When Are the Christmas Post Cut-Off Dates for 2021?

The lead up to Christmas can feel quite overwhelming, especially if you’ve got a large family or a huge circle of friends. With so much to do, it can be hard to know where to start. One of the first things that people do in the lead up to Christmas is to buy, write and post their Christmas cards.

It’s generally accepted that the beginning of December is the start of the Christmas period. Most people aim to give out their Christmas cards sometime between December 1st and the week before Christmas.

If you’re planning to send your Christmas cards in the post, you’ll need to be aware of how long they’ll take to reach your recipient. So, when is the last posting date for Christmas cards in 2021? And will the coronavirus pandemic make any difference? Let’s find out.

When Should I Post My Christmas Cards?

Most people try to time the posting of birthday cards so that they will arrive on the recipient’s birthday (or the day before). But for Christmas cards, it’s a little different. You’ll want to make sure your recipient receives their card well before Christmas day itself. This is because:

  • Cards help people get into the Christmas spirit, so they like to open them a little early
  • The festive season is very busy for Royal Mail, so post may take longer than usual to arrive – and there’s no post at all on Christmas Day
  • Many people like to use their Christmas cards as decorations, hanging them up on the wall or displaying them on the mantelpiece or windowsill
  • You’ll probably have so many cards to send, and so many other things to do in the lead up to Christmas, that you’ll want to get Christmas cards out of the way ASAP.

Most people agree that the Christmas season begins on December 1st, or the first day of Advent. So, this is a good time to start writing and posting your Christmas cards. The first of December is when kids start opening their chocolate calendars, and when most people start to put up their Christmas trees and decorations.

How Early Is Too Early to Send Christmas Cards?

You may have noticed that shops seem to be preparing for Christmas earlier and earlier each year. Some stores even start playing Christmas music right after Halloween has finished, on November 1st. But most people consider this too soon, and certainly too early to receive a Christmas card.

We’d advise to wait until December before you start giving out Christmas cards. You may get a few funny looks if you start sending them in November! Of course, you can certainly buy and write your cards earlier than this, if you want to be well-prepared. You should have your cards stamped and addressed in plenty of time, ready to post them in time for Christmas.

What Is the Last Date to Post Christmas Cards?

For most of the year, Royal Mail 1st Class post is usually delivered the next working day (which means Monday to Saturday, excluding bank holidays). 2nd Class post, on the other hand, usually arrives in 2-3 working days.

So, if you post a letter on Monday, you can expect it to arrive on Tuesday if you sent it via first class, or on Wednesday or Thursday for second class. This is assuming you’ve posted it before the last post box collection of the day, which varies by area.

However, post may take a little longer at busier times of year, such as the Christmas period. This is because there’s simply more post to be delivered than usual. Here are the last posting dates for Christmas 2021.

Royal Mail 2nd Class

Second class is the cheapest way to post Christmas cards. A second class stamp will set you back just 65p, which means that if you’ve got a great many cards to send, it’s the most economically sensible option.

The drawback, of course, is that it’s the slowest service. To guarantee that your cards will arrive before Christmas, post them no later than Friday 18th December if you’re using a second-class stamp.

Royal Mail 1st Class

For first class post, you’ve got a little more time to play with. Christmas cards sent via first class will arrive quicker – but you will have to pay 76p for each stamp.

During the festive season, first class post may take up to 3 working days to arrive (and no post is delivered on Christmas day itself). So, Royal Mail recommends that you post your first class Christmas cards no later than Monday 21st December. The same goes for Royal Mail Tracked 48.

Royal Mail Tracked 24

Royal Mail Tracked 24 is a service which can only be purchased online – so you can’t walk into your local Post Office and ask for it. Using this service, post is normally delivered within 24 hours. It’s also tracked, so you can keep an eye on the whereabouts of your delivery – perfect if you’re sending something valuable.

But in the busy week before to Christmas, items posted with Royal Mail Tracked 24 may take an extra day to arrive. So, post your card no later than Tuesday 22nd December.

Special Delivery Guaranteed

Special Deliver y Guaranteed is the fastest Royal Mail delivery option. This service guarantees delivery the very next working day, no matter what. Yes, this applies to the Christmas period too! Unfortunately, though, it’s extremely expensive. Sending just one standard sized card using Special Delivery Guaranteed will set you back £6.70.

However, you can post it as late as Wednesday 23rd December, and it will arrive on Christmas Eve (remember, there’s no post on Christmas Day, as it’s a bank holiday).

International Post

The last Christmas post dates for international delivery will vary, according to where in the world you’re sending your card. Unsurprisingly, the farther away your post is travelling, the longer it will take to arrive. The cut-off date also depends on which service you use – International Economy is cheaper and slower than International Standard.

For example, using International Economy, a card sent to Eastern Europe should be posted no later than Monday 2nd November to arrive by Christmas. Using International Standard will buy you more time – you can post it as late as 11th December. A Christmas card sent to a country outside of Europe, however, must be sent even earlier. Visit the Royal Mail website to check services and prices by country.

Will the Pandemic Affect Christmas Post?

The dates we’ve given for the last Christmas post are the dates officially recommended by Royal Mail. But the times we’re currently living in are a little unsteady and uncertain, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many services are operating more slowly than usual, including the postal service. This is for a number of reasons, including:

  • Coronavirus-related staff absences (due to catching Covid-19, shielding, or precautionary self-isolation)
  • The implementation of social distancing (reducing the number of staff in each vehicle and shared space)
  • Rigorous sanitisation measures
  • The general public sending more post than normal, due to not being able to see loved ones face-to-face

It is possible, therefore, that your Christmas post may take slightly longer to arrive than it usually would. If possible, aim to send your cards, letters and presents a few days earlier than the cut-off dates, just to be on the safe side.

When Should I Order My Christmas Cards?

It’s so much easier and quicker to order Christmas cards online, rather than going to a physical shop to buy them. And what with the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no doubt that it’s safer, too! Online Christmas card shopping is just as fun, but without the risk.

At Christmas Connections, you can choose from hundreds of different Christmas cards and have them delivered to your door, complete with envelopes. All of our cards are completely customisable, so you can edit the message inside – and many of our designs come with front personalisation, too. Our designs start from just 73p, and we’ll donate 10p from the sale of every card to a charity of your choice.

We aim to approve, print and ship all orders within 3 working days. But to be on the safe side, we’d recommend placing your order at least 7-10 days before you have to start posting your cards. The closer it gets to Christmas, the busier it gets – so give yourself plenty of time!

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