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Are we falling out of love with Christmas cards?

If you want your cards to arrive in time for Christmas, tomorrow is the last day for second-class post. While it’s a festive tradition, do you think sending cards has become a bit too expensive?

I read that Christmas cards are a tradition dating back 171 years. The reason for their popularity is obvious – they give us a reason to connect with old friends and family and spread the Christmas cheer.

But with the cost of stamps on the rise, I’m worried this tradition could soon be written into the history books.

Too little, too much

The price of stamps increased again this year. A Royal Mail first class stamp went up 2p to 62p and a second-class stamp rose by 3p to 53p.

While those numbers may sound small, it all adds up in the end. For example, if you wanted to send 50 Christmas cards second-class, it would cost over £25 in postage alone. It’s no wonder people have started to think twice before engaging with this festive tradition. Last year, Pat told us:

‘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.’

And Lee Belcher said:

‘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.’

Let’s take this online

A way around the cost of stamps is to send e-cards. E-cards are digital cards sent over the internet and seem to be a growing trend. And I can see why – they’re quick and convenient.

There’s no need to leave your desk or spend hours queuing in the post office, plus you can customise the card depending on who you’re sending to, unlike cards in the shops. Still, for the sake of a few pounds, is it really worth losing that personal touch?

Last year, Lee Belcher was very much against the idea:

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

I tend to agree with Lee, I’ve never sent an e-card and feel hand written post is much more meaningful, especially at Christmas.

So if e-cards aren’t for you, how do save on your annual Christmas message to friends and family? Elizabeth said that she’s turned to hand posting:

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

Maybe you’ll just bite the bullet and pay for postage, or are you more than merrier to see the tradition fade away? My plan: hand-written cards are too important to lose – I just picked more wisely this year.

How are you sending your Christmas cards this year?

By post (38%, 87 Votes)

I mix and match (33%, 76 Votes)

I'm taking the year off (15%, 34 Votes)

By hand (9%, 21 Votes)

E-cards (6%, 14 Votes)

Total Voters: 232

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Comments
Member

I remember when you could post cards for 2d (2 old pence). the equivalent now is 126 old pence – a 63 times increase. We post only those cards that can’t be given by hand – but it is still a nice way of sending a greeting and, with birthday cards, it need only happen twice a year. Apparently we each spend on average £360 on gifts at Christmas so postage is still a minor item.

Member

Unfortunately the poll does not allow for those of us who use ecards, cards by mail , and some we hand deliver. Therefore the poll is inherently misleafding: can it be amended to show all methods?

I used wo work in an office where traditionally! the girls all gave each other cards so between them approximately 2500 cards. Keeping up with old friends or simply social pressures?

To make it special why not contatc old friends out of season instead : )

Member

Good spot, dieseltaylor. I’ve amended the poll to include an option for using more than one method to send your cards 🙂

Member

I have spent more on 2nd Class Stamps this year than on the actual cards which I purchased from a local cancer charity shop. Happy Christmas Royal Mail!!!

Member

I still send cards but now that the postage has risen I try to remember to take cards to give by hand if I know I’m going to see people in the run up to Christmas.

I never was keen on exchanging cards with colleagues I saw every day at work and thankfully I broke the cycle when I retired three years ago. I still go back to work occasionally to meet people and have lunch with them, which is more rewarding than exchanging cards.

It’s still very nice to receive an unexpected card and gift.

Member

I used 2nd class stamps on all my UK cards but had to pay 97p for all my EU stamps and £1.20 for a couple of US stamps. This and a few small parcels added up to a very tidy sum. I deliver my neighbours cards and the cards to close family and friends. The sub post office I used had run out of EU stamps and I had to accept four stamps to make up the total. Despite this cost, I plan to do the same next Christmas.

My sister suggested we stop sending cards after this Christmas and I was vehement that this almost last part of our childhood tradition should continue. I loved watching my mother opening cards from friends and relatives from far afield and her explaining who they were and how they were connected to our family. They also updated her on the news of their family since the previous year and she did likewise. We also chose our favourite card. Mine was usually a snow scene with a robin or a London scene. Rather than give up sending Christmas cards I would cut down on the festive food and drink – much better for my health.

Member

I haven’t sent cards for donkey’s years. Christmas is just too commercial for my liking.

Member

I have unwittingly found a way of spending even more than on Christmas card postage. In the first place you have to choose a nice big card with elaborate decoration and if possible something on it that bulges out on the front. Then put a first class stamp on the envelope on and post it to your loved one. Several days later a card will arrive that says insufficient postage was put on the envelope and that unless the difference plus a £1 handling charge are paid the Royal Mail will not deliver the card. This is because all the really beautiful cards, especially those designated for kith & kin, are oversized and classified as ‘large letter’ and should have stamps to the value of 73p [2nd Class] or 93p [1st Class] on them. Once this tribute has been remitted to the Royal Mail the offending item will be released from bond and despatched for delivery a few days later. I wonder who manages to get this wrong every birthday, anniversary, Christmas time, and any other significant event? Step forward . . . yours truly. You’d have thought I’d have learned by now that the Royal Mail employ a small army of largeness adjudicators who sit at the back of the sorting offices with measuring sticks, weighing scales, and ingenious slot devices for determining thickness [mine must be measurable from a fair distance]. In the event that a postage insufficiency is suspected the crafty helpers will turn the envelope over and scrutinise the stamps affixed thereto and apply a yellow postage due label. Apparently this brings in millions of pounds a year and keeps our universal postal service afloat.

