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CONTEMPORARY COURTESIES

Etiquette column: Send out holiday cards with care

Handwriting adds personal touch, and don’t turn family letter into a novel.

Friday, November 30, 2012 - 12:01 am

Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at www.news-sentinel.com.

Q. Karen, is it okay to send Christmas cards to non-Christian friends and clients?

A. The holiday season is a time when many individuals and businesses send greeting cards to friends, family members and clients. These cards can bring people on your list up to date on your family and company events over the past year. And this can be a way to express thanks and appreciation. However, some rules of etiquette should be observed, especially if you are sending them from your business:

•Hand addressing adds a very personal touch.

•Use correct titles such as Mr. and Mrs. or Ms., etc.

•Add a salutation in your own handwriting, as well as a personal signature even if your cards have pre-printed signatures.

•A handwritten line or two lets people know you took time to think specifically about them.

•Send “happy holiday” cards to people of non-Christian faiths.

•Do not include your business card in your greeting card.

•If you are sending e-cards be sure they go to the people who use email regularly. Otherwise, a “real” card may be in order for those non-techies.

The Christmas letter

If a Christmas letter is part of your tradition for your personal cards, there are some things to keep in mind when writing it:

•Keep the letter to one page.

•Be careful not to sound like a braggart. A line or two about each family member is enough.

•Don't talk about money.

•Give general information only. No need to give the results of your colonoscopy.

•Serious information, such as illnesses and deaths, should only be shared with close friends and family members.

A yearly newsletter can chronicle your family events, but remember, your information is probably not as fascinating to others as it is to you. Less is more!

Karen Hickman is a certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy LLC. Do you have a question for her? Email clarson@news-sentinel.com, and we’ll forward it to her.