Your guide to correct Christmas card grammar

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Casual communication is great — it helps families, friends and colleagues bond and build relationships. But don’t confuse informality with laziness! Formal rules of grammar still apply for Christmas cards, and it’s important to follow them over the festive season when your cards, invitations and thank you notes will be seen by customers and vendors alike.

Here are a few Christmas card grammar tips to make sure your Christmas cards are in tip-top shape. Put these rules to work and you’ll be well on your way to creating a professional, grammatically sound card to send to everyone on your Christmas card list.

  1. Pluralise your last name correctly.
  2. Know when to use apostrophes.
  3. Brush up on your grammar and punctuation skills.

1. Pluralise your last name correctly.

Many people struggle with pluralising their last name. Some add extra letters or an errant apostrophe.

But never fear — the rules are actually pretty straightforward.

How to pluralise your last name:

a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h (see exceptions below), i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, y-sNo
s, x, z, ch, sh-esNo

2. Know when to use apostrophes (and when not to).

Apostrophes are used for one reason: to denote possession (Sarah’s car, the kids’ toys, the Johnsons’ annual party). Never use an apostrophe to pluralise a name.

How and when to make your last name possessive:

Why would I do this?If you’re describing something that belongs to your whole family (e.g. your house).
How do I do this?Pluralise your last name (using the rules above), then add an apostrophe at the end.
Wait, the apostrophe goes after the whole name, even the pluralisation?Yes
Give me two examples.‘Party this Sunday at the Joneses’ House’ and ‘Don’t forget to move the Dicksons’ car’.

3. Brush up on your grammar skills.

No need to dust off your old textbooks just yet — this quick chart makes the rules of grammar, capitalisation and punctuation simple to follow.

Christmas card grammar:

Please RSVPRSVP‘RSVP’ is short for ‘répondez s’il vous plait’, which means ‘please respond’ in French. Saying ‘please’ is repetitive in this use.
‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’‘merry Christmas’ and ‘happy Hanukkah’Adjectives describing nouns shouldn’t be capitalised unless they start sentences.
Tis the season‘Tis the season‘’Tis’ is a contraction of ‘it is’ and needs an apostrophe, just like ‘it’s’.
Hi JohnHi, JohnWhen addressing a note, use a comma after ‘hi’ but not after ‘dear’.
Dear, JohnDear JohnSame as above.
‘New Years Day’ and ‘seasons greetings’‘New Year’s Day’ and ‘season’s greetings’In these phrases, ‘new Year’s’ and ‘season’s’ are possessive and need apostrophes.