At this time of the year, you will observe a dichotomy between your English and your French friends: while the former are frantically trying to get done and over with their Christmas cards, the later couldn’t be more relaxed about their New Year wishes.
This is because Christmas Card etiquette is massively different in the two countries. If you’re unaware, here are the English untold rules for Christmas cards (I already published a similar article on this many moons ago, so apologies to my long-term readers):
- First, their timing is completely different. In the UK, people send cards to wish each other a Happy Christmas, not a Happy New Year – so they do need to arrive before Christmas . Obviously, this requires much earlier organisation than in France, where the untold time limit is January 31st. You can start sending your cards from 1st December onward without looking like an overly organised freak (except to your French acquaintances of course) and every year the Post Office tells you the limit for your cards to arrive before Christmas. This year it is 20th December for cards sent to the UK and 18th December for those sent to France. Arrgghhh, better start now then!
- The second difference is about how you display the cards you receive . In France, people don’t really bother, probably because the cards are not such a big tradition and because they arrive so late after Christmas. But in the UK they are fully part of the festive decorations . Very often people will hang a ribbon between two walls in their entrance and put the cards up this way; or display them on their chimney. But your English friends will be very surprised if you keep your cards on display after the first Sunday of January, which is the untold deadline to put Christmas decorations down. We usually keep our cards on display forever, I just explain to whoever is surprised that French people are late card senders!
- The third difference is who you should send your cards to . In France, cards are a rather confidential business and people tend to send cards to family and close friends only. Here the Christmas cards sending circle is much more extensive – when my children where in English school they would receive about twenty cards each from their school friends!!! (delegating the answers to whoever received the card is the right strategy here, even if they can barely write). Christmas cards are seen as a nice way to catch-up with people you haven’t seen for ages; and also a way to show you appreciate people, should it be newly-met friends, your children’s teacher or your doctor.
- So where to get your cards from ? Since the children were born, we’ve been doing a Christmas picture of them. People love seeing them grow up (and obviously, Mr WembleyWonderful and I are not in the picture, so that no one can see how we age…). I consistently use Photobox for the reliable quality of their prints – this involves taking a picture as soon as the Christmas tree is up, ordering the cards, writing an individual letter to each person and their addresses by hand, gluing the stamps and posting the lot. It takes forever but for an obscure reason I really like doing it!!! I also tried Touchnote in the past but the print quality is quite disappointing and it has increased massively in price. If family pictures are not your thing, you can buy Christmas cards anywhere , they are readily available in all supermarkets – I love the tiny square ones, which I buy for the children to use.
So – have you written your Christmas cards yet? No pressure, mouhahahah!!!