WembleyWonderful Tips #34: Christmas Card Etiquette in the UK

After going out in central London on Saturday night and seeing all the lights up, I definitely feel in a Christmas mood – not enough to get presents sorted right now though! But enough to start getting excited about my upcoming Christmas cards. I do them every year and love the experience, despite the time it takes me! Christmas cards are a must in the UK and their untold rules are not the same than in France.

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 with your family in France of course) and every year the Post Office tells you the limit for your cards to arrive before Christmas. This year it is 21st 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 them . 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 here 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 New Year wishes 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 when they are four year old!). 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 initially used Photobox, ordered the printed cards, wrote an individual letter to each person and their addresses by hand,

glued the stamps and posted the lot. This took forever!!! Then I discovered Touchnote and it changed my life. But if family pictures are not your thing, you can buy Christmas cards anywhere, they are already available in all supermarkets – I love the tiny square ones, which I buy for the children to use.