/ Money

Is it too expensive to send Christmas cards?

Christmas stamp from the 1970s

With December fast approaching, it should be time to start writing your Christmas card list. But does the price of stamps encourage you to keep your list short and sweet this year?

At the start of year we asked Which? members if they sent fewer cards in 2012 than they had the previous year and more than half said yes. And a whopping 63% said the reason for sending fewer was that stamps are too expensive.

I was surprised to learn that Royal Mail increased the cost of a first class stamp by 14 pence between December 2011 and December 2012. So if you sent Christmas cards to 50 people it would cost £7 more now than it would have done in 2011.

First class post too expensive?

Stamp prices were frozen in December 2012, but with a 60p postage cost for every card you send first class, have you stopped sending so many?

Which? members told us they’d found a few work arounds to reduce the cost of postage – the most popular being posting early and sending cards second class. With a saving of 10p per card, I know I’d opt for second class too.

Christmas emails and texts

The second most popular option is to deliver cards by hand and the third, sending an e-card. Both are still personal and, in the case of e-cards, usually free. Perhaps you like to avoid all of the above and let your friends and family know that you won’t be sending cards but instead, issuing a small donation to charity.

Is it sad that we’re sending fewer Christmas cards, or is it just inevitable as we communicate more online? Do you send fewer than you used to?

Do you send physical Christmas cards?

Yes (89%, 1,297 Votes)

No (11%, 166 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,463

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This may shock a few of my friends on Which? conversation. But I do waste money on Christmas cards 😮

I send 2 each Christmas. I use Moonpig to send a card to my mum and another one to my sister who both live back home in Australia. It comes to just under £6 normally for these two cards and while yes, it is a waste of money as they will be going in the bin the following month I do like to send them.

Wow! How generous of you to actually send two Cards!

It was a light hearted comment as my friends on Which would understand.

But if you want me not to joke then here we are:

I only have my mum and my sister in my life so i only need to send them two a card each.

As long as you aren’t spending money on sending a card to your dog, I’d say that’s a good use of your money at Xmas 🙂

While I will be spending a little bit of money on gifts for her this xmas. No, i wont be sending her a card lol

(I will be spending around £15 on a few new toys for her that will last ages)

Maybe I’m missing something, but what is the relevance of the price of a first class stamp to the sending of Christmas cards?

Like many other people, I bought hundreds of second class stamps for 36p each in April 2012 which remain valid indefinitely. It was extremely well publicised that the price rise would be taking place and that the imminent 39% price rise of a second class stamp could be avoided. Why pay 60p instead of 36p to send a Christmas card?

Well, it was still rather expensive to buy hundreds of stamps at 36p–but of course, even if you could afford that they will run out one of these days. I do agree that to pay for first class postage for Christmas cards is not very intelligent.

I’m not rich enough to have bought hundreds of stamps back in 2012. To save money in some circumstances you first need to have money. I do however never use a 1st class stamp anymore on cards or letters, all go 2nd class. I can’t find a way to save on stamps to the EU or USA so I just make sure that I buy smaller cards and the cards need to be quite lightweight. I do not wish any recipient to have to pay excess postage costs.

I think our Post Office is shameful for doing away with a cheaper price stamps for Christmas cards–why can’t they go back to a cheaper postage for cards which are left open and contain only five or six words? It is such a shame that people have to really count the cost of good will and our once a year communicate with old friends. It is so important not to forget those. And it is not only the cost of cards within the UK, Most of my friends are overseas and the cost is astronomical. I buy the cheapest smallest cards I can find and, yes, I’m afraid I have had to cut back.

First the banks, now the energy companies, and when, I may ask, the Post Office? Until such a day, I send hand-written cards to family and my closest friends, and to the rest I send e-cards or a text. I also often phone them for a nice long chin-wag, at the same time letting then know that this is my ”card” to them.

E-cards and texts are useless. How can you sit and look at your displayed e-cards and texts with love and warmth?

I have always enjoyed sending and receiving Christmas card complain they didn. I am still furious that Royal Mail was privatised artnd at anytime over the years they kept selling off the bits that made money and then complaining they didn’t make a profit. I don’t agree emails are as personal also the cards make good money for charity. As well there are still a lot of older people not on the net and often living alone and many of them love to receive cards I think the post could easily print Christmas stamps at a reduced price that are only valid for 3 weeks before. It seems to me greed is spoiling so many British traditions pubs dying all over the country etc

Elizabeth says:
18 November 2013

Last year for the first time, I hand delivered local cards because of the cost of postage
And will do so again this year.