Member

Until the current system was introduced, all we needed to send a letter – or card – was to weigh it if there was a chance that it might exceed 60g. Now we have to pay attention to its length, width and thickness, together with weight if it might exceed 100g.

If anyone is looking for an unusual and useful gift, vernier callipers might fit the bill. If you would like to be more generous, postage scales and a ruler could be included.

Member

I bought hundreds of 2nd class stamps in April 2012, just before a 39% price hike. As I hardly ever post anything, I’m not bothered by the current price. I find that the postal system is unreliable and prone to delays, usually days or weeks. In the latest extreme example, it took the Royal Mail 30 years to deliver an item; see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-30513690

As for Christmas e-cards, receiving one is even more annoying than the physical cards that say “season’s greetings” and “happy holidays”, particularly as it means your e-mail address has been added to a commercial database in the process.

Member

I saw that lovely story about the delayed postcard. It’s obviously important to use the postcode to expedite prompt delivery. 🙂

I’m a very satisfied user of Royal Mail.

Member

Don’t be conned by the post code. my parents had a Christmas card delivered to a house 5 miles away, even through it had the correct post code on it. Royal Fail have yet to explain why. And this isn’t the 1st and it won’t be the last time either. Regardless of Royal Fail saying the last time would be the last time. And the time before that …

Member

william,quantum physics says, I believe, something can be in two places at once. Maybe the Royal mail is more advanced than we think. Or perhaps they are practising for the end of the Universal Post Obligation, and had reached the limit of their standard delivery distance?
We will rarely know when unsolicited post has not been delivered – but my experience has only been good. Our postie always knocks and waits if she has to deliver a parcel or signed-for knowing we are not early risers. Although it is her job she’ll deserve a Christmas gift.

Member

Quantum physics also says photons can go through walls – then we could do away with our letter boxes 😉

Member

And the ones I saw were very big ones! Incidentally, it’s called email.

Member

……..and if a particle travels every possible route in the universe to get to their final destination this may explain what is happening to my Royal Mail delivery that hasn’t happened yet!

Member

I carry a card in my purse with the measurements for first and second class post and with the slimline tape measure that is always with me – you never know when you need to measure something – I normally avoid getting caught out. It means I can no longer send birthday cards with age badges, though unless I queue in the post office to have it measured.

Member

Its nice that your post office gives that personal service.

Member

Anybody can have a letter or parcel weighed and measured so they use the correct postage, If they didn’t the addressee would have to pay the excess postage plus a £1 administration fee before the post is delivered or released to them. It would be very embarrassing if a relative or friend had to pay to receive their birthday card.

Merry Christmas

Member

Embarrassed of Norfolk writes : I frequently experience this feeling [see my previous post above] but it has just been pointed out to me that the greetings cards industry has arranged for a small pictogram of an envelope to be printed on the back of oversized cards indicating a ‘Large Letter’. I had not noticed this before – I tend not to examine the back of cards before posting them but I shall endeavour to do so in future in order to save embarrassment.

Member

At 9.15 yesterday morning I checked my letterbox and found a ‘sorry we missed you’ card from Royal Mail dated 17.12.14 Time 9.00. I am told I have to travel the 4 miles to their local office to collect whatever needed to be signed for (the card didn’t specify whether it was a letter or parcel.). As I was in fact very much at home at the time of delivery I have emailed an official complaint to Royal Mail and received an automatic reply to the effect they are inundated with complaints at the moment but hope to respond within 3 workin days.

I am a very unsatisfied user of Royal Mail at the moment!

Member

Oh that’s no good, Beryl! But is it enough to push you over to e-cards? I hope not!

Member

It would not be Christmas without Christmas cards After all, people have made a special effort to go out to choose and buy them, write them and post them. e-cards are a pleasant add on but not a substitute I don’t think so I will continue to stick with tradition and buy them.

Royal Mail should introduce a special 3rd class rate to be used specifically for the season and have an expiry date to prevent parsimonious people buying up limited stocks.

Member

I wish that cards and envelopes were of standard sizes. I bought all my cards from one charity this year and did not realise that the cards and envelopes are slightly different in size for some designs.

I wrote the cards, addressed the envelopes and then found that some of the cards were about 2mm too wide to fit in the envelopes. 🙁

Member

The cards keep coming despite the rise in postage rates, but there has been a marked decline in e-cards this year. Just one. I invested in stamps before the last price rise and with luck I will have enough for Christmas 2017.

I recently saw a stamp machine in a motorway service area advertising a “50p Book of Stamps”. Sadly it was no longer in use.