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Christmas Card Etiquette

  • 13-11-2021 6:46pm
    Registered Users Posts: 10,405 ✭✭✭✭ recode the site

    It’s that time of year. I’m writing the cards, ready to fire off once the time comes. I send a fair amount of cards (abt 50) so it takes a bit of execution.

    From early on in my life (about age 12) I was the one tasked in my little family (just parents & self) to write the cards, working from my mother’s address book, which she kept from her teens. My parents had a lot of contacts, including my father’s business contacts, and my job was to convince them he had written them himself and had to adapt my handwriting style to forwards slanting for “his” cards. My mother had garlanded upright writing, totally different, so I emulated that for cards purporting to have been written by her.

    Now I still have that old address book as a keepsake, but of course I work from my own online list. My parents are long deceased, my mother in 2009, but there are still a handful of their younger friends still hanging in by a thread, and for old time’s sake I send a card. But I’m order not to waste the effort I do a quick check on 😂

    I keep notes of who to include on cards. Individuals living alone are straightforward enough, but married/partnered people can be a landmine if they are separated since and there is no directory to look up this information. 🤔 I have got back a card or two with a note “we are not together any more”.

    Often “and family” covers all the bases if there’s children, grandchildren, and a few others whose names you have forgotten. The worst thing I have done in previous times is to get the offspring of recipients mixed up, have even got a partner mixed up once. Embarrassing.

    So it’s quite the checklist:

    • Are they still alive?
    • Who else is safe to include on the card?
    • How to sound inclusive if you’ve completely forgotten the names of their other family members.

    I’m telling you it’s quicksand territory. Have I left out any pitfalls there?




  • Registered Users Posts: 6,283 ✭✭✭ TRS30

    Sounds like a lovely tradition that you have kept going and I'm sure your parents are very proud that you have continued to do this. I would also suspects that the recipients feel the same. I wouldn't worry too much about getting the odd thing wrong or not knowing that people have split up, passed away etc. It sounds like you already do as much 'research' as is possible.

    Every year we (wife & I) have the debate around sending cards to people who don't send one back. Every year we send one anyway.

    Sending Christmas cards is something that you do because you want to and people appreciate receiving them, even with the odd mix up!

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,218 ✭✭✭ DvB

    I admire the fact you carry on sending cards @TRS30

    we decided a couple of years back to stop posting cards to anyone based here in Dublin. We now only send them to family & friends based overseas. We had a few years of going to the effort to write & post cards to our friends here but over time were getting fewer & fewer in return, with emails, texts & whatsapp messages slowly taking their place, we eventually decided to knock it on the head and save ourselves the bother (it culminated when a few couples actually asked us on a night out not to bother as they tended to bin them anyway) We still write cards to family but hand deliver them now instead of posting.

    I must admit its a tradition I miss as I used to love the strings of cards every year we'd receive. Unfortunately the newer generations appear to not have embraced it and its slowly dying out. I would have continued like yourselves but being told they were being read & binned a few minutes later made up our minds for us.

    "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year" - Charles Dickens

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,283 ✭✭✭ TRS30

    It's a tradition, similar to recode, that I inherited from my parents. Down to initially using their address book till we got our own. It's sad to hear that someone would bin a card after opening it, no different to junk mail!! Maybe some of the one we send meet the same fate however they were sent with good intentions. Similarly we would hand deliver local one and only post to abroad or 'down the country'. Hanging the cards on on strings in the hall with snowman pegs is one of the traditions as eldest elf like to hang them. I see them as a Christmas decoration and would miss them if they weren't there.

    Post edited by TRS30 on

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,405 ✭✭✭✭ recode the site

    Even some people who don’t traditionally send them appreciate receiving them. I have a relative who just sends an email circular simply because through her past work it would be a diplomatic nightmare for her to miss anyone out, she would end up having to send literally hundreds of cards and wouldn’t have the time, energy or spare money to do that.

