Holiday Card Tradition

If you took the Massachusetts Challenge Quiz 12, you probably know that Louis Prang, a printer and artist of Boston, is credited with introducing the Christmas card back in 1875. (If you haven’t taken that quiz yet, now you know the answer to question #10 :)). Today, sending holiday cards to friends and family can be taken casually, but you need to be sure to follow the rules of etiquette when sending cards to business associates. Holiday cards can have a strong positive marketing effect, as long as you avoid potential faux pas. Here are the basic rules for sending holiday cards to clients and business associates drawn from my own experience as well as from the wizdom of other etiquette experts.

1. The Card Itself
Keep in mind that you are conveying an image of your business through your holiday card. When your client opens the card, will they be impressed with your quality look and feel? Many recipients display the cards they receive. How will your card compare? Will it even be selected for display? Stick to cards printed on 100 pound premium paper with something like a precious silk or matte finish. The recipient will be able to feel the quality.

2. Card Themes
There are certainly a wide variety of holiday cards on the market today. Since it is hard to predict personal taste and sense of humor, to be safe steer away from the humorous ones. These days many businesses are opting for religion-neutral cards featuring fine art, winter scenes, snowflakes, animals, pinecones or trees, and a Happy Holidays message.

3. Plan Ahead
There is no down-side to sending out your cards early. You’ll be able to put the care and thought into the project before the holiday rush. If you’ve selected a quality, memorable card, the recipient is likely to put it on display and the earlier it arrives the more exposure it will give you and your company at their office.

4. The List
Take the time to be sure your list is up to date with all of your current prospects as well as clients, suppliers, and business partners. We suggest that you add names to your list throughout the year, but if that was not possible, you can go through your address books to insure your list is current. Receiving a card that has been forwarded from an outdated address can be a red flag to the recipient. I recommend always including titles of respect, such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr.

5. Addressing the Envelopes
The general advice is to address the envelopes by hand. Personally, I don’t think that is so critical. If you do have the time, hand addressing the envelopes will give them a more personal touch, clearly indicating it was not a mass-mailing. But, what is absolutely critical is that both the envelope and the printing on it are of high quality. In the end, it’s the card that’s most important; the envelope is likely to be tossed right out. At any rate, your return address can be imprinted on the envelope without compunction.

6. More On The Topic Of Titles
Correctly applying titles has become more complex today and warrants some further discussion. The traditional and most basic way to address a married couple with the same last name is “Mr. and Mrs. John Alden”. Today, the more informal “Priscilla and John Alden” or “John and Priscilla Alden” is acceptable. Either name can be first.

For people living together as a couple with different last names, the address would be “Priscilla Mullins and John Alden” or “Ms. (not Mrs.) Priscilla Mullins and Mr. John Alden” all on one line. If two people are living together, but aren’t a couple, use (Ms.) Priscilla Mullins on the first line and (Mr.) John Alden on the second line. The titles are optional, but preferred.

In business correspondence, when sending to a married woman, use Ms. rather than Mrs. Either “Ms. Rose Standish” or the less formal “Rose Standish” is correct.

When writing to a lawyer, you can use the suffix Esq. or Esquire. If you do use the suffix, leave off the title Mr. or Ms. A lawyer is addressed either as “Mr. John Adams” or “John Adams, Esq.” The suffix must be dropped when writing to a lawyer and spouse: “Mr. and Mrs. John Adams.”

Things start to get trickier with earned titles. The rule of thumb when addressing people who have earned a title such as Doctor or Reverend, or a military title such as Captain or General is that the name of the person with the title comes first, and a professional title comes before a social title. If the woman uses her husband’s name socially, the address is “Dr. Ellen and Mr. Robert Richards”. If she uses her maiden name both professionally and socially, it’s “Dr. Ellen Swallow and Mr. Robert Richards”. Note that her name comes first because her professional title “outranks” his social title. If both husband and wife are doctors and they use the same last name, the address is either “The Drs. Swallow” or “Drs. Ellen and Robert Swallow ” either first name can go first. Either of these two options is used whenever both people have the same title.

7. What About An Email Message?
I would strongly advise against using email as a substitute for the real thing. To start with, today’s spam filters are delighted to grab even an innocuous greeting. At best, the email greeting will be read and deleted. Worse would be if the recipient prints your email for display next to the quality paper cards from their other associates who apparently value their client more highly than you do.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: