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Christmas Card Manners

Posted Dec 02 2008 2:49am

Monday Morning Manners
The Etiquette of Sending Christmas Cards
What are the pros and cons of sending printed cards versus e-mail cards?

If your only relationship with someone is a digital one, then an e-mail card is fine. If the recipient is family or a flesh-and-blood friend, then a standard card is going to be the best choice.

1 More than 80% of all correspondence is now electronic, so it makes sense that we should want to express our Christmas wishes by the same means we express ourselves year 'round. That's why e-mail cards are so popular.

The drawback of an e-mail card is its brief lifespan. It has just about as much impact on the recipient as the countless jokes, political musings, and urban legends he or she has received.The recipient is likely to give it less than ten seconds of his or her time before hitting the delete button. It's unlikely that anyone else in the family will ever know about the card, let alone see or read it.
However, for social networking friends and others, an e-mail card makes sense. They also make sense for those serving in the military or living overseas when standard cards might be delayed in the mail.
Money is tight for businesses and families alike. If you want to send Christmas wishes but can't due to budget constraints, don't hesitate to send electronic cards. Just be understanding if it ends up unread in your friend's "Junk Mail" folder.    
The benefits of a card sent through standard mail are its longevity and its personal impact. In a sense that card contains your DNA. You addressed and hand-signed it. It might be just a little bit of you, but it's still more personable than an electronic greeting.
Mailed cards usually cause a little excitement or at least curiosity when they arrive. In my house, and yours too, I bet, cards are opened before any other mail. Once opened, cards are left on the kitchen counter or placed in a special spot in the house for all to read and enjoy, prolonging their life, and the good wishes you sent them with.

When is it OK to remove someone from your card list?

There's a lot of misunderstanding about the etiquette of sending Christmas cards. Because of it, most people send more cards than they need to.

It's appropriate to send a card to anyone; however, they're most appropriate for sending greetings and best wishes for those you won't see in person this holiday season.
There's no need to send them to neighbors or friends at school, work, or church that you're going to see between now and January 1. They'll all know your good wishes because you'll tell them when you stop to say, "Hello" in the halls or over the back fence. 
Also, Christmas cards don't require you to acknowledge receipt, and one isn't required in return. Although, it is nice to mention the card the next time you're in contact with the sender. "Your card was lovely, Jan; thanks for sending it!"
There's no rudeness inherent in dropping someone from your card list, especially if you're sending standard cards instead of e-mail cards. Money is hard to come by this year, so if you've been thinking about trimming names off your list, this will be a good time.

When deciding whom to cut, keep in mind these tips:

2 If you've sent a card for the last two years and haven't received one in return, you're fine to stop sending.

Keep sending cards to older persons who might be lonely or who don't send cards simply because they can't afford them or might be unable to handwrite items.

Send cards to those you know who have suffered a loss or major life change this year (illness, death, divorce, unwanted move, job loss); they'll appreciate knowing you care. (See today's Quick Tip for more on this.)      

How should you sign your cards?

The etiquette for signing holiday cards is different from other cards in that it's the only card where one member of the family can sign for all the others. Usually Dad's name is listed first, followed by Mom's and then all the children from oldest to youngest.
Kent, Maralee, Marc and Corbett McKee
Once children are married or living on their own, their names are not included on  your cards.
In the case of blended families, the parent/step-parents' names are listed on the first line and the children's names on the second. For children, you can add their last name or leave it off if some of the children have different last names than the others.
James and Callie Snyder
Beth, Timothy, and Leah Van Huff  

Is it correct to use address labels and name stamps?

Cards sent with address labels and name stamps have all the warmth of a mass mailing from a hardware store. The labels and stamps are certainly convenient, but they score a failing grade in seeming personable. Handwrite your return address and hand-sign all cards.
In addition, you'll want to write a personal note of a line or more above your signature.
Imprinted cards are lovely, but even those require a handwritten signature beneath your personal note.
The difference with imprinted cards is that you'll be signing only your own name below the note (to identify that you wrote it). Because the names of your family members are imprinted above, there's no need to hand-sign their names.

Quick Tip
Should You Send a Card to Someone  Suffering a Loss This Year?

4 Absolutely, but probably not the card from the boxed set you're sending others on your list.
Wishing someone, "A Very Merry Christmas" or "The Happiest New Year Ever" seems thoughtless when the recipient is suffering a major loss or setback that occurred this year (life-altering illness, death of a close family member, divorce, loss of job, loss of home, etc.).
Handpick the card you'll send and make sure to add a personal note letting them know you're thinkingof them and praying for them.
If they live nearby, invite them to join you in a low-key outing that will focuson friendship more than the holiday.

Maralee Sig

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