Christmas Cards courtesy

Keep greetings secular and personal to avoid seasonal etiquette pitfalls

There are Christmas cards to send your mother, your son, your uncle overseas, your friends. You know all those will be appreciated. But sending a card to a business associate could blow up in your face.

The card sending season is full of potential etiquette pitfalls. What I hear from business associates is that they are trying to send out a goodwill gesture. The last thing a business is trying to do is to have that backfire on them. Perhaps that’s why more businesses are opting to send “religion-neutral” holiday cards.

Some etiquette experts, agree with taking a secular approach to holiday greetings. They also advise making a list and checking it twice, lest any important client be left off. But no matter how long that list is, you can’t take the easy way out and send an e-mail. Even if it makes it through the spam filters, an e-card is a poor substitute for the real thing.

With all the potential pitfalls, why do an estimated 50 percent to 60 percent of businesses even bother sending holiday greetings? Well, it’s all about strengthening the business relationship. The time and money spent are considered an investment in their business.

Here’s some tips from the experts >

* Keep it personal. Your card shouldn’t look as if it came off an assembly line. Sign the card by hand and include a short and professional note.

* Keep it simple. Keep messages brief and secular unless you are certain of the recipient’s religious faith.

* Separate home and work. If you are friends with a co-worker or associate, the card should go to the home, not office. Keep the wall between the two.

* Spell-check. Take the extra step to verify how recipients’ names are spelled.

* Show respect. When addressing the envelope, always use titles, such as Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., and so on.

* Lose the labels. Hand-address your envelopes.

* Stamp it. Mail holiday greeting cards first class so they don’t look like part of a mass mailing.

* Display the cards you receive. Displaying them is a really nice thing to do, and if the sender visits your office during the holiday, it makes him or her feel good, too.

* It’s never too late. While most people send business greetings between December 10 and 15, it is entirely appropriate to send a New Year’s greeting card.