Business Holiday Card Etiquette: A Guide to Professional Greetings

What Not to Do When Sending Business Holiday Cards

Holiday greeting cards for business clients, partners, and anyone else who has supported your company throughout the year can help you show your appreciation and make your company stand out in people’s minds. However, following proper business holiday card etiquette is essential, as a lot of businesses tend to make mistakes that can quickly cancel out the positive effects of their holiday greeting messages.

Be sure the holiday card exchange works for your business, not against it. Here are some tips you can use when it comes time to send business holiday cards.

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Why Send Business Holiday Cards?

business holiday card etiquette - business holiday card and gift from Small Business Trends

In the corporate landscape, building and nurturing relationships is paramount. One enduring and heartfelt way to show appreciation and maintain connections is by sending holiday cards. But why is this age-old tradition still relevant in today’s fast-paced business world? Here are the compelling reasons:

  • Strengthen Business Relationships: Sending a holiday card demonstrates that you value your association with clients, partners, and collaborators. It’s a gesture that fosters goodwill and keeps your business top-of-mind.
  • Personal Touch in a Digital Age: In a world dominated by emails and instant messages, a physical card stands out. It adds a personal touch, showing that you took the extra effort to acknowledge the recipient.

business holiday card etiquette - brand recall person working on a PC on it

  • Brand Recall: Customized holiday cards, especially those reflecting your brand or company values, can reinforce brand identity and keep your business memorable amidst the multitude of seasonal greetings.
  • Opportunity to Express Gratitude: The holiday season is synonymous with gratitude. Sending a card is an opportune moment to thank clients and partners for their trust, collaboration, and continued support throughout the year.
  • Sets a Positive Tone for the Upcoming Year: A well-wishing holiday card can set a positive precedent for future interactions, fostering optimism and enthusiasm for potential collaborations in the year ahead.

When Sending Business Holiday Cards

Navigating the holiday season in the business world requires a mix of thoughtfulness and professionalism.

Sending holiday cards to your business associates is a traditional way to express gratitude and maintain relationships, but it’s essential to get it right. From timing to the message, several nuances can make or break your gesture.

Here are the dos and don’ts to keep in mind when sending business holiday cards.

sending business holiday cards


Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

sending business holiday cards

Sending holiday cards late can cause your business to look a bit unprofessional. Avoid procrastinating when purchasing or sending your holiday greetings, plan ahead. Create a schedule that includes all the holiday tasks you need to accomplish so you don’t fall behind. Additionally, you may be able to get a better deal when purchasing your business holiday cards if you do so early in the year.

Don’t Misspell Words & Names

business holiday card etiquette - misspelled Hannukkah Card

All the good that a heartfelt holiday message can do is going to be negated if you can’t even spell the recipient’s name properly. Avoid major missteps by double checking names and using spell check for the rest.

Don’t Send Them to the Wrong Location

For partners and B2B clients who you’re sending holiday cards to, it’s usually best to send them to their business addresses instead of their homes. Double check those addresses and ask if you don’t have them or aren’t sure. You don’t want anyone getting left out because you had the wrong information.

Don’t Forget Support Staff

Many of the clients to whom you’re sending business holiday cards probably have assistants or receptionists. If there are any of these staff members whom you interact with regularly, send them a card too. They’re probably going to end up dealing with the card you’re sending their boss, so you don’t want them to feel left out.

Don’t Include a Sales Pitch

The holidays aren’t a time for over-the-top selling. A simple greeting and heartfelt message are enough to let clients know how much they mean to your business and to keep you top of mind the next time they need your product or service. Don’t muddy the message by trying to sell something in your happy holidays cards for business clients.

Don’t Use Impersonal Holiday Greeting Messages

It’s fine to keep your business holiday cards fairly general. But they shouldn’t feel completely generic and impersonal. Include a message that’s actually relevant to each person on your list, make sure their name and business is included, and double check all the details so there isn’t anything that’s totally irrelevant in their card.

Don’t Overlook the Value of a Handwritten Card

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A handwritten message can seem much more personal and special than something printed. It may not be possible for you to write out every message by hand. But you should try to at least sign them so recipients know you really took the time to personalize every message.

Don’t Send Generic Greeting Cards

sending business holiday cards

Your holiday cards give your business the opportunity to really stand out in the minds of your clients. You’re not going to achieve that desired goal if your cards look like everyone else’s. Instead, use custom business holiday cards or something that’s eye catching and specific to your business. This will help recipients actually remember that you sent them a holiday card. And they might even display it in their office.

Consider Environmental Impact

With increasing awareness about sustainability and environmental concerns, consider opting for eco-friendly cards. Cards made of recycled materials or e-cards can be a good choice. Not only are they environmentally friendly, but they also show that your business is responsible and committed to sustainability.

Remember International Clients

business holiday card etiquette - ramadan card

If your business has clients across borders, be mindful of their cultural nuances and holiday practices. Not every country celebrates the same holidays in the same way. Adjust your message accordingly to ensure it resonates with them and does not seem out of place. This showcases your business’s sensitivity and respect for diverse cultures.

