Global Lingo Blog

Christmas card etiquette

If you are tempted to write to a client to sweeten the relationship, or pen a card to your colleague, boss, your pals or your family, then do so, but make sure you don’t offend rather than endear them in the process.

There’s a pile of Christmas cards sitting on my dining room table, waiting for an unscheduled, ounce of time, a rare glitch in the everyday punishing timetable, a morsel of ‘quick let’s make a run for it, and do something I want to do time’, a brief pause on the life button, a moment to notice an inhale of breath and watch the robin in the garden – that is the moment I have been searching in vain for, the perfect period between chaos and demand, the moment to grab a little sprinkling of festive cheer and not let it go, to turn pen to paper and scribe through the list of ‘must write to’, ‘haven’t seen for yonks’ ‘they gave me a card, so I should’,   that is what I have been looking for and failing to find. Surely it can’t be that hard to write a few Christmas cards, but you see it is, because I find it very hard to write, ‘Dear x, Love from’ – I want to write something personal.

This week I had two Christmas card horrors, one from ‘someone who shall not be mentioned’ who simply signed off their card and didn’t even put our names at the top, that part was just left blank, a white space staring out at me, illuminating the disregard the relative obviously felt for the whole process and their unattached emotion for whom they were sending it too. As the recipient, I similarly felt the same, thanks but no thanks. Please don’t send me a Christmas card when you can’t even write out my name on the top. I’d rather not have a Christmas card from you thanks.

The second card faux pas was from a company for whom my husband and I are the client, they manage an asset for us, a rental property. We deal with this small business regularly, exchanging emails about leaking showers, drafty door sealants and replacement carpets. It’s an ongoing, never ending dialogue. This has been a relationship of two years now, so I was cheered to see a card arrive through the post from them. They had even gone to the lengths of taking a photo of the team with festive jumpers on – ten points for that. I was feeling quite a high level of affection for this company, they had made a gargantuan effort to co-ordinate novelty reindeer pullies with penguin emblazoned roll necks – they even had a matching set of Santa hats on, representing their team cohesion and servitude to the Christmas cause.

You can imagine that my level of expectation was sky-high, so when I turned to look inside the card and saw they had written only to my husband and not myself, I was immediately flattened not flattered. A bulldozer had run over their Christmas parade because they failed to address the card to both of us. I can only deduce two reasons for this: firstly, the task of writing the card was delegated to the office junior who didn’t know better and the boss hadn’t informed them otherwise, or they thought they’d stop with the man of the house, my husband and, be done with it. I’d like to point out that we are joint owners of this property and jointly responsible for the minutiae of maintenance and administration related to it. Yet they had not recognised my part in the relationship and now I feel no festive cheer towards them. So much effort wiped out in one single Christmas card slip up.

So, my friends, those in HR, those in business, those around the world, please do one thing for me this Christmas, if you are sending a barrel load of client, colleague, family and friend cards make a decision to do it right. Get the names of your clients, your friends, their children, their partners right – add a little note if you can, ‘ great to see you at the office party,’ ‘hope we can see you in 2017’, ‘great to see photos of the children on Facebook,’ ‘glad you are keeping well’ – anything a little line to show you care and whatever you do, please do take the time to write out their names, all their names at the top and, send it on time, no-one likes a Christmas card that arrives after the event and goes directly into the recycling sack. It is the season to be jolly but it is also the season to show you care, otherwise quite frankly just don’t bother.

By Annie Hayes, HR freelance writer and expert.

Global Lingo supports Human Resource departments during grievance and disciplinary meetings and business restructurings. Working with Financial Institutions, Intergovernmental organisations and global Companies we provide specialist Minute-Takers for on-site or remote attendance delivering a detailed and accurate account of confidential and sensitive meetings.

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