Holiday Card Etiquette: 14 Do’s and Don’ts

Holiday Card Etiquette
Send holiday cards early and ensure the recipient's name and address are correct. Avoid controversial topics and ensure the card suits the recipient's beliefs. Use appropriate salutations and sign-offs, and personalize the message.

1. Send Cards Early

Sending holiday cards early, especially to distant receivers, demonstrates concern and respect for their schedule and circumstances. You acknowledge that the receiver may need longer to receive a card owing to distance and probable post office delivery delays.

Sending holiday greeting cards early ensures that your card arrives on time for the recipient to enjoy it during the holiday season. 

2. Addressing Etiquette

Addressing an envelope correctly portrays respect and professionalism. Here are some etiquette tips to help you address an envelope correctly:

  • When addressing someone with a professional title, such as a doctor, judge, or professor, use their appropriate title before their name. For example, “Dr. Jane Smith” or “Judge John Doe.” When in doubt about someone’s title, use “Mr.”, “Mrs.” or “Ms.” instead.
  • When addressing an envelope, use the recipient’s full name, including their first name, middle initial (if applicable), and last name. This helps avoid confusion if multiple people have the same last name.
  • Capitalize the first letter of each word in the address, except for prepositions (“of” or “in”), articles (“the” or “a”), and conjunctions (“and” or “but”). For example, “123 Main Street” or “University of California, Los Angeles.”
  • Always include a hand-addressed return address on the top left-hand corner of the envelope.

3. Personalize The Message

making personalized holiday cards
Making personalized holiday cards

Personalizing a message on a card demonstrates thoughtfulness and appreciation. When you take the time to mention specific details or memories, it shows the recipient that you not only remembered them but also valued the moments that you shared. 

A personalized message on a card strengthens relationships. By showing that you care enough to put in the effort to craft a unique and personalized message, you can make the recipient feel seen and heard. 

4. Keep It Positive

Remember that people come from different backgrounds and hold diverse beliefs when sending your holiday cards. Therefore, you should avoid controversial topics like politics or religion in your season’s greetings card.

Instead, focus on spreading positivity and holiday cheer with the message. You could share a heartwarming holiday memory, express gratitude for your loved ones, or offer wishes for the new year. 

5. Pick The Perfect Card

When selecting a card, you should consider the recipient’s interests and preferences because it demonstrates that you have given the card some thought. A card specially made for the receiver is likelier to strike a chord with them and make an impression.

If selecting a card for a close friend who enjoys humor, select one with a clever message or a humorous cartoon. Choose a more heartfelt message to show your support and concern while selecting a card for a struggling or grieving family member.

6. Watch Your Words

You should use suitable language when sending cards, whether for a birthday, a holiday, or other events. Avoid using slang or unpleasant words that can upset your receiver.

Proper etiquette of sending cards requires that the message be respectful, polite, and appropriate for all recipients. Always take the time to consider who will be reading the card and choose a language that is inclusive of different backgrounds and beliefs.

7. Consider Including A Family Photo

Including a family photo in a card is a thoughtful and personal touch, especially for distant relatives or friends. A photo can help them feel connected and updated on how the family is doing.

Select a clear and high-quality image that represents the family well. A family photo can also help to strengthen relationships and build a sense of community. It shows that the family is proud of their relationships and values their connections with others.

8. No Expectations

When reaching out to busy or distant acquaintances, remember they may not have the time or inclination to respond. Approach communication with the understanding that a response is not guaranteed or expected.

One way to do this is to send a card or message expressing goodwill or appreciation without asking for a response. You might send a card wishing them a happy holiday season or letting them know you’re thinking of them.

9. Don’t Omit Anyone

Avoid omitting anyone, especially close family members or friends, when sending out holiday cards. Excluding someone from your holiday greeting card list can be hurtful and disrespectful.

Make a special effort to reach out to those closest to you, including your family members, friends, and colleagues. Sending them a card shows them how much you appreciate their presence in your life and value their friendship.

10. Maintain The Tone

Maintaining a professional tone and using language acceptable to the office is essential when sending holiday cards to clients, business associates, or coworkers. Although you might want to express your best wishes and gratitude, you should ensure the message is respectful. 

Tips for keeping your card message professional:

  • The language of your message should be formal, courteous, and respectful. 
  • While you may have personal beliefs about religion or politics, it’s best to avoid discussing these topics in a professional setting. 
  • A short message of a few sentences is enough to convey your warm wishes and appreciation.
  • Use the appropriate and formal wording to sign the card.

11. Quality Matters

The quality of the materials used when sending holiday cards can significantly impact how the recipient feels about the gesture. Using high-quality paper and printing can strengthen the message of friendliness and warm wishes that the card communicates.

It ensures that the card feels substantial and durable, giving the recipient a sense that you have invested time and effort into creating something unique. 

12. TMI Alert

It’s crucial to be careful while writing a card message since you don’t want to unintentionally overshare personal information or facts that can make the receiver uncomfortable. Observe the following politeness guidelines:

  • Remember that the card aims to spread holiday cheer and well wishes, so keep your message centered on that theme. 
  • A card message should be brief and simple. 
  • When including photos in your card, ensure they’re appropriate and not too personal. A family snapshot or festive image is usually fine.

13. Don’t Forget Service Providers

Sending cards to service providers is a considerate and heartfelt way to express your gratitude for their hard work and commitment throughout the year. To ensure the gesture is appreciated, adhere to basic etiquette when sending these cards.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Consider the nature of your relationship with the service provider.  
  • Personalize the message to the recipient. 
  • Acknowledge their hard work and express your gratitude for the service they’ve provided throughout the year. 
  • Aim to send the card at least a week or two before the holiday so the recipient has time to receive it and enjoy it.

14. Saying Thank You

Following up with a handwritten thank-you note after receiving a Christmas greeting card or gift is a gracious and thoughtful gesture. When writing a thank-you note, always use proper etiquette. 

Start by addressing the note to the sender using their full name and expressing gratitude for the gift or card they sent. Avoid being overly formal or stiff, as this can detract from the message’s sincerity.


Tabitha is a curious and enthusiastic writer who believes in the power of words and the importance of good manners. Etiquette is her passion, and she enjoys sharing her knowledge with others. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

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