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,405 ✭✭✭✭ recode the site

    I designed and got printed my own cards this year so am a little extra enthusiastic about sending them. I was mighty pleased about how they turned out and might even market the design at some point. It’s an Antarctica scene, a little painting inspired by photos I took from an epic trip there in 2017. Snowy mountains in background, water and ice and a penguin in foreground. Neutral enough to send to people of any culture and without mentioning “Christmas” on the front.

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  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 11,083 Mod ✭✭✭✭ miamee

    I still write and post a lot of cards but would know each recipient at least well enough to know their partner's and children's names (if any). I still write 'and family' to my aunts & uncles to cover their children and grandchildren. Saves me writing all of the names, lol. I love the ide of sending them and I love receiving them too however I often find the actual writing of them a bit dull. If I start a bit early this year, I can just do them in bunches of 4 or 5 at a go instead of doing the whole lot together. Similar to the rest of you I have people I debate sending a card to every year because I'm not really in tough with them or they never send me one but I always end up sending one 😊

  • Registered Users Posts: 713 ✭✭✭ cnoc

    On a side note, do people think it is okay for me to send Christmas cards this year: my brother died 3 weeks ago? TIA.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,007 ✭✭✭ Sunny Dayz

    Aww it's lovely to read that you keep the tradition going and the lovely story behind it.

    We send Christmas cards - just to our immediate family and close friends. It was lovely when our child use to do up a design in school to be printed, I think so much of it went back to the school and we would buy a few packs to send out (and show off his picture!). We are past that stage with him but our niblings and friends kids are at that stage now.

    We also send a card to one neighbour, the rest of us don't bother giving cards even though we all get on very well. This neighbour isn't Irish and always gets my husband's name wrong - he's a standard common English name but she calls him a very popular Irish name (which isn't even the Irish for his name). She gets the rest of us correct, I've an uncommon name, the kid has an Irish name and gets both of them spot on! But it puts a smile on our face.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Motoring & Transport Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 61,803 Mod ✭✭✭✭ L1011

    I've what I think is a smallish list - about 15, many don't send back but if we all worked on that basis everyone would just stop.

    As I mentioned on the childhood memories thread, we used to get hundreds when I was a kid so it's something I want to keep going

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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,218 ✭✭✭ DvB

    Fair play to you all, I admire your willingness to keep the tradition alive.

    "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year" - Charles Dickens

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,283 ✭✭✭ TRS30

    That is a tough one and definitely a personal decision. Maybe send them with some note or reference to him? I guess it depends on the circumstances as well.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,037 ✭✭✭ CheerLouth

    I love Christmas Cards...I'm waiting on mine arriving so that I can write them up. We normally just do close family and friends but I do post them. I never thought of someone reading them and binning them immediately 😭 I keep ours up (on a string like @TRS30) and then when I take them down, I put them into the arts & crafts box for the kids to cut up during the year and glue into collages...they will literally knock hours out of that activity 😀

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,283 ✭✭✭ TRS30

    We do the same with cards that have something different on them as the kids can use them to make decorations, homemade cards etc for future years.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,753 ✭✭✭ SarahLil

    We send a good few cards, friends and family by post and neighbours hand delivered

    I never thought someone would bin them straight away, I put them up and keep them then for my pal she works with special needs and they always use them for crafts they do make beautiful pieces from bits of cards

    I like to buy special friends etc for my close pals, good neighbours to really good neighbours I have, etc I like those kind of cards

    I also like to post god daughter godson in the post and to my friends children too as I remember growing up a neighbour would always address the card to me and send by post it made feel so grown up getting a card in the letterbox when he passed away his daughter continued the tradition

    I picked up some cards the weekend just need some more regular cards and cards for family in NYC and close pals in Portugal

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,753 ✭✭✭ SarahLil

    It’s up to you really, I hope you and your family are doing ok

    I don’t know if it’s a North Dublin thing but where I am from you don’t the first Christmas you have a bereavement but people still send them to you

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,218 ✭✭✭ DvB

    FTR we were equally shocked when told that these couples binned cards, they said they simply didn't have room for them and with no kids had no reason to keep them.

