Last night we posted a quick question to our Facebook fans, asking them how they handle the issue of addressing Christmas cards to families with more than one last name. We promised the “official” etiquette answer, but it has been eye opening and fascinating to see what fans feel is the correct answer.

We offered four different options to the situation where John Doe and Marie Smith live together. A) The Doe Family, B) The Doe-Smith Family, C) John Doe, Mary Smith & Family, and D) Other. Here’s how our fans felt the Christmas cards should be addressed.

Tiny Prints Facebook Fans Address Christmas Cards

Using John Doe, Mary Smith & Family was the overwhelming favorite since it gave equal importance to everyone in the family, but some of the people who voted “other” had amusing suggestions to make.

Three people opted for putting just the first names on the envelope, two people opted to combine the two names into one ( The Friedman/Appleman family because the FriedApples!), and one memorable person simply addressed the card to the family dog.

The general consensus among our fans seems to be that the holiday cards are the focus, not what’s on the envelope, but here’s our etiquette expert’s opinion in case you want to make sure you’re addressing your cards the right way.

Etiquette Expert Answer:

The most traditional and appropriate way to address your multi-last name Christmas cards would be to send it to “Mr John Doe, Mrs. Mary Smith & Family.” If you wanted to add the children’s names, you should put just the first names below the parent’s name. This is also true if the kids have different last names than either or both the parents.

If your envelope is starting to look a little cluttered at this point, you can opt to address the family as “The Doe-Smith Family.” Sorry ladies, traditionally the husband’s name comes first in this case.

Of course these are just traditional etiquette guidelines, your personal knowledge of a family might affect how you decide to address their card. The only think our etiquette expert stresses is that you might want to avoid addressing the cards to the family dog. It might offend the cat. And try to find at least one last name to put on the card, if only to make the mailman’s job easier.

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Category: Etiquette, Holidays, Things to Know, You Tell Us
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4 Responses

  1. eeka says:

    I think more modern etiquette would dictate putting the last names alphabetically (unless you’ve seen them refer to their hyphenated or slashinated family on their address labels or blog or whatnot, in which case I’d defer to the form that they use).

    Not all families are headed by male/female couples, and a rule that doesn’t work for all families is outdated and heterosexist, in my opinion.

  2. Char says:

    Since I have my hubby’s last name – Mr. & Mrs Smith & kids.

  3. Lori says:

    I think the envelope should be addressed the way the addressee prefers. I do not agree that the male last name must come first when hyphenated or slashinated.

  4. Lascungilli says:

    What about when you don’t know if the mom is using her maiden name again or what? Example
    Moms name started out when we met as mary smith. She has a daughter who goes by smith too. Then the mom and dad who I never met separate because the mom fell in love with another guy. Suddenly she starts using another name, say jones. And even has a baby by him. The daughter (my daughter is friends and in same grade as her) is extremely sensitive about all this and refuses to talk about it and cries so we can’t ask what the deal is. We never heard of a wedding having taken place. So we don’t know if the mom used to use her maiden name or married name and now is going by her maiden name.. Plus since the new guy and her are living together making four altogether, we also don’t know what the new guys last name is, not daring to ask. It’s so awkward. I keep telling myself got themselves into this situation so they shouldn’t get offended if people write the wrong name on envelopes. another family we know with kind of this same setup got really upset and wrote us a kind of nasty note when I goofed up and forgot to change her daughters last name in my contacts immediately. Of course they actually had a wedding. but nobody is perfect. Trying to keep up with all this is so confusing. Ugggggghhhhh. Sooo what do I do with this smith jones family???? Any one???? Sorry this is so long. And for the terrible grammar. I am so stresssssedddd haha

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