I send three, it used to be a lot more.

Over the years I have accumulated a stash of old unused postage stamps of various odd values which are still valid even if they are in halfpenny denominations. I am currently working my way through the 3½p sheets – fourteen of those plus two ½p stamps makes 50p. I use 13 x 4½p + 3 x ½p to get to the first class value. Usually this approach is reserved for obligation letters to utility companies, banks and credit card operations, and the HMRC and public authorities. But for achange this year I am going to do this on the Christmas cards instead of using the special Christmas stamps – my private mail is usually adorned with one of the excellent pictorial commemorative or special issue stamps available from the Royal Mail – I always do this for letters abroad since I think most of our designs are of outstanding quality.

Sticking on a lot of stamps might take a little longer but, so far as I am aware, none of my letters or cards stamped in this way has ever failed to arrive. I am sure the scrutineers in the various sorting offices en route diligently tot up the values to make sure the Royal Mail is not being diddled and their intervention guarantees transmission. The problem with Christmas cards is finding cards with enevelopes that are big enough to take sixteen stamps without falling into the Large Letter category so a bit of creative positioning is necessary. As Lee Belcher says above, one day my hoard will be exhausted and I shall have to fall back on the 1st and 2nd class labels purchased some time ago at much lower prices. At 50-60 cards a year, plus other correspondence, I think I have around five years’ worth of stamps available before I have to buy any more! I used up the last of my pre-decimal stamps in 2007, although I was very selective in deciding who should receive one of those rarities and only the high-value ones got anywhere near the required postage values.

There has been no abnormal reduction in the number of cards we send each year; additions and deletions to the address book seem to balance each other out. Delivering more than one or two Christmas cards by hand is impracticable, and I wouldn’t dream of sending e-cards, so I enjoy writing and posting Christmas cards. I wonder where people who receive e-cards display them; you can’t exactly put them on the mantel-piece or hang them on a ribbon, can you? Perhaps the smart-phone set can carry them around all day and look at them from time to time, and the high-tech gadgeteers can project them on their living room wall. But it’s not quite in the spirit of the festive season in my opinion.

1Abina says:
18 November 2013

I am not sure where I heard this, but my understanding is that if you have more than 2 stamps on an envelope it gets rejected automatically to 2nd class by the sorting machines. Can anyone throw any light on this?

John, your envelopes may be more decorative than the Christmas cards and could become a collectors item. I don’t send or receive ecards but if I received them I would probably set them as my screen saver. There is nothing like the real thing though. I feel sad each year when I take down the Christmas cards.

You should email the Royal Mail and ask them if you can put stamps on the back of the envelope when you run out of space on the front.

It won’t be long before they assume the right to open them too to check we’ve also put enough stamps on the inside…

I too bought £150 worth of stamps before they shot up in price. My card list has shrunk enormously over the last two years simply because of the cost of postage. A lot of my friends have stopped sending cards for the same reason so we’ve agreed to wish each other a Merry Christmas verbally. We’ve long ago agreed not to exchange presents for the same reason and none of us are particularly poor. But it saves on money and the worry of what to get someone who has everything plus the shopping involved. We all complain about Christmas and the moral blackmail it entails, but none of us have the guts to cancel it.

1Abina says:
18 November 2013

Many, many years ago I remember Royal Mail giving us a special stamp rate for Christmas cards am not sure if it had to be local or not but even that would help, lets say if they said 25p within an postcode area of 30 miles? It benefits everyone ultimately, especially those friends that you don’t get to see throughout the year for whatever reason… Come on Royal Mail make the gesture.

I hadn’t thought about Christmas Cards, but if you post early it costs less.

Monica says:
19 November 2013

I get free local and overseas calls from my phone provider, so every Christmas I go through my address book and phone everybody, it is more personal and you can catch up with a lot of subjects, I always have the feel good factor afterwards.

Here’s an opportunity for local business – make your franking machine service available to private users. A 1st class letter is 47p. a second is 33p, saving 13p. You could ask why should this be so much cheaper than buying stamps

A clever idea but I’m not sure if that breaks terms of use. In Liverpool, the Rotary Club and the local Scout organisations organised a charity post. Stamps were 10p or so cheaper than RM and the Scouts (and their parents) would collect, sort and deliver the letters. I still remember entering our Scout hut in December and being faced with mountains of cards and letters and teams of volunteers busily sorting them all. The charity post was scrapped a few years ago but with recent price hikes it could well make a comeback. Although as I’m now a RM shareholder my loyalties in this area are divided!

