Published: 12:11, 02 November 2021
| Updated: 12:13, 02 November 2021
Royal Mail is asking households to post their Christmas cards and packages early - as it unveils its 2021 stamps for the festive season.
Six stamps, exclusively illustrated by international artist Jorge Cocco, depict the Nativity and will appear on Christmas cards and correspondence over the next two months.
The stamps, illustrating the Christmas story with post-cubist art, are on sale from today.
But households sending Christmas cards, letters and parcels to friends and family living further away - or shopping online for presents - are being encouraged to do so early.
Royal Mail says its staff and post offices across the country are preparing for bumper festive mail bags this Christmas, particularly following last year's disrupted festive season because of coronavirus.
And in order to be able to deliver everyone's festive mail in plenty of time Royal Mail is encouraging households to not leave posting correspondence or gifts until the last moments, alongside doing any online Christmas shopping well in advance to ensure deliveries from retailers can be made ahead of the big day.
The UK's latest recommended Christmas posting dates for 2021 are Saturday, December 18 for 2nd Class and 2nd Class Signed For and Tuesday, December 21 for 1st Class and 1st Class Signed For.
Those wishing to use the Special Delivery Guaranteed service have a deadline of Thursday, December 23, which is particularly useful for any last minute postal emergencies.
David Gold, Director of External Affairs and Policy at Royal Mail, said: “For many, the launch of our annual Christmas stamps marks the start of their festive planning.
"We hope that people will appreciate these beautiful illustrations of the Christmas Story, and that they will be encouraged to post their cards and parcels early this year.”
This year a limited number of the Christmas stamps will also feature new barcodes on the sides of the designs.
The addition, says Royal Mail, will ensure that each barcoded stamp can be uniquely identified, which is paving the way for innovative customer services in the future.
The new Christmas stamp designs are available to purchase online here or you can buy them from more than 7,000 Post Offices across the UK.