christmas cards

When to send Christmas cards: Christmas card etiquette and timing

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Planning for the festive season? Christmas cards are a great way to get in the festive mood while reminding your loved ones that you’re thinking of them. And if you’re wondering when to send your cards, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading for our top tips on Christmas card etiquette.

1. Decide who will receive your Christmas cards

Make a list

Before thinking about when to send your cards, first decide who you’re sending them to. It’s always handy to keep a list of family members, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and teachers. This will help you figure out how many cards to order and make sure that nobody gets left out while you’re writing them.

Choose how many cards you’ll send

Wondering how many Christmas cards to send? It’s up to you – you can send them to your nearest and dearest or include extended family to remind them you care. It’s always a good idea to order some extra cards, just in case anyone sends you one unexpectedly and you want to return the favour.

Review your list every year

You can review your list around November to make sure you’re still in touch with each recipient – and if anyone’s moved into a new home in the past year, you can check that you have their correct address. If you typically send cards every year but some recipients haven’t returned your festive greetings, you can consider removing them from your list. And remember, if someone sent you one last year, it’s good Christmas card etiquette to return the favor this year.

2. Add personal touches

Add your own photos

If you celebrated a wedding, special birthday or welcomed a new baby (or furry friend) this year, you can add photos from the occasion to the front of your Christmas cards. These photo Christmas cards make wonderful keepsakes for your relatives as they watch your family grow up each year.

Make your Christmas cards stand out

Add visual interest with unique paper stocks and finishes. At VistaPrint you can find matte, pearl shimmer, glossy and embossed foil Christmas cards, plus cards with scalloped edges, so you’ve got plenty of interesting options to choose from. Create a card that only you could make – and that your recipient will be delighted to receive!

Choose a colourful envelope

A colourful envelope that matches your card will help it stand out among your recipient’s post, adding to the excitement of receiving a hand-addressed card. For maximum festiveness, place your card in the envelope facing upwards so they’ll see your beautiful design as soon as they open it.

3. What to write in your card

Handwrite your cards

Christmas card etiquette is all about making it perfectly personalised. We recommend adding your own custom pre-printed Christmas card message on the front of the card and a handwritten note inside, for an extra personal touch that you can’t find in an email or virtual greetings card.

Get the whole family involved

You can ask each member of the family to sign their own name or add a personal message. Remember that your Christmas card should be uniquely you, so don’t hesitate to throw in your sense of humour or add an inside joke that will make the recipient smile.

4. How to address Christmas cards

How to address your recipients

Correctly addressing your recipients is an important part of Christmas card etiquette. When you’re sending cards to close relatives or friends, you can address them with their first name. But if they’re an acquaintance, use formal titles like Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr.

Make sure your writing is legible

If you’re handwriting the recipient’s address, do so with a pen and not a marker or pencil. This will make sure your writing is clear and readable, helping your card arrive at its intended destination.

Include your own address

You can also write your own address on the back of the envelope or inside the card to ensure your family and friends can send you their own season’s greetings if they wish to. This is especially important if you’ve recently moved into a new home as people might not know your new address yet.

VistaPrint Tip

Return address labels are a handy way to avoid re-writing it every time, while adding a bit of extra personality to your envelope.

5. When to send Christmas cards

Get a head start

Wondering when to send Christmas cards? It’s always a great idea to plan ahead. Post your cards 2-3 weeks in advance – or even earlier if you’re sending them internationally. This will give your cards enough time to arrive in case of postal delays. Sending them ahead of time also means that your recipients can display them around their home in the days leading up to the festive season.

Give people time to respond

It’s Christmas card etiquette to send your cards in advance. This gives your recipients enough time to send one back, just in case they forgot to include you in their first batch of cards.

Order your cards in advance

As a final tip, if you’re creating personalised cards with your own photos or a unique message, make sure to order in advance so you’ll have enough time to add your handwritten notes and post them out.