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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3 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.

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