Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Card Etiquette

I've got some heavy things happening in my life right now. I still can't stop thinking about the evils perpetrated at Penn State. A close friend is divorcing. Another was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Another can't get pregnant, and has exhausted all treatment options. So I feel the need to do a post on the lighter side.

Let's be vapid and talk about holiday cards.

We just ordered ours. We send them every year, and we love getting them. Yes, even the ones with the 500+-word supplemental essays sharing how the supergenius kids are on the honor roll again, and telling cruise ship stories. Good for you. I mean that. But if I'm not related to you, please don't send one my way. A simple card will do.

We always put a picture of the kids on our cards, but we never include DH and me in the picture. I hear that's a southern thing, though we are definitely not southern. And we're not fugly or anything, it's just - well, we prefer to see people's kids and pets, and not so much them. Especially not them in the picture every year. Depends on the personalities involved, I know, but it just seems vain. Anyway, there's just nothing better than seeing how the kids have grown and changed. Love it.

It irks me when people do not follow the proper card etiquette. Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking: Um, what about "it's the thought that counts," not everyone cares about etiquette, blah blah blah. It is something I just can't help but notice, ok? Kind of like my issue with walking into someone's home and seeing pictures hanging way too high, making the ceiling look shorter. I would never say something IRL, of course.

Yes, I know I have a problem.

I'm a big proponent of Old School Etiquette. (Although from the coarse language I use on this blog, I can see how that might not be too obvious.) I'm talking Miss Manners, Crane's Blue Books and the like. There is nothing worse for me than to get a well-designed card from a faraway friend, then I keep reading and I see the order of the names, and notice that they are listed incorrectly! Gah!

PSA time: When informally listing the names of members of a (hetero) family, PUT THE WIFE'S NAME FIRST. Ladies first, people.

Happy Holidays!
Wilma and Fred Flintstone
Bam Bam and Pebbles


The Flintstone Family
Wilma, Fred, Bam Bam and Pebbles (you could put a comma after Bam Bam's name if you want, or use the "&" sign)

However, when using the formal, such as "Mr. and Dr." - the (hetero) husband's name goes first. And if no one changed their names when they got married or shacked up, RESPECT THAT and use their Actual Names.

Ms. Goldie Hawn and Mr. Kurt Russell


Get it? Got it? Good.


mom2boy said...

Ha. Now I know. :)

I was just trying to decide if we were sending out cards this year. Definitely too late for the cute kid card. I've been known to not get them out until they'd arrive after the holiday. Is like nails on a chalk board to read?? (omg - I lost my phone on sat and hadn't backed up a month's worth of photos aaaaaaaah).

Anandi said...

@mom2boy - make them Happy New Year cards and you've got more time.

I use a photo taken through the year - I don't fuss with special "holiday card" photos.

Unlike Hush, I *do* like to see the whole family, because I don't see my faraway friends that often and honestly, I'm friends with them and not their kids :)

The etiquette bit is fascinating - thanks for the PSA. Why is the informal wife-first, but formal man-first? How odd. I always sign wife-first since I'm writing out those damn cards :D

When addressing, I just use "The ___ Family". I'm sure I'm doing it all wrong, but I'll hyphenate if the hubby and wife have different last names.

And I post our holiday letter on my blog and try not to make it too annoying. But we really are happy, overall :)

And sorry about your heavy news. I feel the same way right now - got two friends in similar situations as yours, lots of people talking about Penn State, etc.

NK: Style-ING w/ Children said...

virtual hugs to you. It is hard to deal with bad news :(

we've never done the x-mas cards. bad, I know :)

thank you for the lesson in etiquette :)

hope you feel better soon.

hush said...

@mom2boy - My sympathies on the lost phone and picts! Worst nightmare.

Nope, late cards actually don't bug me. I'm inconsistent like that. ;) I'm with @Anandi on the make it a New Year's card idea, and you're set. I hope you manage to send some "cute kid" cards out - so sweet!

@Anandi - "Why is the informal wife-first, but formal man-first? How odd." I'm told it has to do with an old (English?) preference for not separating a man's name. In both the correct informal form: "Woman and Man Smith" as well as in the formal form "Mr. and Mrs. Man Smith" the man's name is kept together. Unofficially, my southern grandmother taught me from a young age that this is The Way It Is Done, Sugar.

@NK - Thanks. I bet with your design skillz you could put together a beautiful card featuring Baby C - maybe someday?

Claudia said...

