Whether you’ve been sending cards for 40 years or are mailing your first batch this season, there’s one important thing to know: how annoying it is when someone makes a grammatical error, or, worse, spells your name wrong in a holiday greeting. Here’s our list of quick tips to make sure you address your cards perfectly this year.
Tip No. 1
When pluralizing your last name, don’t use an apostrophe.
Incorrect: “Merry Christmas from the Johnson’s!”
Correct: “Merry Christmas from the Johnsons!”
However, when making your name possessive, you need one.
Incorrect: “The party is at the Johnsons house.”
Correct: “The party is at the Johnsons’ house.”
Tip No. 2
To make plural a last name that ends in “s,” add “es.” (The same applies for last names that end with “z.”) With last names that end in “y,” just add “s,” not “ies.”
Incorrect: “Best wishes from the Peterss and the Yancies!”
Correct: “Best wishes from the Peterses and the Yanceys!”
This often can make for some not-so-pretty spellings. If that bugs you, stick with something like “Best wishes from the Jones family.”
Tip No. 3
It’s “Season’s Greetings,” not “Seasons Greetings.” And “Happy New Year,” not “Happy New Year’s.” But capitalize New Year only in reference to the actual holiday — when mentioning things that will happen during the next year, keep it lowercase. “Timmy will continue his piano lessons in the new year.”
Tip No. 4
Pay attention to titles. Use “Mr.” or “Ms.” if you’re not close to the recipient. When addressing a card to a married couple, use “Mr. and Mrs. John Doe.” If the recipients don’t have the same last name, go with “Mr. John Smith and Ms. Jane Doe.” Use professional titles for any doctors, clergy, or elected officials to whom you may be writing: “Sen. John Doe and Dr. Jane Doe” or “The Rev. John Smith and Dr. Jane Doe.”
Tip No. 5
Make sure that you have all of the contact information you need before you sit down to address those envelopes. Be prepared to waste some envelopes. Use a small sponge to dampen the envelope flaps. (We’ve all seen that Seinfeld episode.) And if you’re still unsure about grammar and spelling, there’s always Google.