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Business Holiday Greeting Cards: How to Impress, Not Stress,
During the Holidays
by Lydia Ramsey

When it comes to business holiday greeting
cards, to send or not to send is often
the question. Once you have decided
in the affirmative, you then have to determine who to include on your list, what
kind of card to choose and how to address the envelope.

There are lots of reasons for sending those holiday cards. You might want to
enhance your current business relationships, attract new customers, remind old
clients that you exist or show appreciation to those who have faithfully supported
you during the year. What is obviously a well-meaning gesture can actually offend
the people you want to impress when it is not done properly.

The first place to start is with a good quality card to show that you value your
clients and colleagues.  Skimping on your selection can be interpreted in a number
of ways. Your recipients might take it as a sign that business has not been good or
that they aren't worth a little extra investment on your part.

Make sure your list is up-to-date with correct names and current addresses.  If you
do this on a regular basis, it does not become a dreaded holiday chore.  As you gain
new clients and contacts throughout the year, take a few minutes to add them to
your database and mark them for your greeting card group. This way you won't
overlook anyone or embarrass yourself by sending the card to the old address.

Sign each card personally. Even if you have preprinted information on the card
such as your name - which is an impressive detail - you need to add your
handwritten signature. The most elegant cards should still have your personal
signature and a short handwritten message or greeting. Sound like a lot of trouble?  
If the business or the relationship is worth it, so is the extra effort. This is your
chance to connect on a personal level with your clients and colleagues.

Take the time to handwrite the address as well.  If you are ready to throw up your
hands at this point and forget the whole project, then have someone else address
the envelopes for you. Whatever you do, don't use computer-generated labels.
They are impersonal and make your holiday wishes look like a mass mailing. You
may save time and even money, but lose a client or a business associate in the

You may mail your greeting to the home if you know the business person socially.
Be sure to include the spouse's name in this instance. The card is not sent to both
husband and wife at the business address unless they both work there.

Whether you are addressing the envelope to an individual or a couple, titles
should always be used.  It's "Mr. John Doe," not "John Doe," or "Mr. and Mrs. John
Doe, rather that "John and Mary Doe."

Be sensitive to the religious and cultural traditions  of the people to whom you are
sending your cards.
 Find out whether they observe Christmas, Hanukah or
Kwanzaa and make sure your message is appropriate for each individual. If you
decide to go with one card and a single message for all, choose a generic one that
will not offend. "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" are both safe bets.

Mail your greetings in time to arrive for the designated holiday. If you find
yourself addressing the envelopes on Super Bowl Sunday, keep the cards until next
year and send out a high-quality note thanking people for their business during the
previous year instead.   The best way to avoid the last minute greeting rush is to
have all your envelopes addressed before Thanksgiving. Then during December
you can leisurely write a short message - one or two lines are all that is necessary
on each card, sign your name and have them in the mail with a minimum of hassle.

You now have all the time in the world for the shopping, baking, decorating and
celebrating that accompany the holiday season.

Additional Tips for Addressing Envelopes

If you are about to address your holiday greeting cards or the invitations to the
company party and you are confused about the correct way to do it, you are not
alone. There are situations that we have not had to consider before.  There are more
women with professional titles, increased numbers of women who retain their
maiden name after marriage, and couples choosing alternative living arrangements.
 The simple act of addressing an envelope has become quite complicated. Here are
a few tips to cover the majority of those demanding dilemmas.

Always write titles on the envelope. The card or invitation goes to "Mr. John Smith,"
not "John Smith." It is addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith," instead of "John and
Mary Smith."

When you address a couple, use titles, rather than professional initials.  It's "Dr. and
Mrs. John Smith," not "John Smith, M.D. and Mrs. Smith."

If both the husband and the wife are doctors, you write, "The Doctors Smith."  
However, if they use different last names, you address the envelope to "Dr. John
Smith and Dr. Mary Brown." The husband's name is placed first.

If the wife is a doctor and the husband is not, you send your invitation to "Mr. John
Smith and Dr. Mary Smith."

Try to get it all on one line. When the husband has an unusually long name, the
wife's title and name are indented and written on the second line:

The Honorable Jonathon Richardson Staniskowsky
and Mrs. Staniskowsky

When a couple is not married and share a mutual address, their names are written
on separate lines alphabetically and not connected by the word "and."

Ms. Mary Brown
Mr. John Smith

When the woman outranks her husband, her name is written first. It's "Major Mary
Smith and Lieutenant John Smith."

Note:  The man's name is always written first unless the wife outranks him or if the
couple is unmarried and her last name precedes his alphabetically. So much for
"Ladies first."

About the Author Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional
speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE
POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS.  She has been quoted or featured in The New
York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and
Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services,
e-mail her at or visit her web site Manners That Sell.
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