Tag Archives: italian post

How to send holiday cards from Italy

29 Nov

36674_whimsical_rustic_holiday_christmas_greeting_cardsYou would think there would be no need for a post about how to send holiday cards from Italy, but in the nearly 20 years I’ve been here, Poste Italiane still hasn’t made any significant strides in terms of efficiency. This summer, the parents of one of my daughter’s friends asked me if a postcard their daughter sent in July had arrived at our house. I told them no in August, and thought perhaps they had gotten the address wrong. Lo and behold, however, in October came the greeting from an Italian vacation locale: “Can’t wait to see you again in September!” And so it goes, with the Italian post.

That being the case, if you’re living in Italy and wondering about the various options for sending holiday greetings, I’ve tried a variety of different methods over the years with mixed results. Here are my thoughts on your options for sending yuletide joy across the miles this year.

Snail mail

Poste Italiane


Your old-school option is the snail-mail route with the Italian system. It is, as previously stated here, here, here, here, and here, comically unreliable and monumentally incomprehensible. If you go this route, know that cards and letters sent internationally to the US cost 2 euros at last check. But just don’t ask for stamps.

Poste Vaticane


If you’re in Rome you have another snail-mail option, that of the Vatican mail service. I used it eons ago to send my wedding invitations. It’s generally seen as more reliable. I can attest to the fact that the invites all arrived safe and sound. And with stamps, to boot.

Real cards sent for you within US

Postable and Card Gnome



With the advent of more recent technologies since I first came to Italy in 2001, I’ve often opted for this route – companies that let you fill out your card online and then they mail the actual physical card for you from within the US. This way I avoid the hassle and risk of the crappy Italian postal system, but my recipients still get an actual card they can display on their mantel. I think it’s the best of both worlds. I like the designs on Postable (starts at $3.99 per card, plus 50 cents postage in US) better than Card Gnome (starts at $4.99 per card, postage included), but I’ve used both and both have been reliable. On Postable you can even upload your own photos and have them printed on the card – a definite plus.

Paperless Post


Paperless Post is your go-to option for all-digital. They have a range of cool designs and many from well-known designers like kate spade new york, Rifle Paper Co., and Sugar Paper. What I like best about Paperless Post, however, is that they try to make the digital experience feel more like the real thing. For example, when your recipient opens their online card, the card actually contains a digital envelope, a digital stamp, and a sleek animation that opens the envelope and reveals the card. It’s light years ahead of those early e-card services that were full of gaudy flashing images, cheesy music, and rudimentary design.

Another plus of all-digital is that it’s instantaneous, so if you’re running late getting to the holiday card thing, you can still be on time even at the last minute. And, let’s be honest: the ease of importing your email contacts and mass mailing for the holidays is cheaper and quicker than the snail-mail route or the online+physical card route. Pricing for the digital cards works with Paperless Post’s coin system. You buy coins and then spend them on your cards, digital stamps, envelopes, linings, etc. Pricing starts at 10 coins for $5.00, but some cards are free. And you can upload photos for your design.

So, there you have it – a range of options for your holiday mailings from abroad. This year I am going to do a combination of all of them, most likely. Happy Holidays and happy mailing!