Metro-East Living

Etiquette: Combination card is better than none

Q: Next year, I would like to design a combination Thanksgiving and Christmas greeting card and mail them a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. I was discussing my idea with some of my family at Thanksgiving and got mixed responses and weird looks.

I am in the retail business and my life is crazy during the holidays, so unless I address all my cards in July, I don’t send any Christmas cards at all. From an etiquette perspective, is there anything improper about sending a combination card like this?

A: A greeting card is a greeting card, whether it provides wishes for one event or two. Individuals who write occasional letters rather than send a greeting card, often extend best wishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same letter. Companies who are in the greeting card business would probably not like the idea. However, your idea makes sense. Furthermore, stores start stocking their shelves with Christmas items already in August or September, with a bit of Thanksgiving thrown in for a week or two in early November. The two holidays are already basically combined to a large extent with Christmas “door busters” even on Thanksgiving Day.

The bottom line is this: I would rather receive a combination Thanksgiving and Christmas greeting card from a friend or relative with a short note inside, than not receive one at all.

Q: Our parents were married several days before Christmas and this year will be a milestone anniversary for them. We kids have decided to have a little open house celebration for them and invite family and friends. It is going to be at my house. We are about to mail out some informal flyer invitations, but I have an etiquette question for you first.

I recently had an invitation to a Christmas party and in lieu of a hostess gift, an unwrapped child’s toy was requested for Toys for Tots. Since our parents don’t want any gifts, could we ask this of our guests also?

A: It is a wonderful idea. However, it is not proper to put the request in writing on an invitation, whether it is a flyer or a more formal printed invitation. The proper method of “suggesting” this type of gift in lieu of an anniversary gift is to do so verbally or by word of mouth through the family members. Even then, it must be done very discreetly and indirectly because you should never assume or give the impression any kind of gift is expected when extending an invitation for any event.

If an invitee asks for a recommendation for a gift, then the response can be: “Our parents are not expecting gifts. Having you join is this anniversary celebration for them is the best gift you could ever give them. However, if you feel you must bring a gift, we suggest an unwrapped toy which my parents will then give to a needy child.”