Mrs. C says: This is hardly thrillin’ when the winds gets a chillin’ – but at times Christmas can be as much about santa stamps87232126 copyfunction as frills.

Ed Elf: This is function at its finest.

Mrs. C: Do I detect a note of sarcasm in there?

Stamps of Approval

Most people still choose to send cards via the post so having those Christmas stamps ready means your cards can be dispatched as soon as they’re written. If you’re waiting for the decorative Christmas stamps to go on sale, they’ll be available from early November, although if you prefer the designs from previous years they are available to purchase throughout the year from the Royal Mail online shop. It’s also possible to use the Royal Mail’s online postage system, whereby you can print directly onto labels and envelopes of specified sizes – but we suspect many of you rather like to see a festive image instead. We certainly do.

If you follow our Christmas calendar in the months of November and December, your cards and packages will be ready for the off in plenty of time. It’s always good to send cards early so they’re not staring at you in a recriminating way every time you pass them on the worktop – and with parcels you get little choice but to have them dispatched promptly or they might not get there in time for Christmas.

Postbox 63498064 The UK cut-off posting dates for 2017 were:

 2nd class                                                     Tuesday 19th December

 1st class                                                       Wednesday 20th December

 Special Delivery (Guaranteed)              Thursday 21st December

Any cards or parcels for family and friends overseas need a little more planning as they require a trip to the Post Office. Some of the last dates for posting certain mail to countries such as Cyprus are as early as the first week in November. Airmail packages (International Standard Mail) have a last cut off date for guaranteed delivery to Australia in early December. For Canada and the USA it is more likely to be mid-December. Here are more dates and countries you may wish to note from 2017, to give you a heads up for this year: Wednesday December 13: Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland; Thursday December 14: Finland, Sweden; Friday December 15: Austria, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland; Saturday December 16: Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg. Check all the other crucial dates for posting at – including those for sending parcels to the armed forces. There’s a link to that website below.


Sending Parcels Home and Abroad

You’ve heard about watching your P’s & Q’s? Well this is about checking your P’s & P’s.The Royal Mail website has lots of information on sending parcels, together with their price finder wizard which will calculate the cost for sending parcels of specific weights, sizes and values to named countries. Indeed the Royal Mail website has lots of very useful information such as how to find missing postcodes and very detailed advice on how to wrap different types of gifts, which is available Posting and packaging 155061860as a downloadable PDF file. Check out their A-Z of wrapping and packing. The site also gives details of where to buy your packaging materials such as bubble wrap and jiffy bags.

If you are sending parcels abroad, you will need a customs form for each package. For what the post office refer to as “small packets” you will need a small, white CN22 label. You can obtain a roll of them free from any post office. It’s also worth picking up some blue air mail stickers while you’re at it, as you’ll need to put one or two on each parcel as well.

The CN22 is suitable for packages up to a certain value. Tick the box that says Gift, write a brief description of the contents (nothing detailed required) and then sign and date it. Leave the weight to be filled in at the post office.

There is a different, more detailed customs form for much larger, heavier and expensive items. This is a CN23. Basically, there are more lines to fill in on a CN23 to itemise the contents of the parcel. If you are unsure, it’s perhaps best to fill in both forms at home. Trying to amend this kind of thing in the post office, when you’re invariably shoved to one side until you’ve filled everything out accurately, is likely to raise the blood pressure somewhat.


Did you know…it was not until Christmas 1966 that seasonal stamps were issued in Britain? The Post Office issued commemorative stamps for special events and occasions as early as 1924, but specific Christmas stamps were only available from December 1, 1966. Both designs, a snowman and Good King Wenceslas, were designed by six-year-old viewers of BBC television children’s programme ‘Blue Peter’.