Share the Merry: Our Very Best Christmas Card Tips

PIle of decorated and hand-lettered envelopes in various colors.

The best holiday cards you’ve received are probably the ones people had the best time choosing, writing and sending. They come from a place of authentic love—someone genuinely wants to connect with you, to show you their appreciation, to let you know you’re valued. That’s exactly what sending Christmas cards should feel like.

We’ve pulled together all our best Christmas card tips to simplify card-sending logistics, from finding addresses to figuring out what to write to getting them in the mail on time. That way, you can focus on expressing your feelings and sending your best wishes to your friends and family.

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Why send Christmas cards  

Because it feels good—for you and people who receive them.

Putting a little thought into creating a tangible thing that lets someone know you love them is good for your relationship. It’s also an amazing grounding exercise: It takes reflection and intentional gratitude to make something meaningful for our favorite people and that reminds us how lucky we are to have them in the first place.

And what could help you feel more Christmassy than celebrating love by putting more love out in the world? Get out your favorite pen, put on your favorite carol renditions, grab a festive beverage and get into the spirit.

When to send Christmas cards  

Check the U.S. Postal Service website for the latest information on when to send your cards.

  • Because so many people mail cards for the holidays, it’s a good idea to send yours by First Class mail about two weeks before Christmas.
  • Mail the cards three weeks early if you’re sending overseas or to a military address.
  • Running super-late and want a super-special card to arrive on time? Priority Mail is your friend—it’ll get there in 1-3 business days.

 

But the real answer? Whenever. No one is going to be upset about getting a holiday card from you—early, on time or late. Christmas in July is always an option, too.

Side by side photos of piles of holiday cards in a variety of colored envelopes, decorated and addressed in hand-lettering

How to make your holiday card list  

This is the logistical tips, “prep yourself before you wreck yourself” section. We’re going to make it easy to:

  • Pick a number
  • Go in circles (not as dizzying as it sounds)
  • Make the cut
  • Find your people
  • Keep things organized

 

If you feel like you’ve already got a handle on prep—first of all, good for you. Second of all, maybe still skim the organization ideas below in case one tickles your fancy. You can treat this like a step-by-step game plan or like a choose-your-own-adventure kind of story. Whatever feels right.

Step 1: Pick the number of cards to send

Sending holiday cards should bring you joy, not stress. Time, budget, attention spans and patience are finite resources, so decide about how many cards you can send and get ready to make your list fit. It doesn’t have to be an exact number—just a general idea.

 

Step 2: Go in circles of friends and family

One easy way to organize your sending list, especially if you want to send a lot of cards, is by social circle: immediate family, closest friends, co-workers, extended family, trivia team, church friends, etc. etc. etc.

  • Make a list of the circles you want to hit and start adding people to them. You can write it on a napkin, draw out a Venn diagram, make a spreadsheet—whatever floats your boat.
  • Start close in and work your way out so that you reach the people you’re most wanting to connect with.
  • Or, if your goal is to connect with people you don’t see every day, do the opposite.

 

Step 3: Make cuts like a TV high school theater teacher

If you have to shorten your Christmas card list, it can help to make rules for yourself. Possible rule examples:

  • If you’re unlikely to see people in the next year, they absolutely get a card.
  • If a circle or group is too big, cut it out completely—or save on postage by hand-delivering cards or sending postcards.
  • If you can’t find an address in one try, settle for a DM with holiday emojis.
  • If you’re certain they’ll recycle the card immediately instead of treasuring or displaying it—and that hurts your feelings more than it brings you joy to send the card—then send a text instead.

 

Step 4: Find your people’s addresses

We don’t always have addresses written down. Some easy ways to get them:

  • If it’s a family member, ask your mom. If it’s a pal, ask your most organized mutual friend. If it’s a co-worker, ask your administrative assistant.
  •  Try an all-call on social media, with a request to DM or reply with addresses and zip codes.
  • Look through a map app on your phone—if you’ve ever driven to their house, you might have it there.
  • Try searching their first and last name with their city and state and the word “address.”
  • Send texts, emails or DMs to individuals, copying and pasting the phrase “address, pls.” Maximum results, minimal effort.
  • Check last year’s Christmas cards, if you kept the envelopes. (And this year, when you get a card, take a pic of the return address and add it when you have a chance.)
Hands holding a Christmas card with JOY on the cover.

