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The 8 Rules of Holiday Greeting Card Etiquette

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Around 1.5 billion holiday cards will be purchased, addressed, and mailed during the next few weeks. Mail volume has increased last year because of COVID-19, and we expect to see the same this year.

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. A holiday card may be appreciated as we enter our second year of the holidays during a pandemic. Like any type of correspondence, there are a few etiquette rules that apply when sending out seasonal greetings.

Here are a few tips from the experts:

Buy Quality Cards: Start with a good quality business greeting card to show that you value your clients and colleagues. Skimping on your selection might be send a message that business has not been good or that the recipients aren't worth the 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 won’t become one of those dreaded holiday chores. As you gain new contacts throughout the year, take time to add them to your database. This way you won't embarrass yourself by sending the card to the old address.

Sign Cards Personally: Even if you have preprinted information on a holiday card or a business greeting card, such as your company name, it is wise to add your handwritten signature. The most elegant business greeting cards 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. That’s a big “no-no.” 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: If you have a clients’ home address, mail your business greeting card there—and include the spouse’s name.

Note: 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. J. Doe," not "John Doe," or "Mr. and Mrs. J. Doe, rather than "John and Mary Doe."

When sending a card to a couple or a 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.

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 Rush: Mail your business greeting cards in time to arrive for the holidays. Even better--to stand out from the slew of cards that are sure to arrive on their doorstep--send your clients a simple “Happy New Year” card to arrive the first week of January!

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