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Christmas Card Etiquette

8 Tips For Sending Christmas Cards

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Woman sitting at table writing christmas cards
Dylan Ellis/Photodisc/Getty Images

One of my favorite Christmas time traditions is preparing, addressing and mailing out Christmas cards to family and friends. It is also great to anticipate and receive the daily delivery of cards everyday when the postman arrives. Although this seems a pretty obvious task, there are some specific rules that everyone should observe when mailing out Christmas and holiday cards. Here are some helpful tips to ensure that you put your best foot forward as you send a little bit of seasonal joy to everyone on your Christmas card list.

  1. Designate which cards are to be sent to which families. You should always set up an organizational system that helps you to remember which of your friends actually celebrate Christmas and which ones do not. In addition, if you and your family like to produce family newsletters or photos during the holidays, you should keep a specific list of those who should receive these more personalized cards separate from those who should not. You may want to opt for a more general card for business associates and others whom you do not know well. In short, try to keep your cards appropriate to your recipients.
  2. Wait for the season before you mail. It is true that it is a great idea to get your cards in the mail as early as you’re able, however, it is best to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday. The ideal time for your cards to arrive is around the 2nd week of December. Try not to wait too long keeping in mind that the post office is extremely busy during the holidays and you certainly do not want your cards to arrive after Christmas day.
  3. Add your personal note or greeting and sign your name. Many families are able to either create their own custom cards or order them from printing companies. These are all great and they offer the unique opportunity to send custom greetings that no one else will have. Especially if you are ordering a large quantity of cards you may want to have your name printed into the card. This is certainly a fine alternative, but if it is possible you should use your own signature or penmanship wherever possible. This might include a personal note on the inside or the addressing of the outer envelope. Even better might be a short, handwritten personal note to each of your recipients. This gesture will show that you took the time to personally attend to and mail your recipients card.
  4. Always include a return address. The return address is a very helpful and needful piece of information on any written correspondence. When your card is received the addressee will know right away who sent the card. The return address also ensures that they have your current and correct address for mailing out their own cards in return.
  5. Return the favor.Keep careful records of those with whom you are exchanging Christmas and holiday cards each year. If you have sent out a Christmas card to the Joneses for four years straight and have not received a card or greeting in return, it is perfectly acceptable for you to remove them from your card list. Their lack of response shows that either they are not interested in receiving the cards or do not participate in the exchange of greetings in that way.
  6. Send the hard copy. Opt for actual cards rather than e-cards as there really is no substitute for the real thing. Imagine hanging an email on the tree or mantle! A Christmas card is sent as an act of friendship and gratitude. The whole idea is to give send a gift of blessing and joy to another. These are meant to be personal. This is the season to be jolly so buckle down and send out some long hand cheer.
  7. Send business cards to the office. It is considered inappropriate to send Christmas cards and greetings to a business associate’s home. Unless you know and interact with him or her socially you should keep it professional and send your card to his or her office. This is another instance when the family photo cards and newsletters would not be appropriate to send.
  8. Send co-worker’s cards to their homes. Handing out cards in the office may be easier, but you really should mail these to their homes. This adds a personal touch, while also eliminating the possibility that someone may take offense at being left out because you don’t have a card for him or her. Plus, Christmas cards equal tradition and the tradition demands that your recipient get to receive your beautiful greetings of glad tidings at the door—so take the time to mail the cards.
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