To help you prepare for the holiday season, here are some holiday-card etiquette tips from the experts at Hallmark: For family and friends...

Share story

To help you prepare for the holiday season, here are some holiday-card etiquette tips from the experts at Hallmark:

For family and friends

• Personalize your cards with a little note, and always sign the card — even if your name is printed on it.

• Keep your signature informal — no courtesy titles. Traditionally, family signatures begin with the father’s name, then the mother’s and the children — or simply, “John, Mary and family.”

• If a card is from more than one person, the person who signs it should write his or her name last as a gesture of courtesy.

• When sending a card to a couple with two different last names, address the card to “Mary Smith, John Jones.” If there are children, write “Mary Smith, John Jones and family.”

Work relationships

• Mail cards for business associates to the office. If you are friends, however, or have met the person’s spouse or significant other, send cards to the home.

• Business greeting cards should be more tailored and formal than cards for family and social friends. Messages are brief and usually secular.

• When sending to a co-worker in your office, send the card to the home, and address it to “Mr. and Mrs.” if the recipient is married.

• When sending to a married woman who uses her maiden name at work, address the cards to “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.” If she prefers to use her maiden name for all occasions, work and social, address the card to “Mr. John Smith and Ms. Susan Jones.” Sign only your name to a card for a business associate, unless your spouse has met the recipient.

If your family creates a holiday newsletter, do not send it to co-workers unless you have a very close personal relationship with them.

Special situations

• When sending a card to someone of a different tradition or ethnic background, choose a card with a secular design and sentiment, such as “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings,” or those with general good wishes or wishes for peace. As an alternative, send a New Year’s card instead.

• Take special care following a death in a family. If the card is to a widow, address her as “Mrs. John Jones.”

In the envelope

• Insert the folded side first, with the design face up toward the flap.

Mailing notes

• Mail cards first class so they will be forwarded or returned to you if the address cannot be located.

• Include your return address to comply with the U.S. Postal Service’s request and to help your friends keep their mailing lists up to date.