Holiday Card Checklist

Want to navigate the season’s mailing frenzy with less stress? Follow these tips to make sure your holiday cards are bought, stamped, and shipped on time.

Winter Vista Card by Peagreen
Photo: Peagreen from the Moma Store

Six Weeks Before

  • Update your address list: Go through your address book and update any information that's changed since last year. Fill in any missing information and make sure zip codes are accurate (omitting a zip code is better than including the wrong one). Find ZIP codes or ZIP +4's at
  • Write a list of the people to whom you will be sending cards: Send them ideas for what kind you'd like to send (photo cards, e-cards, good old-fashioned paper), where you will purchase them, and the estimated amount each card will cost.
  • Shop for cards: Some stores put holiday goods out by Halloween. You'll get the best selection if you start early. And if you're ordering cards online, you'll want to have plenty of time for them to arrive. You can skip a mailing step later by ordering from a site like, which gives you the option of ordering coordinating return-address labels.
  • Go digital: If you're opting for e-cards, many sites allow you to schedule mailings in advance so the card arrives on the exact day of your choosing, even though you designed it ahead of time.
  • Consider sending holiday postcards instead: If you choose the standard 4¼-by-6-inch size, you'll save money by buying cheaper postcard stamps instead of first-class mail postage.
  • Buy stamps: Beat the last-minute rush by stocking up on plenty of stamps. If you don't have time to hit the grocery store or post office or want a bigger selection of designs, try buying your stamps online.

One Month Before

  • Start writing and addressing holiday cards: Use the address list you updated earlier. It can take a while, depending on how long your list is. Need creative inspiration? We've got you covered. Post-office computers scan addresses, so print neatly with no punctuation. If the scanner can't read an envelope, delivery may be held up by one to two days.

Three Weeks Before

  • Mail cards: Allow at least four days for all domestic cards, no matter how close the destination. Send international mail by December 9. If you're trying to save money, don't use shipping stores, such as Mail Boxes Etc. Even when they don't pack for you, they may charge up to twice the standard carriers' rates.

Christmas Week

  • If you forgot someone when you mailed out your paper cards earlier in the month, go online and send a card instantly: Try, which sells e-cards that look like expensive stationery.

After Christmas

  • Consider paring down your card-sending responsibilities for next year: If you're overwhelmed by the amount of holiday mail you're sending, you have several options. Pick a different holiday to send cards, send them every other year (or divide your list in two and send to half one year, the other half the next), or send only to out-of-towners.
  • Start shopping for next year: The week after the holidays, buy discounted cards to restock your stash and skip some of next year's steps (and spend half as much).
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