Christmas Card Etiquette After Divorce

The holiday season is such a fun time to go to your mailbox. Why? Because you probably get some beautiful holiday and Christmas cards from family and friends. You get to see everyone’s kids, how much they’ve grown, and smiling, happy faces. You also get to send your holiday cards, spreading good cheer and your kids happy faces. But what happens when you get divorced? Should you still send holiday cards? This article addresses holiday and Christmas card etiquette after divorce.


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What should the return address label read?

What should the greeting say?

How should you sign the card?

Can you still use “The Smiths?” even if “The Smiths” aren’t living in the same house any longer?

Will people think it’s weird if your ex isn’t in the picture? (literally?)

Should you even send them?

These are all really tough questions, especially if this is your first holiday season and Christmas as a newly separated or newly divorced person.

Several years ago, when I got separated, it was during the month of August,  so four months later, when  the holiday season came around, sending a card didn’t really appeal to me. I was thinking, ‘We’re not a family anymore,’ ‘We’re broken,’ ‘Does anyone really want a card from a divorcee and her two kids?’

Looking back, that was the worst way to look at things, and a terrible way of thinking.


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Of course you are still a family, you are definitely not broken, and yes, everyone who loves you wants a holiday or Christmas card from you and your kids! There, that’s your holiday or Christmas card etiquette right there!

Here is some holiday or Christmas card etiquette for divorce:


1. The address return label can just have your address on it, or you can still have it read, “The Smiths,” or, just have it be from you.

There are no right or wrong answers. It’s a personal decision.



2. The greeting can be anything you want it to be!

Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year…The beauty is, divorce or no divorce, these sentiments apply.


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3. I sign my cards every year with my name (I changed back to my maiden name) and then my kids first and last names.

Again, all of these things are your decisions and there are no right or wrong answers.

The only wrong answer is to not send a holiday or Christmas card after divorce because you are embarrassed or you think people don’t want one from you.


Be strong. Be tough. Send your holiday cards this year!  You technically have until January 15th (in my opinion) to get your cards out, and if people receive them after Christmas, they will appreciate them even more because yours will come solo, and not with dozens of others that come right before Christmas.


Receiving a holiday card from you tells people a few things:


1. You possess grace, strength, and courage.  You have the confidence that your family is just as special as people who are married. (which is true.)

2. You care about saying Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to people you love and care about, and your divorce isn’t the center of your universe.

Sending holiday or Christmas cards after divorce is empowering in a way. It sends a message that the spirit of the holiday season doesn’t go away because you got divorced. It also screams independence and confidence, and in a subtle way, it shows people you are going to be just fine.


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Lastly, I want to address the question, does divorce change WHO you are sending the card to? Probably. For example, you might not be sending your soon-to-be ex-in-laws a Christmas card this year. But what about mutual friends, or friends who knew your ex first?

The best holiday or Christmas card etiquette is, take the high road. If you want to send someone a card, just do it. I bet no one ever said to themselves, “Shoot, I wish I wouldn’t have sent a card to so and so.”


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The recipient might be shocked if he or she gets a card from you, probably in a good way, though. Don’t worry so much about what people might think. In other words, if you want to wish someone a Merry Christmas, there’s no rule that says you can’t.


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Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorced Girl Smiling is here to empower, connect and inspire you. Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling, the site, the podcast and the app. A former television journalist and newspaper features reporter, Pilossoph is also the author of four novels and the writer of her weekly relationship column, Love Essentially. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism and lives in Chicago with her two teenagers.

The author of the novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase, Pilossoph also writes the weekly dating and relationships advice column, “Love Essentially”, published in the Chicago Tribune Pioneer Press and the Chicago Tribune online. Additionally, she is a Huffington Post contributor. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University.

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