Christmas cards are deeply rooted in the British culture. After all, it was in the United Kingdom that the first Christmas card was sent in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole.
The sending of Christmas cards eventually turned into a firm tradition that has spread to many countries across the globe. All originating from that simple three-panel Christmas card, we now have a wide variety of cards in many designs and styles, carefully crafted to make their recipients feel extra special during the holidays.
With the tradition starting from the United Kingdom, the British are especially particular about how they write and send out their Christmas cards. Here are some of the most important UK Christmas card etiquette tips that you need to know.
1. Be Generous with Your Christmas Card List
The first thing you may wonder is: who should I send Christmas cards to? The answer is quite simple. Be generous, and extend a Christmas card to anyone you want to wish well in the festive season. This could include:
• Family members (both close and distant)
• Your romantic partner
• Colleagues and managers
• Neighbours on your street
• Pen pals and internet friends
In a time when most of us have been isolated from people we care about, sending out a Christmas card is one of the best ways to make them feel loved even from a distance.
There are no real limits as to who you can and can’t send cards to – the great thing about Christmas cards is that the wording and design can be altered to suit anyone, from the newest acquaintance to the oldest and dearest friend.
2. Choose the Right Christmas Card Design
Not everyone will appreciate the same kind of Christmas card, so when picking a design, you should consider the personality of who the card is for.
For example, if you’re sending a card to someone very eco-conscious, avoid choosing a foil or glitter design. Choose a gloss or matte finish card instead, as these can be recycled.
While traditional illustrated and religious cards may work well for your older relatives, they may not be to everyone’s taste – particularly younger people. You could choose a funny, cartoon or contemporary design for your younger recipients instead, for example.
You can even send festive cards to loved ones that don’t celebrate Christmas – simply choose a secular design with no Christmas-related imagery (such as Arctic Fox), and use non-religious wording such as “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”.
3. Start Writing Your Cards in Plenty of Time
You don’t want to be caught up in the middle of the holiday rush and end up sending out your Christmas cards too late. What you may not realise is that Christmas cards are typically exchanged long before Christmas day itself – anytime during the first few weeks of December is normal.
The ideal time to send out these cards would be in the first week of December. So, if you’re ordering your Christmas cards online, do this at least four to six weeks before the holiday season begins.
This will give you enough time to sign, seal, address and deliver all of your cards, and allow for some leeway if there are any unexpected delays. The earlier you order everything, the less exhausting and stressful your card-writing experience will be.
As a general rule, aim to have all your holiday cards posted no later than a week before Christmas if you’re going for second class or economy delivery. You’ll have a few extra days if you’re opting for first class or special delivery.
If for some reason you missed out on the delivery window, you can still send out New Year’s cards instead.
4. Sign Your Christmas Cards by Hand
In a time when we’re all so dependent on technology, receiving a handwritten note is such a refreshing sight for anyone. It shows your recipient that you care about them enough to take time out of your day to wish them a Merry Christmas personally.
At the bare minimum, you should write names and addresses by hand. But if you ask the experts, they would tell you that if these people were close enough to your heart to be included on your holiday card list, they definitely deserve a personalised message.
You don’t need to write an entire essay about them. You just need a sentence or two expressing your appreciation and love in your own words. To save time, you can order personalised Christmas cards online with your custom message printed inside, and simply sign the cards by hand when they arrive.
The great thing about ordering personalised Christmas cards online is that you can also choose a photo upload design to customise your design even further!
5. There Are No Limits on Numbers
The average person might send anywhere between 10 and 100 cards during the holiday season, but this number is highly personal. Don’t feel as though you have to limit your Christmas card list to a certain number.
If you have a big family, or work in a large office where everyone is friendly to each other, then you can of course expect a long list. But if you only want to give Christmas cards to a few people, that’s entirely fine. What matters here is the intention of making these people feel valued on one of the most important seasons of the year.
A good rule to follow is this: if they sent you a Christmas card last year, it’s good etiquette to send them one in return.
6. Take Your Time to Write and Address Your Cards
You won’t have the energy to sign and address cards for 50 different people all in one night. That’s why it’s important to start your Christmas card writing process in plenty of time.
It’s best to write your cards over a series of days, so that you can take your time with it and start afresh each day. Your handwriting will look better if you’re not rushing, and you’ll have longer to think of what to write.
Choose a time when you’re not busy to write on these cards, and avoid distractions so you can really get in the flow of your thoughts.
Another good tip is to address each envelope before putting the card inside – that way, you won’t forget who the card is for after you’ve already sealed it (which becomes more likely the more tired you get).
7. Keep the “Love” to a Minimum
The phrases “with love” or “love from” should only be written for people who are very close to you. For example:
• Your spouse or partner
• Your parents and grandparents
• Your children
• Your siblings
• Your closest friends
If you’re writing for colleagues, business partners, neighbours or acquaintances, it’s better to stick with more general remarks like “best wishes” or “have a good one” (depending on your relationship with the recipient). You can even just write your name to make your card formal.
8. Address Your Recipients Properly
Addressing people properly can be a challenge when writing a Christmas card. So, if you’re not sure how to address your recipients, you can start by remembering that married couples should be addressed as Mr and Mrs. An unmarried woman should be called Miss (unless you know that she prefers to go by Ms), and an unmarried man is always a Mr. Of course, if your recipient has an earned title (such as Dr or Sir), always use this instead.
But if you’re writing to people who are already very close to you like your family members, you can just address them by their names, or a personal term of endearment that you know them by.
9. Use the Right Envelopes
Yes, even your envelope should be carefully chosen to really give the right message to your recipients. Since Christmas cards are considered a “social correspondence,” you need to use an envelope with triangular flaps. Avoid using straight flapped envelopes as they should only be used for business correspondence.
Choose an envelope in a light colour that a dark pen will easily show up on – classic choices are white and cream, although pastel shades of yellow, blue, green and pink can also be used. Avoid dark-coloured envelopes as the postman may have trouble reading the address.
When addressing the envelopes, use a pen that won’t rub off easily, such as a ballpoint pen. Gel pens and fine-liners are always a smudge risk – and this can look terribly unprofessional.
10. Keep Christmas Wishes Short and Simple
Just like writing a letter, e-mail or essay, it’s best to keep your Christmas card message short, concise and to the point. Although you can be more personal with close family and friends, you should try to keep your words to a minimum when you’re addressing colleagues, clients or acquaintances.
There’s no need to write an entire essay! Just choose a few words that express the festive wishes you’d like to send, and add a personal touch or two so that your recipients know that your words are from the heart.
“Merry Christmas to you and yours. We wish you a wonderful festive season full of love, laughter and good food. Here’s hoping the New Year brings you even more happiness than the last! Best wishes from the Smith family.”
Where Can I Order This Year’s Christmas Cards?
Are you ready to start writing your Christmas cards and sending them out to the people who touched your life this year? Follow these simple rules to make sure that you do everything properly, from choosing the right cards to writing your personalised message.
If you want to avoid trawling around the card shops this year, or want to show your loved ones you care with a personalised Christmas card printed with a custom message or photo, head over to Christmas Connections. You’ll find a wide variety of Christmas card designs from the traditional to the contemporary, with themes ranging from animals and birds to classic religious scenes.
All of our Christmas card templates are fully customisable and printed to order. Simply use our easy editor to add in a festive greeting of your choice, and we’ll promptly send your custom cards to you complete with envelopes.
Not only that, but 10p from the sale of every card goes directly to a charity of your choice – so you can support those in need this year with the click of a button.