I love all the photos and letters that arrive in the mailbox each holiday season. It’s wonderful to catch up with friends and family I rarely see, and the feel of glossy photo paper or cardstock seems extra thoughtful in the digital age.
Yet there’s always a small portion of season’s greetings that rub me the wrong way. I’m not talking about proofreading errors or future Awkward Family Photos. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
No, I’m referring to faux pas that show the sender doesn’t really know you or isn’t thinking about how they might affect others. Here are four ways people ruin Christmas cards and letters:
- Spelling the name wrong: Don’t negate your peace and goodwill before the recipient even gets a chance to see that cute Christmas photo or read about your year. Make a list and check it twice—for correct spellings of names. Yes, Minnesota makes it hard; you never know if that Scandinavian name ends with an –son or an –sen. But if you care about them enough to send a card, you should care enough to get the name right.
- Making assumptions about last names: My wife kept her last name when we got married two years ago. Our return address stamp includes both last names. We use our own last names on Facebook. Yet we still continue to receive mail from close relatives addressed to “James and Christa Warden” (or worse, “Mr. and Mrs. James Warden"). Different families have different preferences. Show you care by noting those preferences in your address book and sticking to them.
- Turning a holiday greeting into a novel: If I’ve been following you on Facebook, I don’t need a rehash of every twist and turn from the past year. If I haven’t, we’re not close enough for me to take an hour out of my day to pore over your journey through 2013. Don’t let trivia bury your highlights. Less is more.
- Using extra large cards: Everyone loves hanging up Christmas cards, but a refrigerator only has so much room. When cards get too big, they squeeze out those from other friends and family. Keep it small, and help those you care about show off as many of their loved ones as possible.
What do your friends and family do on Christmas cards and letters that irritates you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.