Is Your Holiday Card Etiquette Toasty or Frosty?

Written by CELI's President, Tiffany Adams. Click here for nationally published article.

‘Tis the season to extend warm wishes to friends, family, and business associates with the kind touchpoint of a holiday card.  Regardless of what you celebrate, the upcoming season is a festive time when millions reconnect with important people in their professional and personal lives.  These cards feature seasonal and religious themes and take various forms of season’s greetings, family newsletters, gratitude and appreciation themes.

Where did this tradition begin?  We tip our hats to the British.  The custom originated in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, a United Kingdom government worker.  He wanted to create something that ordinary people could afford to send and with the onset of railways and trains, instead of horse and carriages, more cards could be transported for mere pennies per card.  The first card depicted three panels displaying people caring for the impoverished, a holiday feast gathering, and even a controversial panel with a child being offered wine!

Try these 5 tips to differentiate your cards from the season’s noise:

1)       Your Signature – Preprinted signatures are considered to be in poor form by some.  Personalize with a handwritten signature, and better yet, a handwritten message or favorite quote.  Keep it simple and brief.  The handwritten signature and note are what makes your recipient feel valued. 

2)       Avoid Resume Inserts – Due to the modern day convenience of technological updates on social media, the tradition of newsletter updates is waning.  Avoid creating an insert that sounds like a brag sheet or resume of accomplishments.  Relationship-building and well wishes are the goals, and puffing oneself up is counterproductive to these goals.

3)       Mailing Your Cards – Always use the proper honorific of Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr. when addressing the envelope.  The man’s name is commonly placed first.  Mail your cards all at once so that Aunt Sally doesn’t feel slighted if she learns that Uncle George received your card earlier.  Insert your card in the envelope so that the face of the card faces the recipient as the card is pulled out.

4)       Electronic cards – E-cards are acceptable, but not preferable. The old-fashioned mailed card is still the best way to be memorable.  Most still enjoy the experience of walking to the mailbox and touching a beautiful card in the midst of bills and junk mail.  However, being green and saving time is important.  Therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable to divide your mailing lists into two groups: Internet –averse people and e-cards for others.

5)       Know Your Audience – Ensure that your card’s preprinted message and theme are respectful of your recipient’s tradition of celebrating the holidays.  Embracing diversity is what makes our wonderful world go around.

Times have changed since Sir Henry Cole’s original card in 1843, but what remains constant is the need to be respectful, kind, and memorable.  The number one priority is to be “others-focused” and make your recipients feel glad that you reached out.  May you warm the hearts of many this holiday season with your toasty and tasteful holiday card etiquette.