Sunday, December 19, 2010
Holiday E-Cards Are OK, But Please, Be Tasteful
By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
Dear Thelma: I am about to run out of time for Christmas cards. I send them every year and really feel like they are an important way to make contact — even once-a-year contact — with people in my life. I hate to miss it this year, but I know that I am not going to be able to make it happen. Would it be OK to send an e-mailed holiday greeting, or should I just forget about it for this year?
A: Done properly, an e-mailed holiday greeting to people who use e-mail regularly can be very gracious. For the communication to arrive with a fitting sentiment, you must mold a message that comes across as gracefully as a holiday card.
Think carefully about delivering the same content, quality and creativity by e-mail that would be contained in an envelope. Take care that your communication does not seem hurried or like a last-minute fix.
This can be a challenge, but if you are serious about spreading the joy of the season you should be able to accomplish it. Composed properly, the e-mail becomes a substitute for postage but not for the grace behind the greeting.
You should try to limit your e-mail greeting to people's personal e-mail addresses, rather than use their business addresses. And for those on your list with whom you don't communicate regularly by e-mail, you must opt for a card.
I really enjoy getting the mail at this time of year, when it's more likely that I'll come away from the mailbox with a colorful holiday envelope along with the bills and credit card offers. Because of that, I opt for the traditional card and enjoy being the one to add a pop of color into my friends' mailboxes. However, I wouldn't let your predicament stop me from spreading cheer and kindness any way I can.
Dear Thelma: Our family Christmas celebration this year will include some new guests — my daughter-in-law's aunt and her new husband coming in from out of town. I'm a little worried about making sure everyone has the celebration they're looking forward to. How do we go about honoring our own family traditions and still make our new guests feel comfortable on Christmas day?
A: I'm sure your new guests are honored to be invited to your home and are ready to participate in whatever you have planned. That's what being a guest is all about.
Rather than worrying about them, I would encourage you to include them in whatever you do, giving them the option to partake in as much as they desire. If you have a family gift drawing or a white elephant exchange, ask ahead of time if they'd like to take part. If you are going to church that morning before your celebration, tell them the time and place and let them know they are welcomed to join you. If everyone is bringing a dish, communicate that too and let them know what's needed. Even if they're coming in from out of town, they might like to pick something up or bring a favorite that travels well.
Opening your home during the holidays is a beautiful way to share the kindness and spirit of the season. Welcoming these new friends and introducing them to your traditions creates an intimate opportunity for sharing and building relationships that have the potential to carry on for years to come. Embrace the day and the opportunities that come with it.
Family, friends and good manners never go out of style.
Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.