A'ight, since you ask, here are my holiday card preferences.
I prefer no photo. Call me weird, cold, Luddite, whatever, but I like a beautiful piece of art, no matter how traditional (Santa, fireplace, whatever) or unconventional.

I really really like handmade cards. No, I don't expect other people to do that, even though I muster up the organization to do it once every 4 years or so. Just recently I made some Christmas party invitations. Ivory paper, two kinds of snowflakes I glued on, silver foil trees I glued on, and a touch of sparkly white glitter.
I did use a photo one year, but it was of our snowy woods with our black cat facing away from the camera off to the right of the shot.
Oh my god, I just made this all about how fabulous I think my cards are. Sorry, maybe that's my vanity instead of taking a picture of myself. I hate myself in all pictures anyway. Oh, and I only write a simple greeting, no annual "we rock" letter.

I have a different last name than DH and DD, so yeah, I dislike being wrongly named. I write the names separately on their own line, woman first if straight couple, my friend first if gay couple.

Sigh, now I want to send cards. Will I find the time? I have to take into consideration that most of them are going overseas, and that can take a few weeks.

paola said...

I don't write cards, but this seems to be yet another custom I have inherited from my adopted home country. I do receive the occasion one from friends that have not been offended by my tradition of not sending. I like receiving photos in general so am happy with a card with the whole family onit even if I do find it a bit schmulzy.

Re. naming etiquette, once (not kong ago) my SIL actually sent us a card with Family M.............. on it. Found that bizzar seeing we are actually Family C........ Sure I am Ms. P. M............., but the rest of them aint. You' d think she could have actulally rung up my mum to find out our correct name.

the milliner said...

Well....I've already missed my self-imposed Xmas card photo deadline. I just take pictures of DS at home or outside with a few simple props (pinecone etc.) and the pets if they're cooperative, and then do my own cards.

I'm still planning to do it for this year. Won't get to take the photos until 2 weekends from now, but I'll find a way to squeeze them out. And as usual, I'll have the handful that I never get around to mailing because I don't have full addresses.

Regarding ettiquette, good to know what the 'rules' are. I genererally address them in the order that @Anandi says. For the outside of the envelope, when there are families with different last names, I'll generally write the two adults names '+ family' and then address the kids on the inside. Where we live many couples do not marry and even if they do, the woman keeps her maiden name (changing it to the man's is the exception and you have to do extra paperwork/pay a fee to do it). This means that I never know what last name the kids have (his?hers? both?), so I leave it off. Amazingly I don't know the last names of many of the kids of our good friends.

the milliner said...

Oh, and lastly, but not least, sorry to hear about all the heavy stuff going on right now. It sounds like our situation last year at the same time. Hope you find moments of hope and brightness in the coming weeks.

Maria said...

I figured out the New Year's card trick a few years ago and I LOVE it. Who needs another task in the weeks before Christmas? And the week before New Year's has those weird blank spots where you still feel festive but mostly the festivities are over. Writing cards is the perfect low-stress activity.

AND (now, I'm sure Miss Manners would not approve of this – and I know my mother wouldn't, but…) you can write thank you notes on the cards and make them do double duty.

Cloud said...

I'm sorry you've got so much heavy stuff right now.

We do holiday cards with a picture of all of us- low key, though. We put on red or green shirts and the santa hats we've somehow acquired and get my sister to take a picture.

I actually like getting the newsletters, even from non-family. Actually, especially from non-family. I don't do Facebook so this is how I hear what's been going on.

I try to use correct names when I address the cards, but I don't mind that much when the cards come to the [Hubby's lastname] family, even though I didn't change my name.

We do the Christmas cards together, over beers. It is quite possible that some of the ones at the end get some strange messages written in them....

hush said...

We got our first 2011 Xmas card in the mail the day after Thanksgiving, postmarked 11/23. That's too soon methinks. I'm still digesting my turkey. But at least they got the names right on all counts. Woot!

@Claudia - Beautiful handmade cards are a DO in my book. Sadly, I lack the skillz to create such wonders myself, but I love getting those lovely cards, too.

@Paola - Yikes, your SIL ought to know your Actual Names by now!

@the milliner - Thanks for the well wishes, and I hope this year is better for you than this time last year was.

@Maria - The New Year's card trick sounds like a winner. These days, any written thank you note seems like it is the exception, so 'double duty' or not, that's a good thing IMHO. ;)

@Cloud - I love that you and your DH do cards together, over beers, and perhaps write strange messages in them = awesome!

Claudia said...

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