Scott, it was a little tongue-in-cheek and, rather as expected, it contravenes sec. 6.4 of the Royal Mail Franking Scheme “….not letters or mail of a third party”. It appears the advantages to the Royal Mail are prepayment (but you do that with stamps anyway) and you post your items in bundles of the same class all aligned. Not difficult either to do with stamped mail. It does beg the question as to why it is up to 35% more expensive to send a stamped 2nd class than a franked second class.

Mercia Westall says:
23 November 2013

I agree, our local Scouts also sell there own stamps and have collection boxes in a lot of the shops locally – especially in the post offices and then they deliver the Cards, obviously locally. but what a worthy cause as well.

p. drewery says:
19 November 2013

Sending Christmas cards is far too expensive. You can often pick up a packet of cards for less then the cost of 2 first class stamps. I do send some Christmas messages by e-mail, but I feel this does seem a little impersonal, but the cost of sending 40 to 50 cards, even by second class post, is becoming prohibitive for most of us, especially pensioners

I was going to send you all Christmas Cards but have been put off by the comments. So while it is far too early (I have not even thought about shopping, although we have bought crackers) let me wish you all a very happy Christmas. 🙂

Sorry, failed attempt at a Christmas tree.

Haha, sorry Malcolm, seems the smiley faces aren’t quite that sophisticated. Merry Christmas Malcolm 🙂

I send my cards from South Africa – it is almost 10p cheaper to airmail a card to England from South Africa than to send it by second class post in England – and it’s almost 50p cheaper to send it anywhere else in the World. In any case I send physical cards only to people who do not have access to email, but I send the same cards to people with email – designed to be printed and to stand on a mantelpiece.

This is good idea James Bryant–printing off email cards which have been designed to stand on your mantelpiece. Regarding South Africa–currently they are in the middle of a horrendous postal strike (could be finished by now) which has been ongoing for about three months. Can you imagine the chaos which will result in the backlog???

Colin Samson says:
22 November 2013

Most people don’t realise that 1st Class post is MORE unreliable than 2nd class post! That is, substantially more 1st Class mail gets lost than 2nd Class Mail (pro rata) – You can confirm this as the figures are on the Royal Mail web site.

Mercia Westall says:
22 November 2013

We have a system whereby our local Scouts sell their own stamps and they also deliver all Christmas cards – you have to have them handed in to local shops by a specified date and such a worthwhile cause.

The price of postage stamps is nothing less than an attack on Christmas itself by a privatied commercial company that used to be a public service. Shame on them; humbug.

Jennifer Toal says:
22 November 2013

I send fewer and fewer Christmas cards every year due to the extortionate cost of stamps.
I send e-cards when I can (obviously not appropriate for a grandmother without a computer), hand deliver as many as possible and moan about the daylight robbery regarding those I do post – second class!

Jackie says:
23 November 2013

Let’s face it, Christmas cards are nice and cheerful to hang around, and charities benefit from the sales. A lot are handed out to people we see often. Of the others, divide the cost of the stamp by 12 – is each recipient worth that much a month? Who could not be? But I f not, then cross them off the list.

More easily said than done……

It’s not only the massive price hike in the cost of 1st-class and 2nd-class stamps permitted by the present Government that is outrageous. What abut the cost of greetings cards themselves? For one mass-produced piece of this card measuring say 12″x8″ folded in half plus envelope and sometimes wrapped in cellophane you can pay £1.50 or much more. Isn’t that a rip-off? I do send Christmas cards, but I usually buy charity cards, which often come in packs of eight or 10 and are much cheaper. I also try to buy direct from the charity concerned like a local hospice either in person or via their website in the hope that a larger percentage of the purchase price goes to the charity than happens with charity cards bought from a newsagent. And I only send Christmas cards by 2nd-class post, since there is no point in wasting the extra cost of 1st class.

John, Try making your own if you have an inkjet printer – either on card or photo paper. I do a few like this for close friends and relations – using photos and personalising the picture and the message. Inexpensive and much more appropriate I think than mass produced ones. I also do a family calendar with photos from the last 12 months activities – takes a good few hours to make but helps keep the relations spread around the globe in touch.

Cards are so much cheaper than they used to be ,but, as mentioned in other comments, you an always make your own.