Christmas Card Etiquette for 2020

Last Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Christmas season is here and you’re getting ready to send friends and family your annual Christmas cards. You’ve already taken gorgeous family photos and picked out a theme. All that’s left now is picking your Christmas card wording, signing and addressing, and sending them out. To ensure you’re making the most of your Christmas notes, we’ve provided a helpful guide for Christmas card etiquette.

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happy child girl with a Christmas present on wooden background

Christmas Card Etiquette: Writing a Greeting Card

The tradition of Christmas cards began in 1843 and since then became an important part of the Holidays for many families across the world. Christmas cards allow family and friends to reconnect, and for that reason, it’s vital that the cards include all the essential information.

When To Send Christmas Cards

Christmas cards should be sent at least three weeks before Christmas, but no more than five weeks before. This gives the recipient plenty of time to hang up or display their Christmas cards for the holidays. Make sure you give yourself time to collect family and friends’ addresses, to create and order your cards, to address envelopes, and to mail them out.

What To Say In A Christmas Card

A Christmas card message usually contains a holiday greeting, a personal message, a Christmas quote or saying, a sign off, and your signature, in that order. These messages should be personal, yet appropriate. You also want to make sure your message is right for the relationship of the recipient. If you’re struggling with coming up with messages, introductions, or sentiments for your Christmas cards, don’t worry. We’ve already compiled a list of Christmas card messages that you can read at any time.

What To Write In A Business Christmas Card

If you’re sending out Christmas cards to employees or coworkers, make sure to keep the message polite and professional. The message may include sayings such as “Thank you for all your hard work this year. Enjoy a much deserved holiday with your family,” or a simple “Merry Christmas!”

Christmas Card Name Etiquette

For close family and friends, it’s perfectly fine to address them in your letter with their first name or the name you know them best by. For less close friends, business relationships, acquaintances or the similar, use a little more care. Titles, such as Ms., Mr., Mrs., Dr., or other, may be more appropriate to use in these letters, depending on the relationship. If you know how the recipient prefers to be addressed, use that for your letter. If you’re unsure, err on the side of polite.

Etiquette for Signing Christmas Cards

Signing Christmas cards is the perfect way to add a final bit of personalization and holiday spirit. That’s why we’ve included some tips to make sure that yours look and sound as great as you imagined them.

How To Sign A Christmas Card

The most important Christmas card etiquette to adhere to when signing your name, is that it’s hand done. Use blue or black ink, not pencil or a less professional writing material. The card sign off should also include a closing sentiment. These sentiments can be more or less personal, depending on the recipient, or they can be Christmas themed.

Some examples of sign offs for loved ones include:

  • Best wishes
  • With love
  • With all our love
  • Much Love
  • Hugs and kisses
  • XOXO
  • Lots of love
  • Warmly
  • Take care
  • Yours truly
  • Your friend

And if the sign off is for a professional relationship, consider using:

  • All the best
  • Sincerely
  • Cheers

Or if you prefer something with more Christmas spirit, try:

  • Happy Holidays
  • Merry Christmas
  • God bless

Christmas concept table top flat lay on wooden background. Woman wearing yellow sweater holding white blank greeting card in grey envelope. Jute string, gift box, Christmas ornament, pine cones, firethorn branches and yellowed leaves leaves on wooden background.

How To Sign A Card From A Family

If you’re planning on signing your Christmas card from the whole family, pay attention to how you order the names. Traditionally, the husband’s name is first, followed by the wife’s. After that, each child’s name is added in the order of their birth. You can also simply write the plural version of your family’s last name, depending on what works best for you. If you’re not sure whether or not to add an apostrophe to the pluralized last name, it depends on the ending letter of your last name. If your last name ends in an s, use an apostrophe. And, if it doesn’t, you can forgo the apostrophe.

How To Put A Card In An Envelope

Placing a card in an envelope is such an unnoticed etiquette rule, most people forget it. However, proper Christmas card etiquette calls for cards to be placed in an envelope so that the writing is facing the recipient when they open it. The writing should also be facing down so that the recipient doesn’t have to turn it all the way around.

How To Sign An Envelope Properly

Once your Christmas cards are written, signed, and in the envelope, it’s time to start addressing. We’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to make sure everything goes smoothly in the final stretch.

Where to Write Address on Envelope and the Proper Way to Address an Envelope

The recipient’s address should be neatly centered in the middle of the envelope. If you’re handwriting the addresses, note that the following need to be included, all on separate lines.

  • Recipient’s Full Name
  • Street Address
  • City, State and Zip Code

Try to keep your handwriting as neat and legible as possible. You don’t want to risk the mail carrier delivering the letter to the wrong address, or even having it sent back to you. Also, make sure to write the address in pen, not pencil or marker.

Proper Address

Proper addresses and correct recipient names are essential when sending Christmas cards. Note that proper addresses (Ms., Mr., Mrs., Dr., or other) should be included when writing the recipient’s full name on the envelope. If you are unsure of what title is appropriate for the person receiving the letter, it’s safest to use either Mr. or Ms., though the best solution is to do a little research.

How To Address An Envelope To A Family

If you are addressing the envelope to an entire family, don’t write out each of the family member’s names on the front of the envelope. Instead, write “The (Pluralized Last Name).” Don’t forget, if the last name ends with a “s” naturally, add an apostrophe.

christmas card waiting to be signed

Proper Way to Address an Envelope to a Married Couple

If the Christmas card is for a married couple without children, you should write more than just the pluralized form of their last name. Traditionally, you would address these envelopes as “Mr. & Mrs. (Last Name).” If one of the two kept their original last name, you should address it differently. Instead, write “Mr. (Last Name) & Mrs. (Last Name).” The same rule applies to hyphenated last names.

How To Put a Return Address On Envelope

We highly recommend ordering personalized return addresses to make this step simple and create a more elegant card. If you decide to write the return address by hand, only use pen, and write the address in the upper left hand corner, opposite from the postage stamp. The following should be included in the return address, all on separate lines, before you drop the cards in the mail.

  • Your Full Name
  • Street Address
  • City, State, and Zip Code

Christmas Card Tips and Additional Resources

If you’re looking for additional resources for Christmas cards in the holiday season, look no further. We’ve also written guides on Christmas card messages and wishes and what to write in a Christmas card. Or, you can browse our Christmas stationary for some inspiration for this year’s Christmas cards.

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