Is it ok to send Christmas cards late?


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You had great intentions.

You took the photo, ordered the cards, maybe even addressed and stamped them. But just couldn’t get them in the mail in time. What do you do now? Is it ok to send Christmas cards after Christmas?

Of course it is! It’s never too late to connect with those you love. Although it is smart to include wording that acknowledges the lateness of the card.

In an ideal world, Christmas cards will be in their recipient’s mailboxes by Christmas Eve at the latest. Southern Living even suggests mailing them the first week of December to be safe. This is a great plan and one I strive for every year. But sometimes life gets in the way.

How late is too late to send Christmas cards?

Or, for that matter, how late is too late to send New Year cards?

In my etiquette classes, I teach the “ASAP but BLTN” Rule when it comes to mailed correspondence. Meaning all cards and letters should be sent as soon as possible but also better late than never. I firmly believe that most of your friends and family would love to hear from you, even if it’s late.

I once received a card from a family friend that had TWO cards in it- one from the current year and one from the year before because they never got around to sending that one. The family included a little note explaining as such and I thought it was brilliant. That’s the key- acknowledging the tardiness with a quick note before you drop the cards in the mail!

What do you write in a late Christmas card?

I think it’s smart to include a message in a belated Christmas card that acknowledges the lateness. You can write something simple like:

  • “Apologies for the delay, but couldn’t let the season pass without sending our warm wishes!”
  • “Sorry we’re behind, but wanted you to know we have been thinking of you this season!”
  • “Whoops! Better late than never, right?!”

If you’ve already written the card or sealed the envelope, adding a quick note to the back flap is a great idea. For an even easier solution, grab this free printable of belated Christmas card message labels to quickly solve the problem. They print perfectly on these clear Avery labels (or these white ones).

Just print them out and stick them on the back flap of your envelope to put a light-hearted twist on the situation.

Late christmas card message labels

Life isn’t perfect and it gets even more messy around the holidays. So even if you’re a week (or month) behind, just mail the card. Correspondence via postal mail is a dying art. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with friends and family just because you’ve missed the “deadline.”



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