You’re addressing your holiday cards wrong. Here’s how it’s done.
Corrections and clarifications: An earlier version of this story did not account for the plural possessive of the Smith family. It should be Smiths’ holiday party.
Don't get caught wishing someone Happy New Year's. Holiday cards can be trickier than they seem. Aside from tracking down mailing addresses, there's grammar and etiquette to worry about.
Here's what you should know before sticking stamps on those envelopes:
Write the address in all capital letters
Addresses should be printed in all capital letters, according to the US Postal Service. This is to ensure your cards arrive at the correct addresses.
Miss or Ms. or Mrs.?
Miss is an unmarried woman or young girl under the age of 18. Mrs. is a married woman. Ms. can be used for any woman, no matter her marital status.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette and modern manners expert, said always opt for formal titles.
That's Mrs., Ms., Miss and Mr. Traditional addresses for married couples use a man's first and last name: Mr. and Mrs. John Kelly. But, it's also 2017. So, per Emily Post guidelines, including the woman's name is acceptable, and a woman's name can go before a man's.
For unmarried couples, use her maiden name, such as Mr. John Smith and Ms. Mary Williams, Schweitzer, who's mailed 1,000 holiday cards this year, said. Divorced women have the option of using their ex-husband's last name or using their maiden name. A legal name would take precedent. Widowed women can still be addressed with the late husband's name (Mrs. John Smith) or using a Mrs. or Ms. in front of the woman's name (Mrs. or Ms. Jane Smith) — ask the recipient's preference, Schweitzer said.
For married women keeping their maiden name, use her first name and maiden name and her spouse’s first and last name. Emily Post advises using Ms. in this case. For women who are engaged and those living with a spouse, use Ms. with the woman’s maiden name until married, Schweitzer said.
In business, Ms. is usually the most appropriate.
With all of that being said, how you address your cards often depends on your social circles.
"Many people are very informal and how a holiday card is mailed doesn’t impact their world," Schweitzer said.
Happy New Year or Happy New Year's or Happy New Years?
Do: Happy New Year. Season's Greetings. Only capitalize the name of the holiday, not references to events in the new year. Example: Angie is having a baby in the new year.
Don't: Happy New Year's. Happy New Years. Seasons Greetings.
The Smiths' or Smith's or Smiths?
Last name: Smith
Do: Merry Christmas from the Smiths. You're invited to the Smiths' holiday party. From the Smith family.
Don't: From the Smith's
Last name: Jones
Do: The Joneses. The Jones family. The Jones' holiday party. (When a name ends in "s" add "es")
Don't: From the Jones'
Last name: May
Do: The Mays
Don't: The Maies
Names ending in "ch" (unless it's pronouced with a hard k, like "monarch"), s, sh, x and z require an "es" to make them plural. All other names simply use "s."
Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets