Christmas Card Etiquette

Christmas Card Etiquette

Christmas Card Etiquette

Christmas is all about tradition and what better way to articulate your well wishes to your nearest and dearest over the holiday season than with a classic handwritten card. Having been the art of expression and celebration since its first use back in 1843, the humble card holds a lot more substance than its modern day electronic counterparts. A personally versed card shows gratitude and friendship, it tells someone you care and are thinking of them and it can be hung on the tree or given pride of place on the mantel piece – something you can’t do with an email or text! “In the over-saturation of commercialism that has become our modern holiday season, I still find Christmas cards a refreshingly low-key, but still super-meaningful reminder of what should be one of the season’s greatest emphases: the relationships we treasure throughout the year. They’re a lovely and simple reminder that even people you don’t necessarily interact with often anymore are still thinking about you appreciating your presence in their lives.” Katie M Weiland, Author To help you spread some long-handed cheer this holiday season, Pen Heaven have been speaking to authors and journalists alike about their top tips for Christmas card etiquette.

Handwritten in Ink

  • Handwriting says you care - "Never type your Christmas card messages or use a rubber-stamped signature. We rarely send physical mail in the post now, so make the most of your Christmas card by showing you care with a handwritten personalised message". LAURA PEARSON-SMITH, A LIFE WITH FRILLS 
  • Neatness is next to Godliness “Every Christmas, I seem to receive a clutch of Christmas cards in which the handwriting is so illegible that I have to spend hours trying to decipher who on earth sent them. My tip would be to practise writing legibly - or to ask the member of your family with the nicest handwriting to write the cards. I find the handwriting, and the implement used (no Biros, please - they're just not festive) makes a lot of difference to how much I appreciate the festive good wishes!” Lydia Slater, Dep Editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine
  • Audition your Pen - Find a nice writer and a solid surface.  I like to trial pens before using them.  I don't use fountain pens as they aren't that easy to get a hold of these days but finding a quality biro that doesn't need much pressure, flows nicely, doesn't clump and writes nicely can also be a bit of a mission!  Hold auditions for your writing implement and try out a few venues before getting started.  I like my closed laptop for some reason but a good table with comfortable writing height also works well. Sarah Saunders - Lifestyle magazine for women.

Write a Personal Message

  • Stay Fresh - “My tip would to be to write cards over a series of days so that you don't get tired of writing them and they begin to be less personal. Write only a few at a time so that it doesn't feel like a chore and you write more of a personal note.” Kellie Brown, BigFashionista 
  • Get in the zone - “Try not to get distracted.  Once you get into the flow it can be disruptive to stop, find somewhere to put everything and retain your various piles, so make sure stuff is done before you sit down. Dog out, cup of tea on hand, remote by your side.  The flow makes all the difference between a hassle and an enjoyable task.” Sarah Saunders - Lifestyle magazine for women.
  • Add an adjective. – “You can still personalise your message even if it's short, just by adding an adjective to suit the recipient. 'Have a delicious Christmas' for a foodie, or 'Have a bang-on-trend Christmas' for a fashionista………Issue an invitation. If it's been far too long since you saw someone, try to reconnect. Don't put the vague 'Must meet up in the New Year', but be specific: 'We'll invite you for Sunday lunch in boring January'. And do it! Adrienne Wyper.
  • DIY -  “I love a well-thought-out, handwritten greeting from a friend or family member. Because it's rare, it's also a delightful surprise these days. Just make sure it's actually personal -- not a faux-personalized card written by your assistant as a marketing move. Anyone can see the difference. The delight of a greeting card is that feeling of knowing someone was thinking of you as they wrote -- don't take that away from the recipient. “ Dana Sitar

Brief is Better

A short and personal letter is permissible for friends and relatives who are rarely seen, but round-robins and pictures of family and pets should be avoided. “When I do write a card for the holidays (I’m not always consistent) I keep the words to minimum. (Maybe that’s not what a writer should say?) The reason being is that I feel like holiday cards do their best work when the art speaks the words for me.” Meredith Resnik,


it’s customary for the husband’s names before the wife, but not compulsory, a less formal address for a family card is simply the surname. In all cases handwrite the address (this is not a mass mail out label moment) and always include the senders address in the top left hand corner of the envelope. “I think it's always important to start a card addressing the person(s) with 'Dear' or 'To' for some reason this has been dropped over the last few years. I also think when you are in a couple/ or a young family to finish with 'With love from ie Chloe & Theo' or 'Chloe, Theo & Family' Chloe Pierre

Signing Off

  • Love? - ‘Love’, ‘With Love’ and ‘Love From’ should be kept for those closest to you and never for business, ‘Best Wishes’ is a more befitting less personal alternative. When signing off for the family it’s usually the father first, then mother and children (still at home and unmarried). 
  • But it’s from both of us? – “ I write all the cards, of course.  When I send to his family and friends I address from Him & I, when it's my friends and family, it's from Myself & Him.  Just retains a bit of our sense of identity.
  • Should I sign off from Tiddles the Cat too? – “My grandparents used to do this and it was adorable but not everyone likes dogs or cats.  Rule of thumb if the addressee has a pet - feel free to include a "from the dog/cat" sign off with a wee paw print doodled on.  Otherwise just address from the humans.” 

Use a Stamp and Post in Time

The ideal time to send a card is the first week of December, no later than the 8th, allowing for the cards arrival in mid-December. With no better way to make that personal impact this holiday season, and give those you love that tingle of excitement when the postman arrives, reach for your pen and get greeting.