Engage Your Team

Incorporate messages or signatures from your team members, especially if your client has interacted with multiple members during the year. It makes your business feel more human and showcases a team effort.

Don’t Make Assumptions

Unless you have a very small and specific list of clients on your card list, you probably don’t know exactly how everyone does or does not celebrate the season. It’s best to avoid any overt religious symbols or messages that might make people uncomfortable and instead include general and inclusive happy holidays cards for business clients.

Evaluate the Need Every Year

business holiday card etiquette - charitable gifts

While holiday cards can be a beautiful gesture, it’s also okay to evaluate the need for them each year. Sometimes, other forms of appreciation, such as charitable donations in the name of your clients or a unique gift, might be more fitting.

Don’t Feel Like You Can Only Send Cards at Christmas

sending business holiday cards

Holiday cards for business use aren’t the only way you can share greetings with clients. If you don’t want to make any assumptions about how people celebrate the holidays, consider sending new year’s greetings instead. You could also choose another holiday throughout the year so your greetings won’t have as much competition.

Understanding the Importance of Business Holiday Cards

In the world of business, sending holiday cards is more than a tradition—it’s a strategic way to strengthen relationships and leave a lasting impression. These cards are an opportunity to express gratitude and show your clients, partners, and supporters that they are valued and remembered.

Selecting the Right Card and Message

Choosing a holiday card for your business associates requires a careful balance between professionalism and personal touch. The key is to select a design and message that resonate with your brand while being respectful and inclusive of various cultural backgrounds and holiday practices.

Timing is Key

Timing your holiday card delivery is crucial. Sending them too late can come off as an afterthought, while too early might get lost in the pre-holiday hustle. Aim for a sweet spot where your card arrives close enough to the holidays to be relevant but not so late that it seems like a last-minute gesture.

Personalization Makes a Difference

While it may be tempting to send a generic holiday greeting, adding a personal touch can significantly enhance the impact of your card. Personalization shows that you’ve put thought into your message, making it more likely to be remembered and appreciated.

Avoiding Sales Pitches

The holiday season is a time for genuine goodwill, not overt selling. Keep your holiday cards free of sales pitches or promotional messages. This time should be about nurturing relationships, not pushing products or services.

Consider Eco-Friendly Options

With growing awareness of environmental issues, consider sending eco-friendly holiday cards. Options like recycled paper cards or digital greetings not only reduce your carbon footprint but also demonstrate your commitment to sustainability.

Respecting Cultural Sensitivities

If your business circle includes international clients or those from diverse cultural backgrounds, it’s important to choose holiday cards that are culturally sensitive and inclusive. This can mean selecting more general seasonal greetings or tailoring messages to specific cultural celebrations.

Regular Re-evaluation

Each year, assess whether sending holiday cards aligns with your current business strategy and client relationships. As your business evolves, so too might the way you express your gratitude and well wishes during the holiday season.

Embracing Non-Traditional Timings

If you’re concerned about your holiday card getting lost in the shuffle, consider sending your greetings at a less traditional time. A New Year’s card, for example, can stand out and is an excellent way to start the year on a positive note.

The Do’s and Dont’s of Sending Business Holiday Cards Summary

Plan and send cards early in the season.Wait until the last minute to send cards.
Double-check names and spellings.Misspell recipients' names.
Send cards to business addresses by default.Send cards to the wrong location or inappropriate addresses.
Include support staff and regular contacts.Forget to acknowledge support staff or key contacts.
Opt for eco-friendly or e-cards for sustainability.Send generic greeting cards that lack uniqueness.
Consider international clients and adjust messages.Make assumptions about clients' holiday practices or religious affiliations.
Engage your team in the card-sending process.Include sales pitches or overt promotions in holiday greetings.
Evaluate the gesture's relevance each year.Stick to only Christmas; consider New Year’s or other holidays for greetings.
Ensure personal and relevant messages.Use generic and impersonal holiday messages.
Emphasize the handwritten touch where possible.Overlook the significance of a handwritten or personally signed message.

The Breakdown

As you can see, sending holiday greeting cards for business clients, partners, and other supporters throughout the year is a time-honored tradition that offers an opportunity to express gratitude and keep your company at the forefront of people’s minds. Following proper business holiday card etiquette is not just a formality; it’s an essential part of ensuring that this gesture enhances your business relationships rather than undermines them.

Key takeaways include:

  • Strengthen Business Relationships: Thoughtful cards foster goodwill.
  • Personal Touch in a Digital Age: Physical cards stand out and show extra effort.
  • Brand Recall: Customized cards can reinforce brand identity.
  • Consider Environmental Impact: Opt for eco-friendly cards to show responsibility.
  • Remember International Clients: Respect diverse cultures and holiday practices.
  • Evaluate the Need Every Year: Consider other forms of appreciation if more fitting.
  • Don’t Overlook Details: Timing, spelling, personalization, and environmental impact all matter.

The Art of Sending Business Holiday Cards

Sending business holiday cards is an art that combines professionalism with personal touch. By following these etiquette tips, you ensure that your holiday greetings enhance your business relationships, reflect your brand’s values, and leave a positive impression that lasts well into the new year.


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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.