• Margaret Page

Christmas Card Etiquette For Family, Friends and Business Associates

Christmas cards are big business. Nearly 2 billion holiday cards will be purchased, addressed and mailed this Christmas season alone. From family, friends, and neighbors to work associates, clients and customers, virtually everyone is caught in the holiday card frenzy whether they celebrate the season or not.

Christmas cards for family and friends

For Friends and Family:

Even if you are using pre-printed holiday cards for both personal and business use, it’s important to always sign your name below the printed version and write a small handwritten note inside to make the recipient feel as if you truly thought of them this holiday season. When signing for the entire family, always begin with the father’s name, followed by the mother’s and finally he children, or simply write “John, Mary and Family.”


When sending a card to a couple or family with two different last names, always address the card to both people: John Smith and Mary Jones, or the entire family as in Mary Jones, John Smith and Family. And, always include the children’s name inside every family card.

For Business Associates:

Always mail cards to business associates to the office unless you have met their spouse and met with them socially at some point during the year. Then the cards may be addressed to both and sent to their home. When sending a card to a married woman who uses her maiden name at work, always address the card to Mr. and Mrs. (using her married name), if she uses her husband’s name personally. If, however, she only uses her maiden name, it is acceptable to address the card to both using both recipients full names.


Business cards should always be written in a more formal and secular style. Never sign your spouse’s name unless the recipient has met them in a social gathering. And never, under any circumstances send your personal family newsletter to business associates.

Finally, even if you are sending out hundreds of holiday cards to a variety of business associates, never use bulk mail. Always send them first class.


Special Circumstances:

Every time you send out a holiday greeting, you mean well. Unfortunately, sometimes your good intentions may be misunderstood. To avoid any etiquette slips remember these important tips:

-When sending a card to someone with a different ethnic or religious background, choose a more secular card that is free of religious undertones. For those who don’t celebrate the holidays at all, opt for a winter scene card with a basic Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays or message of Peace.

-In the event your recipient’s are grieving the loss of a loved one this year, take special care to find a card that specifically deals with holiday grief. They’ll appreciate your extra thoughtfulness and assure them that their loved one has not been forgotten this holiday season. Also, when sending a card to a recent widow, always address her as “Mrs. So and so to make her feel less alone.


The 8 Rules of Business Greeting Card Etiquette

Buy Quality Cards: Start with a good quality business greeting card to show that you value your clients and colleagues. Skimping on your selection can be interpreted in a number of ways. Your recipients might take it as a sign that business has not been good or that they aren’t worth a little investment.

Update Your List: Make sure your list is up-to-date with correct names and addresses. If you do this on a regular basis, it does not become a dreaded holiday chore. As you gain new contacts throughout the year, take time to add them to your database for your business greeting card group. This way you won’t embarrass yourself by sending the card to the old address.

Sign Cards Personally: Even if you have pre-printed information on the business greeting card such as your name, you need to add your handwritten signature. The most elegant business greeting cards should have your personal signature and a short handwritten message.

Handwrite the Address: If you are ready to throw up your hands at this point and forget the whole project, then have someone else address the envelopes for you. Don’t use computer-generated labels. They are impersonal and make your holiday wishes look like a mass mailing. You may save time and even money, but can lose a client in the process.

Mail to Home Address: Mail your business greeting card to the home if you know the small business owner. Be sure to include the spouse’s name. The card is not sent to both husband and wife at the business address unless they both work there.

Use Titles: Whether you are addressing the envelope to an individual or a couple, titles should always be used. It’s “Mr. John Doe,” not “John Doe,” or “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe, rather that “John and Mary Doe.”

Be Sensitive to Traditions: Find out whether your business greeting card recipients observe Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa. Make sure your message is appropriate for each individual. If you decide to go with one card, choose a generic one that will not offend. “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” are safe bets.

Avoid the Mail Rush: Mail your business greeting cards in time to arrive for the designated holiday. If you find yourself addressing the envelopes on Super Bowl Sunday, keep the cards until next year and send out a high-quality note thanking people for their business during the previous year instead. To avoid the last minute greeting rush is to have all your envelopes addressed before Thanksgiving. Then during December you can leisurely write a short message – one or two lines are all that is necessary on each card, sign your name and have them in the mail with a minimum of hassle.

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