The season for sending out holiday cards is here, apparently loaded with grammatical mistakes. The thing is, some people find the process of addressing and mailing holiday cards intimidating, fearing they won’t catch a typo or they’ll forget an etiquette rule. But experts say not to let the fear of making an error keep you from sending cards and connecting with others.
“Just having a good excuse once a year to reach out and make contact and touch base with all kinds of people in your life is a really rich opportunity,” explains Daniel Post Senning, spokesperson for The Emily Post Institute.
Whether this is your first year to send holiday cards or you’ve been doing it for decades, here’s what you need to know to avoid common holiday card mistakes.
- You should use someone’s full name when addressing an envelope, but including their title isn’t necessary, according to Senning, especially if they’re a family member or friend.
- If you want to use formal titles, “Miss” is for an unmarried woman, though it’s more commonly used for girls these days. Mrs. refers to a married woman and Ms. can be used for all women.
- The plural of two women is Mesdames and the plural of Mr. is Messrs.
- Some people prefer other titles, like the gender-neutral Mx. Sennign says you shouldn’t be afraid to ask people how they prefer to be addressed.
- For couples, the traditional way to address a man and woman is Mr. and Mrs. John Smith. But you can simply use their names, like John and Jane Smith. Senning notes it doesn’t matter who comes first as “that’s a discretionary choice.”
- People get very confused about when to use an apostrophe, so here’s a quick refresher.
The Smith Family:
- Do: Merry Christmas from the Smiths. The Smith’s Christmas Eve party is coming up soon. The present is from the Smith family.
- Don’t: The Smith’s are traveling for the holidays. Merry Christmas from the Smith’s.
The Jones Family:
- Do: Merry Christmas from the Joneses. The Jones’ Christmas Eve party is coming up.
- Don’t: The Jones’ are traveling for the holidays. Merry Christmas from the Jones’s.