Etiquette at Work

Be thoughtful about holiday greetings cards

At last week’s staff meeting at Emily Post, holiday greeting cards were on the agenda. Each year, inevitably, someone asks about e-cards as opposed to traditional mailed cards.

Equally inevitably, we determine that for Emily Post traditional cards are the right choice. The biggest argument in favor of an e-card is ecological — no trees used and no carbon footprint in the delivery. Good reasons for sure, but somehow a virtual holiday card doesn’t have the same presence. When we see traditional cards displayed in the office, each of those clients, vendors, and friends is called to mind. We also appreciate receiving mail that’s not junk mail or a bill.

That said, e-cards are here to stay, and companies are electing to go with them. Better that than sending no card at all. The following tips that apply to traditional cards also apply to e-cards:


Be careful in building your list, and make sure your contacts are current. Ask yourself if each person is still a valued client, prospect, supplier, or friend of the company.

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Check your addresses carefully. While you’ve done your due diligence maintaining your database, this is a good time to double check it for accuracy.

If you’re asked to provide names of those to whom you want the company to send a card, be sure to get names and pertinent information to the organizer as soon as possible. That person’s job is difficult enough without having to repeatedly remind people to submit their lists.

Holiday cards are an opportunity to reach out to people associated with your business. They are a friendly, relationship-building gesture. They aren’t a vehicle for selling products and services, so keep marketing and sales messages out of them.

The people to whom you are sending cards may well come from different ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. Be careful of including a message that contains religious overtones.


You may find yourself wanting to send cards individually to colleagues. In that case, make your list first. If it’s a large list, ask yourself if you have the time and budget to do it yourself.

If you are sending cards to colleagues at work, send them to their homes. By sending them to the homes, you avoid any hard feelings of people who aren’t getting them.

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