Christmas Card Etiquette – Tips From the Experts

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.

But, like any type of correspondence, there are a few etiquette rules that apply when sending out those winter greetings. Here are a few tips from the experts:

For Friends and FamilyChristmas

Even if you are using preprinted 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 the 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 Christmas cards to a variety of business associates, never use bulk mail. Always send them first class.

Special Circumstances

Every time you send out a Christmas 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.

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