    We also put what ones we receive up on string (we have little pegs for them too) but they are far smaller in number now than we used to receive even 2 or 3 years ago. We use the old ones cut up as gift tags for presents (handy tip I got on here a few years ago)

    "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year" - Charles Dickens

  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional East Moderators Posts: 11,083 Mod ✭✭✭✭ miamee

    We don't have kids either but I love putting up the Christmas cards on the mantelpiece and then on shelves/cabinets in the living room - we don't get enough for strings of them, lol. I love receiving Christmas cards!

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,746 Mod ✭✭✭✭ HildaOgdenx

    Really sorry to hear that. It's entirely your own decision. A friend of mine has been bereaved recently. I will send a card, will pick it carefully and will write a note as well.

    I won't expect a card from her, but as I said, it would be completely up to everyone to decide for themselves. I hope that you are doing okay. Mind yourself.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 3,746 Mod ✭✭✭✭ HildaOgdenx

    Same here, love receiving them, love sending them.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,405 ✭✭✭✭ recode the site

    I’m in an apartment without a mantelpiece, but I get to hang my cards between various points, as well as on open display shelves.

    Post edited by recode the site on

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,753 ✭✭✭ SarahLil

    After all the Christmas card chatter here I bought extra cards yesterday 🎄

    Going to try get them written early this year

  • Posts: 0 ✭✭ George Uptight Peanut

    I love sending and receiving them too (as with letters and cards) - I lived abroad for years in the late 90s and getting letters from home was such a joy that the postbox clinking in the morning is still a huge deal for me. As I get older there's few of the special cards to buy, you know Mum, Dad, Grandma etc. but I still take ages picking out which cards to buy and then making my (much shorter) address list. There's a few who don't return them but I still send them anyway.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,024 ✭✭✭ Caranica

    I've just spent 60 euro on stamps and that's before I've bought a single card. The international ones are so expensive!!

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,218 ✭✭✭ DvB

    I hear you.

    As our cards are mostly for overseas its never cheap paying the postage. Think we spent around that last year, not sure what this years will be though as we've ant extra couple this year.

    "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year" - Charles Dickens

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,283 ✭✭✭ TRS30

    As I mentioned earlier, sending cards now is becoming a bit of a luxury due to the postage costs. Similarly have a good few outside Ireland so cost seems to go up every year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,557 ✭✭✭ tscul32

    Years ago we had plenty of overseas cards to send but over the years the elderly relatives have passed away and most of the friends have moved back home. So mostly national stamps for us. I still send cards to the family and send individual ones to my nieces and nephew, andctoba few friends too. If we're seeing any of them in the run up we just exchange them, without forking out for postage. Like others here we put them out on display as decorations, but as the kids are mostly past the arts and crafts stage, they do get binned in January.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,557 ✭✭✭ tscul32

    I'm not sure about the whole bereavement "etiquette". We lost MIL in May. I hadn't even thought of not sending cards, I'd still like to wish people a Happy Christmas. I'll ask my husband if he wants to abstain this year, but he's not really an "etiquette" person so I'd say we'll still send them. SIL on the other hand, I'd be surprised if she sends any.

    I still send cards to those who have been bereaved, but go for "thinking of you this Christmas" cards rather than "Happy Christmas" ones.

  • Registered Users Posts: 229 ✭✭ bocaman

    I think its a lovely gesture to send or receive a Christmas card. A few years back I stopped sending cards to people who'd stopped sending me cards. Why bother. I still send cards and receive them from some people I've not seen or talked to in years. I suppose its tradition. The idea of binning Christmas cards though seems very odd.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 10,405 ✭✭✭✭ recode the site

    Binning cards is weird to me, unless you are paranoid about visitors examining the insides of the cards to see who’s sending them to you, or you are living a double life 😂