An etiquette expert shares some important advice.

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Credit: Courtesy of Ferme À Papier

If it's your first holiday season as Mr. and Mrs. then there are a lot of logistics to figure out. Who cooks, what to buy, where to go…the list goes on. If you're not sure whether or not to mark the season with holiday cards, we've got you covered. We consulted Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert, author of Modern Etiquette for a Better Life, and founder of The Protocol School of Texas,to help sort out the ultimate dos and don'ts for sending them out in style.

Do: Send them early.

Being prompt is etiquette advice suited for far more than a holiday card-but it applies just as strongly here. To ensure your greeting makes it in time, Gottsman advises getting cards ready over the Thanksgiving season and mailing them out the first working day after the holiday.

Don't: Pull double duty.

Using a holiday card as a thank-you note or a wedding announcement is not the way to go. At best, it seems as though you're trying to save on stamps; at worst, in the case of an announcement, it could come off like you're asking for gifts.

Do: Get personal.

While it may be tempting to simply sign your new name a few hundred times, you must overcome. "Make a point of writing something specifically related to each person you are sending a card out to," Gottsman insists. "How is Jonnie enjoying her first year of college?" or "Are you enjoying your new job?" are small touches that show you are thinking about them."

Don't: Brag.

"A quick overview of your year is a fun way to keep friends and family abreast of your new life," says Gottsman. "Droning on and on in a holiday card about how happy you are and how your life has changed dramatically for the better can easily come across as conceited."

Do: Include a picture.

"If you were married within the year, it's fine to send a photo of a special day in your life," says Gottsman. Additionally, if your family has expanded thanks to a baby (furry or otherwise), she adds that this is exciting news worth sharing with friends and family. Including a photo also helps address another important detail: married/maiden name confusion. Anyone who may not know you changed your name will get to see your smiling face and make the connection.

Don't: Worry about the design.

"Most people will be excited to receive a holiday card from you and your new spouse," offers Gottsman. "They are not judging your handwriting or your taste in holiday greetings. As long as your card is thoughtful, you will make someone's day by remembering them this season."

Do: Figure out the ground rules.

This applies to both how many cards will be written and who will do the writing. "It's important to know the tastes and preferences of particular family members," explains Gottsman. "For example, receiving a card with your handwriting may be offensive to your husband's great aunt who looks forward to hearing from your spouse once a year." Whatever ground rules you decide, stick to it until all the cards are done.


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