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Post-Holiday Writing Etiquette

Recent visitors to this blog have been searching for answers to post-holiday etiquette questions. Here are three good ones:

  1. Is it necessary to respond to Christmas greetings?
  2. How do I say thank you for a Christmas gift when I don’t celebrate Christmas?
  3. How do I write a thank you for a business gift?

The basic answer to all three questions is the same: Do what will make you and the other person feel good about yourselves and your business relationship. Specifically:

Question 1: It’s not necessary to respond to Christmas greetings, but it’s a fine gesture. Why not respond like this in an email or written note:

Many thanks for your holiday greetings! I hope you had a lovely Christmas, and I wish you a beautiful new year.

Question 2: Saying thank you for a gift is the same whether we celebrate Christmas or not:

Thank you for the lovely calendar [delicious sweets, beautiful flowers, excellent book, gorgeous weaving, etc.]. It’s the perfect gift, and I know I will derive much pleasure from it. [Say more here about the gift, if possible.]
It was very kind of you to remember me during the holidays, and I am touched by your thoughtfulness.
Best regards,

Question 3: See the message above for one example of a business thank you. Here’s another:

Thank you so much for the gift certificate to Ray’s Boathouse restaurant. It is a spectacular gift. My wife and I look forward to dining out within the next few days. We can’t wait to enjoy your generous gift.
Again, thank you. Your gift is an ideal treat for us.

See my post How to Write a Thank You for more tips and examples.

If you are struggling over what to say or do, don’t sweat the small stuff (Translation: Don’t worry about the details.) Remember the true spirit of holiday giving and sharing: joy, generosity, acceptance, community, peace, love, and hope. We need those in business communication as much as anywhere else.


Other search spellings: etiquete, etiquitte, etiquite, Chrismas, buisness

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

2 comments on “Post-Holiday Writing Etiquette”

  • Cathy, business letters are single-sided. Although I have received long direct mail (sales) letters that were two-sided, I have never seen any other business letters formatted that way.

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