7 Etiquette Tips for Sending Holiday Cards to Business Associates Sending holiday cards to clients and business associates is an important recognition of the relationship but there is a lot you can get wrong.

By Jacqueline Whitmore

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the joys of the holiday season is the arrival of holiday cards. Opening these greetings of all sizes, colors and shapes brightens any business day, and it's the perfect way to say "thank you" for your business for the year, or give a personal greeting that helps solidify a business relationship.

There's no reason to dread the task of sending cards if you get started now. Use these tips to help.

1. Don't wait.

Be sure to order your holiday cards early. This way you'll receive them in plenty of time to address and send without rushing. Don't wait until the last minute to send your holiday cards. If you do, you'll feel harried and your recipients may not get them in time to enjoy them.

Mail cards just after Thanksgiving, by the first week in December. Otherwise, you may want to consider sending a "Happy New Year" card instead.

Related: The 10 Weirdest Office Holiday Gifts

2. Choose a quality card.

Don't pick the least expensive option. Your card is a reflection of how much you care about and value your clients and colleagues, so be sure to send the very best. Never substitute email or social media for a card you sign and mail. It's convenient but not as personal or heartfelt as addressing, stamping and mailing a physical card…or as fun to receive. Many cards are posted throughout the office during the holiday season, and bring a sense of joy and remembrance over and over again. Make the effort to send a physical card.

3. Don't inadvertently offend the recipient.

Be sensitive to other people's religious beliefs and senses of humor. For business cards, choose a design that is secular, subdued and tasteful. Save the cards that express your personality or beliefs for your personal list. Be sensitive to the message as well. If you're not sure if your audience celebrates Christmas, choose a more generic greeting, such as "Happy Holidays."

4. Custom-print your name and hand-address the envelopes.

If you order ahead, you'll have time for the supplier to custom-print your name and your business name on your card for a professional look. But always sign the card in your own handwriting for that personal touch.

As soon as you receive your card shipment, begin writing out the envelopes by hand, addressed to the business. Do not use pre-printed labels, however convenient they may be. If you don't have time to hand-address the envelopes, hire someone who does, or ask a friend or family member to help.

When addressing your envelopes, use personal titles like "Mr.", "Ms." or "Dr.". For business correspondence, the use of "Ms." is considered proper. Make sure you have the current business address for each recipient, then make it a point to refresh your mailing list.

Related: Smart Ways to Send Business Gifts This Season

6. Purchase holiday stamps.

Forgo the postage meter and dress up the envelopes in a festive way with holiday stamps. It adds one more personal touch to your cards.

7. Write a personal message.

Even though you've had your name and company name gold-embossed on the interior of the card, write a few sentences. Offer thanks for a wonderful relationship, give a heartfelt holiday greeting or wish for the New Year, or add a relevant anecdote. Sending a card without a personal note can come across as more mandatory than celebratory. If you have a new address or contact information, include your latest business card into the envelope.

Keep the tradition alive. A holiday card is a small, yet effective way to stand out, keep in touch, and show your appreciation to others.

Related: Holiday Tipping Guide: Whom to Tip and How Much

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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