How to safely send and open Christmas cards

The deadline for posting items is looming, which means it’s time to get all your Christmas cards out.

With the pandemic still going on, it’s also time to start being extra considerate about things we touch – including post.

Coronavirus can spread through surfaces, so regardless of how careful you’re being in terms of in-person interaction, don’t forget to keep that energy for sending and opening items.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has advised that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages. However, it’s always better to stay as safe as possible, which you can by following these steps.

Dr Perpetua Emeagi, a lecturer in Human Biology and Biological Sciences at Liverpool Hope University, says handling letters and parcels is an ‘open invitation’ for the virus to spread. 

Her technique when receiving letters and cards is: ‘open it, read it, and bin it’, which she says should stop Covid-19 infiltrating you through the letterbox. 

This isn’t totally Christmas card friendly, but should mean that any post that has come into contact with coronavirus won’t have a chance to infect anyone.

Outlining her suggested hygiene strategy, Dr Emeagi says: ‘As soon as you pick up your post, open it, read it, file it, perhaps take a photo of the important information on your mobile phone, and then safely dispose of it. 

‘Do not leave it lying around and take extra care not to allow it to come into contact with other surfaces. And make sure you bin the envelope as well as what’s inside it. 

‘You then need to immediately wash your hands, for the recommended 20 seconds, and follow all the usual precautions including cleaning your phone with ethanol-based wipes.’

If you take a picture of each card you get, you can send it to your loved one to say thank you (as well as storing the memory digitally) without worrying about Covid.

If you’d rather keep your cards, open them with a letter opener so you don’t touch the sealed part – just in case someone has licked it. Make sure you wash your hands before and after touching, then spray your card with a dry antibacterial such as this one from Nilco.

Alternatively, put your cards into a sealed plastic bag, wait a few days, then you can take them out knowing there aren’t any harmful bacteria still lurking around.

When writing and sending your cards, keep a damp sponge on hand to seal your envelopes rather than licking them. Wash your hands before and after getting ready to send.

As you would anyway, practice social distancing on your way to the postbox, and be assured that staff at Royal Mail are staying safe and clean when getting your mail from A to B.

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