Christmas card writing & etiquette tips

Writing Christmas cards

We may live in a digital age, but Christmas cards are still very much alive and kicking, and what better way is there to share your festive well wishes with loved ones than in a beautiful handwritten card? Printed and personalised cards from the likes of Moonpig and similar are lovely, however nothing is as welcome as a card containing a well thought-out personal message to the recipient, written in the sender’s own handwriting; it shows that time and thought has been put in, which reflects how much you value that person. Also, it is nice to see a loved one’s handwriting in an age where we don’t get that pleasure very often.

Now is the perfect time to write and post your Christmas cards, so read through our tips below and get writing! If you have many cards to write, it is best to work through them with no distractions, so grab yourself a cup of tea, your favourite pens, and a book of stamps, and shut yourself away from the world for an hour or so. Christmas music in the background can be an inspirational touch, and help to set the mood.

Send a real card

Don’t be tempted by an e-card, or even a printed ‘personalised’ card unless you have it sent to yourself first so you can then write inside it. You can’t display an e-card on the mantelpiece, and handwriting makes all the difference to how a card is received.

What to write in a Christmas card

Christmas cards can feel as daunting as a blank canvas, but that needn’t be the case; with some simple ideas, you will be sorted. What you write in each card will depend on your relationship with the person/people. Wish them a happy Christmas, and personalise your message as much as possible. For example, if the recipient has a hobby they are keen on, mention that. If you know they’re a ‘crazy cat lady’, and are proud of it, make sure you refer to that. These special little mentions make the reader feel loved. An example could be:

“Merry Christmas, Anna! Wishing you a magical time. May your new year involve the petting of hundreds of cats! Love from, Lucy xxx”

Another example could be:

“Wishing you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Let’s meet up for a meal at that Chinese restaurant you love in January – it would be lovely to catch up. From Lucy and Stuart x”

Don’t feel you have to write a lot – less can be more. Don’t be tempted to write a round robin: keep it concise! Sign your cards off in whichever way you feel comfortable, depending on your relationship with the recipient. “Best wishes” is a good option for more distant friends or acquaintances.

How to address a Christmas card envelope

Image credit: Igor Stevanovic

Image credit: Igor Stevanovic

The etiquette of how to address a Christmas card envelope can become confusing when friends and loved ones get married, have kids, get divorced, co-habit, become widowed, and so on. Follow the tips below to get through the etiquette minefield unscathed!

  • Always use proper titles, such as Mr, Miss, Mrs, or Dr
  • For a single person, write (for example): Mr Tom Jones
  • Traditionally the man’s name was mentioned first when addressing a heterosexual married couple (for example, Mr and Mrs Jones), but nowadays this decision is up to your personal preferences and what you feel the recipients might prefer. For same sex couples, the same applies.
  • Swap out the honorifics as required, and write the one with the ‘higher status’ first – for example: Dr and Mr Jones, or Rev. and Mrs Jones.
  • If a couple are married but have different surnames, write them both out fully (Mr Tom Jones and Ms Helen Spencer).
  • If a couple are cohabiting but not married, list their names on separate lines, one beneath the other, in alphabetical order, like this:

Ms Helen Spencer

Ms Stephanie Evans

  • If a woman has become widowed, she still keeps her married surname.
  • Divorced women who choose to return to their maiden name become a Miss or Ms again.
  • If a couple have children, you could list them below their parents’ names on the envelope, but I’ve personally always just mentioned them in the card itself instead.

I hope this article has helped. Enjoy writing your cards, and merry Christmas! Stuck for gift ideas? Take a look here.

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

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