December 1st – December 15th (sort of)
Holiday cards, much like Christmas cards have a similar dilemma — the post office seasonal back up. If you’re just aiming to get your holiday cards delivered before the end of December — try to get your cards in the mail by December 15th. This will give the post office about 2 weeks to get the cards out and delivered. The earlier you get them out, the less of a chance there is that your cards will get lost in the post office shuffle.
As with Christmas cards, if they’re a little late — no harm done. Most people will still be getting a stream of holiday cards in early January along with their New Year’s cards. If nothing else, it’ll give them that little boost of festive joy that they’ll already be longing for.
When to send out business holiday cards?
December 1st – December 15th (or later)
Here is the simple answer: same as your other holiday cards. Business holiday cards tend to be mailed in bulk quantities and thus represent a decent investment, so we’d recommend mailing these out as close to December 1st as possible to avoid having any of them get lost in the post office holiday shuffle.
If you end up placing them in the mail later, it’s ok. They may get received later in December or early January, but your clients and employees will appreciate receiving them nonetheless.
Pro tip: Sending business holiday cards to clients vs. employees.
Given the differences in relationships between the one you have with your customers and the one you have with your employees it only makes sense that you treat the cards a bit differently. When addressing business holiday cards to your clients you’ll want to use their professional office address. On the other hand, you’ll want to mail your company holiday cards to your employees’ homes.
You may also want to consider mailing different designs to your clients vs. your employees to make the cards feel more personalized.
When to mail New Year’s cards?
December 1st – January 7th
New Year’s cards are a bit unique in that the holiday they’re celebrating will continue for a whole lot longer than just one day. Because of this you’ve got yourself a much wider acceptable window. You can send your Happy New Year’s Cards early during the holiday season or if you happen to wait until the last minute — getting New Year’s Cards during January still makes perfect sense. So long as your recipients get your New Year’s wishes before the end of January, they’re fair game!
This means you can place your cards in the mail pretty much as early as the beginning of December up until about the first week of January.
When to mail Thanksgiving Cards?
November 7th – November 14th
Thanksgiving cards — while totally awesome and greatly appreciated by everyone — don’t tend to cause the same rush of mail as the rest of the holidays. Which, of course, means good news for those who may wait until the last minute! The typical 3-7 day delivery time still applies so if you get wrapped up in life it’s not the end of the world. Though, as mentioned before, there may be extra slow downs this year (as last year) so keep that in mind.
Remember — the post office will not be delivering the cards on Thanksgiving. This means when you’re calculating how far in advance (using the 3-7 days) use the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as your day 1. That means if you want to get your cards delivered by Thanksgiving — put them in the mail by November 16th. Also something to keep in mind — late Thanksgiving cards don’t have quite the same effect as late Christmas cards. People will still love getting a late Christmas card. However, once Thanksgiving has come and gone, people have moved on to more exciting things. So try to get those Thanksgiving cards in the mail on time. Earlier is definitely better in this case.
Timing on sending cards out-of-state or overseas:
If you’re mailing out-of-state Christmas cards, the timing recommendations mentioned earlier generally apply the same across all continental states.
However, if you’re mailing overseas you’ll want to take special consideration. Timing will be varied and depend greatly on the recipient country’s postal service. As a very general rule of thumb international mail usually takes at least 14 days during non-holiday months.
How to send Christmas cards out on time?
Ok, so we’ve told you when to mail out your Christmas cards, but now you’re wondering how to make it actually happen with everything else you’ve got going on. We get it. To-do lists are never ending. So here are steps to actually making it happen in 2021!
Put each step here on your calendar!
Organize your Christmas card list.
Write your holiday message.
Address & stamp the envelopes.
Put them in the mail!
Pro tip: You can skip steps 3, 4 & 5 with Postable.
Put it on your calendar.
If you’re an avid calendar user then you know the value in actually adding tasks in. If it’s not on your calendar, it may very well not happen… At least not on time.
Organize your Christmas card list.
The first step is to get organized. Whether you have a list from previous years or you’re starting from scratch. Make a list of folks you’d like to send a card to (refer to the list we mentioned earlier for advice) and then fill out their actual mailing addresses.
You can use a spreadsheet to keep track of everything and send out emails and texts to collect the information. Remember to check if anyone has moved.
The easiest way to do this — without having to figure out Excel or send out a million emails — is to use Postable’s free (yes, free) holiday address book. This handy tool allows you to quickly collect mailing addresses and keep them organized. If you’re already a proud owner of this handy dandy tool, you can even use it to quickly update your recipients’ information.
Safe & secure. Easy to use holiday address book. Collect and organize your Christmas list with ease.
Write your holiday messages.
This should be the easier step. Write from the heart, but keep it short and sweet (this isn’t a novel). Writing heartfelt holiday messages may be tough after the difficult year we’ve all had, but try not to focus too much on the negative.
We’ve gone into further detail in another post on what to write in your Christmas card.
Address & stamp the envelopes.
Have your USPS stamps at the ready and your organized list nearby. We’d suggest knocking this step out all at once depending on how many cards you’re sending or break it down into a few days. Just remember to add this into your calendar!
Postable will do this step for you!
Once you add your personal touches to your chosen design, Postable will address, stamp and mail your Christmas cards for you.
Put them in the mail!
That’s it. If you plan out these steps in your calendar in advance you’ll be able to place your cards in the mail on time.
OR use Postable to easily get all of these steps done in minutes.
Phew. That’s a lot of information to digest all at once. Here’s a quick summary of *general rules:
When to send summary:
- Christmas cards — Dec 1st – December 10th
- Holiday cards — December 1st – December 15th
- Business Holiday cards — December 1st – December 15th
- New Years cards — December 1st – January 7th *most flexible*
- Thanksgiving cards — November 7th – November 14th
Schedule your Christmas & Holiday cards to be mailed out on time for you. Beautiful selection without the hassle.