Etiquette: Holiday greeting cards

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From the November 24, 2011 edition

Hang the holly, dust off the dreidels and bust out the address book. The time has come to pump some life into the U.S. Postal Service and mail out holiday hellos. Here are some things to think about before selecting and mailing your well wishes.

Count before you buy

Nothing’s more infuriating than sitting down to write happy greetings only to find you don’t have enough cards. Always edit your list, and check it twice. Sending a card to every last member of your college intramural dodgeball team sounds like a great idea until your tongue and hand cramp out 15 cards deep.

Send early

The weekend after Thanksgiving is a good time to send cards, because things have yet to reach full hectic-holiday-season status. However, if December has passed and you’re still stuffing envelopes, try what Igloo Letterpress calls “winter” cards — cards with greetings that won’t lose their intrigue after 2012 starts. The press’s pop-up cards ($6 each), with themes like starry winter nights and peace, are designed with this long shelf-life in mind.

Write them by hand

Use the golden rule of sending letters: Send as you wish to receive. A hand-addressed card is always more charming than a printed label, even if there is a cute gingerbread man on it.

Keep the card recipient-appropriate

Keep in mind the recipient’s faith (or lack of it). Wishing someone joy and love is always a safe bet. Send raunchy cards only if you are 100 percent certain the other person will appreciate the joke. Photo cards of you in a ridiculous holiday sweater, Snuggie or an AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com-inspired pose are always a hit.

As for what to write inside: “Keep it short, keep it sweet, but keep the connection,” said Igloo’s shopkeeper, Beth Dekker. Sometimes all a card needs is a signature.