Millions of greeting cards are sent out each holiday season. Estimates suggest that 85 percent of the United States population, or roughly 250 million people, mails out greeting cards. That adds up to billions of cards going through the postal system — and all in a relatively short period of time.
Men and women who hope to send holiday greeting cards must purchase, prepare and mail the cards early enough so they are received prior to the holiday. It is never too early to begin greeting-card preparation and assembly.
The majority of cards are bought in boxed packages or groupings of photo cards. Gone are the days of hand-picking individual greeting cards for every recipient. This trend toward general-theme cards has streamlined the process and can help senders start their tasks earlier than ever before. Some people like to take advantage of post-holiday sales to stock up on greeting cards for the following year at a deep discount. This means they can write the cards out at their leisure and then simply toss them into the mailbox at the appropriate time.
Much in the way people begin their holiday shopping or decorating right after the Thanksgiving turkey leftovers have been stored away, a good majority of people also begin their greeting-card writing after Thanksgiving as well. Those who want their cards to arrive first will mail them within a few days of Thanksgiving. When sent domestically, it is safe to assume that cards mailed out up to two weeks before Christmas will arrive on time. After that point, you may be risking lateness, particularly for rural delivery addresses unless cards are sent "priority." For those who need to mail cards internationally, sticking close to the end of November will ensure they arrive in a timely manner.
People who want to make a statement and not have their greeting cards get lost in the crowd may intentionally mail them late and lean toward wishing health and prosperity for the new year, rather than sending a card tied to a specific holiday. This gives extra time for mailing and will set cards apart from the many others.
Photo cards have grown in popularity, and people interested in having a professional photographer shoot their holiday card photos would be wise to make an appointment as early as possible. Popular photographers often start holiday photo shoots in October. Keep in mind that the photographs can take a while to be processed and arrive. For those who are on borrowed time, taking a photo with a personal camera and having prints made up at a pharmacy or retail store can save time. It is unlikely that professional photos taken in December can be printed and mailed and still arrive on time. Also, be sure to heed copyright laws concerning photographs. It may be illegal to scan an image from a photographer or photo studio and have prints made without written permission.
Postage is another thing that will have to be considered when mailing out cards. While many cards fall under the weight and size limits of a regular first class postage stamp, unusually shaped envelopes or heavy greeting cards may cost more. Rather than have them returned, it is a good idea to have at least one card weighed at the post office to ensure the right amount of postage is affixed. Some cards will be packaged with envelopes that state "Additional postage may be required" right on the box.
Greeting cards are an important component of the holiday season. Ensuring they arrive on time requires planning and sending them out with ample time to spare.