Christmas Card Etiquette

As publicity officer for a small charity Christmas card organisation, I’m often asked for help on the relevant etiquette. So with the help of half a bottle of whiskey (blended, saving the single malt for later) and reference to Debrett’s and other guardians of our sacred social skills, etiquette and style, I’ve put together this sometimes tongue-in-cheek guide to everything to do with Christmas cards. Deviation will incur penalties. If you have any suggestions on how to improve this fingerpost to social success, slap them in as a Comment.

Q. Who do I send to?
A. Tricky. Family, friends. Not your bank manager (except if you’re wanting a loan) or your doctor or local tax collector.

Q. What about work colleagues?
A. This is a minefield we choose to skirt around. Our insurance wouldn’t cover any fallout. It’s really unfair of you to ask.

Q. Digital vs standard card?
A. Digital for digital-only contacts, standard cards for flesh and blood family and friends.

Q. The envelope: printed or handwritten?
A. Handwritten always trumps printed (unless you’re selling something). Choose a good pen.

Q. What colour ink should I use?
A. Blacks’s best, blue’s fine. Definitely not green! Reserve green for vitriol; for those you are actively not sending a card to.

Q. What about red or dark coloured envelopes?
A. The post office suggests using a white label (but handwrite this) so the sorting machine doesn’t blow up.

Q. To arrive by when?
A. Ideally by mid-December. This year.

Q. Hand delivered vs posted?
A. Either. But if posting, remember the Postcode. If delivering by hand, accept any sherry on offer. Don’t refuse a second glass. Don’t drive.

Q. Stamps vs franking machine?
A. Stamps. Unless you’re selling something.

Q. Whose name comes first in the card?
A. You choose. It’s the twenty first century. But if you also name children, do it from oldest to youngest. Don’t include the dog’s name unless the dog is expecting a card in return.

Q. Can I write, “From the Smith family?”
A. That’s fine if by this you mean the children as well. And your name is Smith.

Q. Can I send to people of other faiths?
A. Of course, but be sensitive with card design and message.

Q. Charity cards?
A. Definitely, but make sure the charity gets the maximum return.

Q. Do I use titles such as Mr, Mrs, Dr etc on the envelopes?
A. If you must or if the recipient expects it. But life’s quite short, you know.

Q. How do I choose the right card?
A. Visit one of our shops. Find them here.

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