The right etiquette for business Christmas cards

Personalised company Christmas cards are a nice way of paying individual attention to your clients, and the perfect way to say thanks for all the hard work you’ve put in together throughout the year. Whether you’re running a small or large company, whether you’re a SMB owner or entrepreneur, business Christmas cards for partners, followers, fans, and friends are a great way to promote yourself. But this shift from business to sort-of personal communication requires a skilful hand. The content, concept, and form must be right. Otherwise, well-intentioned Christmas greetings could be a source of trouble. Here’s our guide for the perfect client Christmas cards.

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Why is it important to send Christmas cards to clients?

It’s that time of year again! The end of the calendar year brings with it festivities and seasonal cheer, but there’s also a lot of business to finish up. Questions you might be asking yourself include: Do I send out Christmas cards to clients? And if so, to which ones? How do I formulate my Christmas wishes in such a way that clients remember my company? And do I send corporate Christmas cards digitally or as a classic Christmas letter to my customers? Are charity Christmas cards for businesses the best way forward?

All these questions are completely valid, and we will get to them in a moment. However, we will first address why it’s important to send business Christmas cards out in the first place.

Not every company sends out a corporate Christmas card to its customers every year as a regular tradition. Often due to their customer database being outdated – smaller companies can sometimes lack a clear overview, and rather than forgetting some customers and causing insult, it seems easier to avoid the whole thing altogether.

However, customer loyalty isvery important and can be significantly strengthened by a small, thoughtful gesture like an annual Christmas greeting.

A business Christmas card is really an example of business communication done well. It shows which company has done its homework. A well-kept email list is of vital importance. If your customers are used to getting regular emails from you, your greeting won’t come as a surprise, but will be appreciated all the same.

Tip

A good tool to professionalise customer retention digitally for freelancers and small businesses is the Google Workspace, which is also available from IONOS. It not only allows you to set up mailing lists, but also to work together on projects, appointments, and documents in real time.

Christmas cards for clients should be a serious gesture that incorporates a bit of seasonal cheer and appreciates your working partners. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it might be a nice gesture to others to show them that you’re thinking of them and your working relationship as the year draws to a close.

Tip

For larger companies, Microsoft 365 is a good tool to professionalise both internal and external processes in customer communication.

Christmas favours, a Christmas email, or a company Christmas card – what’s best?

Even today, most companies still opt for a classic Christmas greeting by snail mail. It’s nice to get something you can hold in your hands, and it means your clients can use a physical card to decorate their space – another great advertising opportunity for you!

That’s why most business Christmas cards aren’t in the form of a letter or ordinary card. Usually, corporate Christmas cards are a bit more personalised and will be a bit creative and more decorative to stand out from the usual mail. A traditional way of doing this is a company photo – but some companies splash out and get seasonally scented stationary (cinnamon, tangerine…) – that’s a little daring though.

However, digital business Christmas cards are on the rise. A company may opt for a digital card because it saves on postage, and it’s a more sustainable option. As the world becomes more eco-minded, lots of paper cards might not be the best PR-move, after all. Digital company Christmas cards allow you to be just as creative as snail-mail ones – video recordings, company Christmas jingles… it’s just a question of how creative you want to be!

What the right form is boils down to two factors, namely your own company and the customer. Creative, digital Christmas greetings are ideal for customers who have a strong digital presence, whereas a snail-mail version may go down a treat for enterprises that are focused on an offline service.

Successful company Christmas cards

In order for your own Christmas greetings to be successful, you have to think about what you want to achieve with them. What is the business relationship with your client like, and do you want it to become anything else than it already is?

A great start is simply saying thank you for working together over the past year. This might not extend your current working relationship, though, and Christmas greetings can also be used to deepen the connection you have with customers, to expand business contacts, and to strengthen brand image. Creative Christmas wishes can even breathe new life into old business contacts as they are reminded of your business.