How to choose holiday cards  

Here are a few things to think (and make notes) about once you have your Christmas card list and are moving on to the shopping portion of the preparation. Hint—this is where a spreadsheet or notes in your contacts come in real handy:

  • What to say: As you look through your list, think about whether “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” is a more appropriate message. (Or maybe you want to send messages for Hannukah, Kwanzaa or New Year’s.)
  • How close you are: Do you need different cards for family and personal friends vs. business contacts?
  • What’s it about: Who will receive a personal card (like one specifically created for a hairstylist or family member) and who will get a boxed card? If you want to say something personal and specific, shop the card rack. If you want to express holiday wishes your way, find the boxes.
  • Get a count: Tally cards you’ll hand deliver, give with a gift and send through the mail. And count the numbers of newsletters and photos you’ll need.
  • Care for the planet: If you’re pretty sure folks will recycle cards instead of keeping or displaying them, just avoid sending designs with glitter or plastic attachments. For those folks, the meaning is in the moment more than the object itself.

How to create a Christmas-card-writing vibe  

Your kind of fun may depend on whether you want to turn card-sending into a party or chill time. And who says you can’t do both? Not us.

Gather your family. Invite your friends. Or cozy up and turn on some Christmas music. Here’s a list of things to round up before you start.

CHRISTMAS-CARD-WRITING SUPPLIES

Overhead photo of a table covered in cards, envelopes, craft supplies and snacks; hands shown signing and decorating envelopes and cards.

Make it social: Throw a Christmas card party  

Having company might help keep you motivated and make the process feel more festive. Celebration is part of what the season’s about, right? Get together in person or virtually, set out some snacks (in-person company or not, treat yourself) and leave plenty of room for supplies.

Version 1: Family card assembly line

Want to get your whole family involved in sending your cards? Give everyone, big and little, a job or two to do. Make an assembly line with everything needed at each station. Here’s how to divide them up:

Easiest to do:

  • Doodle and draw
  • Add stickers

 

Might take a teeny bit of practice:

  • Sign your name
  • Fold the letter
  • Stuff the envelope
  • Place the stamp
  • Add a gold seal

 

Writing required:

  • Write the note
  • Address the envelope

 

Version 2: Christmas card crafternoon

Meaningful note-writing and card-signing can call for contemplation and focus, and a party doesn’t always need that kind of reflective vibe. Consider inviting your crafty friends and making your party all about decorating envelopes.

 

Everyone’s focus will be on their cards, so don’t worry about major decorating—or even being tidy. Just light the pine-scented candles, crank up the Christmas music and break out the seasonal bevvies.

Treats on platters and Christmas cards on a table

Make it relaxing: Send Christmas cards to unwind  

Christmastime is about coziness, too. Forget the party and make sending cards a blissfully all-for-you nonevent.

Gather your snacks and supplies.

Pick your coziest spot and keep your stationery, pens, decorations and stamps close by. This way once you sit down and settle in, you don’t have to get back up for your stickers and a cookie.

Take your list a little at a time.

Focus on one card at a time or one task (like writing inside notes or addresses) at a time. Do whatever is going to help you de-stress the most in the moment.

Include the rituals you love.

Make some tea, light a candle, drink some wine, get a hair mask going…this is your time.

Go easy on yourself.

Don’t beat yourself up for “running behind” or treat sending cards like an overdue homework assignment. You are not Santa, and if everything’s not done by December 24th, Christmas will not be ruined.

A word about writing thank-you notes  

How many people grew up with the “You can’t play with the gift until you write the thank-you note” rule? Maybe that’s how thank-you notes got a bad rap as the vegetables you had to finish before you got dessert. And that’s why we’re going to go on a little tangent about the second kind of Christmas card: The Thank-You Note.

Thank-you notes for Christmas presents, especially, can feel so good to write. Someone who cares about you did something thoughtful and kind: sent you a gift, invited you to a party, dropped off some cookies. Now you have a perfect excuse to send them a thoughtful, grateful message.

So how about this:

Let yourself enjoy the gift for a bit before you write the note. What’s more meaningful to you: “Thank you for the wonderful Christmas chocolates! Can’t wait to eat them!” or, “Thank you so much for the delicious Christmas chocolates! We ate them ALL while we watched the Hallmark Channel, and they doubled our rom-com serotonin. DOUBLED IT.” (Hint: You’re supposed to like the second one better.)

Focus on how much the person means to you. Even if the gift wasn’t straight from your wish list, the giver matters. That’s why you’re writing them a thank-you—and at the very least, you can thank them for being them.

If you need it, we can help. We have a whole team of professionally thoughtful thank-you-note writers with tips.

All our Christmas card tip links  

We can guarantee there’s a link in this list that will help you have fun sending meaningful Christmas cards this year—no matter which approach(es) you’re taking.

 

Messages and more to put in Christmas cards

 

Everything that goes on envelopes

 

Christmas card tips from Hallmark’s photo studio

 

Keeping and displaying your holiday cards

 

More Christmas card tips you might like