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card etiquette 101

Tips on what to say, when to send and who to send to. 

Who? What? When?
There was a time, pre-email, when people seemed to intuitively know how to send cards. But these days, in a society where soul mates meet in Internet chat rooms and lovers break-up by text messaging, cards seem more and more like a dying art form.

So for the benefit of the post-email generation and as a refresher for anyone who feels they need it, here are some basic tips and guidelines for handling some of the more common card-worthy occasions.

Keep in mind, these are only suggestions: there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cards. In the end, it's thought that counts; and if your heart's in the right place, you really can't go wrong.

As well, remember that sometimes the best reason to send a card is no particular reason at all.

In General
It's a good idea to keep a variety of cards on hand. Timing is key, so you want to make sure you've always got a card when you need one.

Thank-You Notes
Who: Whenever someone does something special, out of the ordinary or unexpected  (like a favour, dinner party, or job interview), send a thank-you card.

When: Try to send it within 24-hours. That way, you won't forget and the gesture will stay relevant.

What: Keep it short and sweet (two or three sentences) and adjust the formality of your tone to suit the recipient. Here's a sample format:

1. Start specifically with "Thank you for [gesture]."

2. Follow up with a brief, related sentence: for example, how much the gesture means to you.

3. Conclude by looking ahead to the future: what you plan to do with the gift, how you look forward to seeing them etc.

4. Sign-off with a closing that suits the context (love, sincerely, kind regards, all the best), seal it up and send it off!

Invitations
Who: Depends on the type of event.

When: If the event is formal, six to eight weeks beforehand. For more informal events, two to three weeks is fine.

What: Text will vary considerably depending on the invitation, but typically it will include:

1. An opening, usually a short phrase inviting guests to the event.

2. A description of the occasion or purpose of the event, for example, "A birthday party for Jennifer Carson."

3. The full name(s) of the host/hostess.

4. The full name of the honoree (birthday boy/girl, mother-to-be, retiree, bride-to-be etc.)

5. The date and time. If this is a formal event, avoid using abbreviations. Also, it is acceptable to specify an end time.

6. The location, including the name of the venue, street address and city. No need to include the province, unless you're expecting out of town guests, or postal code.

7. Other instructions, such as, specific things to bring, whether the party is a surprise, appropriate attire, etc.

8. An RSVP, which includes your name, phone number (or email address) and RSVP deadline date. Samples of RSVP lines include:

·    Please RSVP

·    RSVP at your convenience

·    Kindly reply to…

·    Regrets only (If you only want to hear from people who can't attend.)

 

Baby Shower Invitations
Who: Close friends and family of the mother-to-be. It's a good idea to ask her to finalize the list to make sure that no one's been forgotten. If it's not the first shower for the baby, it's okay to shorten the guest list (if necessary) by only inviting close friends, or guests who haven't been to previous showers.

When: Showers typically happen a month or two before the baby's due date. This gives the expectant mother time to take inventory of what she still needs to buy before the baby arrives. A "Welcoming Shower" can be thrown a few weeks after the baby is born to accommodate out-of-town relatives and guests who visit after the birth. Either way, invitations should typically be sent two to three weeks prior. If the guest list includes out-of-town guests, you may want to send the invitations out earlier.

What: (Please see INVITATIONS above.)

Birth Announcements
Who: Everyone who'll want to share in the exciting news.

When: As close to the birth as possible. Ideally no longer than 6 months afterwards.

What: Typically, birth announcements include:

1. An introduction, usually a short passage from a poem or popular phrase. Examples include:

·    Our home has grown by two feet.

·    We welcome with love…

·    It's a boy/girl

2. The baby's name (first and middle, or full)

3. Birth details including date, time, weight, length and place of birth.

4. The parent's names, followed by the names of the siblings. Feel free to add an adjective – proud, elated, sleep-deprived (kidding!).

Holiday Cards
Who: Holiday cards are a great way to stay in touch, especially with those you don't keep in touch with regularly. Typically cards are sent to all friends, neighbours, close business associates and family. Married couples can use their wedding guest list as a starting point.

When: Sometime between the last week of November and January 1st, ideally before the actual holiday begins.

What: Samples holiday verses include:

·    Season's Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year

·    From our home to yours, may your hearts be filled with joy this holiday season!

·    Glad tidings for a wonderful holiday season filled with joy and peace