For a successful business Christmas card, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What you want to achieve is the realisation on your customer’s behalf that you’ve thought of them at this time, that you’re grateful that they choose to do business with you, and that you truly wish them well.

The right greeting

In order for your corporate Christmas card to really have an effect, you’ve got to get off to the right start. The way you address your client is of high importance and depends on your relationship to them. You can split your customer base between long-standing and new customers:

  1. The formal form of address: If your company Christmas card is to go to potential or new customers, a formal form of address such as ‘Dear Mr / Ms + last name’ is a good choice. This shows that you’re being respectful and not presumptuous.
  2. The familiar form of address: If you’ve been working with a client for a long time, you could still consider using their title (Mr/Ms/Dr.) to address them. However, this might be alienating to them if you’re normally on a first name basis. Take the form of how you normally communicate with your long-term clients as your guidance here.
Note

This divide is just a suggestion, and lots of start-ups will have a different ethos towards new clients. It has become a trend to have a casual relationship with all customer communication, and if this is your usual style, using a formal approach, even for new clients, might be at odds with your normal company image.

A creative text

Using your own text isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a nice touch. Lots of other companies will use templates with standardised formulations, so your company business card will seem more genuine if you compose something yourself (we’ve got some examples below).

Quotations from books, films, songs with Christmas references are a good idea, as long as you reference the original work. These are also a great help when writing individual Christmas greetings for customers. For example, if you have a friendly relationship with your customer, you can rewrite a verse from a Christmas carol to refer to your business relationship. In the case of a formal relationship, you may want to simply wish the customer and their family a cheerful festive period.

The right signature

The concluding greeting should correspond to the relationship you have with your customers:

Formal:

  • With best regards
  • Best regards

Christmas casual:

  • With a Christmassy greeting
  • Christmas puns
  • Wishes for a nice Advent time

Type of card

If you opt for a physical card, you should put some thought into where you source it from. After the 2019 Christmas card scandal, it would be wise to consider using charity Christmas cards for your business. In 2019, pleas for help were discovered inside Tesco Christmas cards, alleged to have come from forced-labour workers in China. The events of the last year also drew public attention to how Christmas goods are produced, and made it clear that supporting charities during the festive period is all the more important.

At the time of year where much of the Western world aims to focus on generosity, compassion, and gratefulness, sending charity Christmas cards from your business shows that you are switched on to the sentiments of the season. Not only will it benefit your public relations, but you’ll be able to enjoy indulging during the Christmas season more yourself, knowing that you’ve supported others in need by sending charity Christmas cards from your business.

What can go wrong when sending business Christmas cards?

As we’ve seen, Christmas cards are not immune to scandal. Even if well-intentioned, corporate Christmas cards can also backfire – if you misjudge your relationship to a customer, spell their names incorrectly, or simply send something that is a bit ‘too much’. The following mistakes are classic examples, and don’t just apply to Christmas cards, but are good business etiquette in general.

The wrong format

Regardless of how successful your business is on social media, Christmas greetings as DMs are not appropriate. Snail mail or email are the best (and only) ways to send a company Christmas card. Everything else is a little too personal.

An email should not have multiple recipients, and if possible, it should not contain any links. Clients should all get the same message – the simpler your company Christmas card organisation, the better!

Tip

Follow our other tips as well! Knowing how to write the perfect email is also important for the rest of the year.

Business Christmas cards can be sent on card and/or stationery paper. A certain level of quality is important here. A greeting on cheap paper, printed with a black and white laser ink won’t go down very well.

If the letter contains a Christmassy motif, it should be neither obscene nor silly, as this could be embarrassing. In addition, avoid using your standard stationery, as it will seem like you’ve thought of this last-minute.

The wrong message

The message should contain Christmas wishes and no mention of daily business. If business conditions between the two parties is likely to change next year, this should be addressed in a separate letter. The same applies to appointments or information about current projects.

A business Christmas card should also not look like an obligation. Pre-formulated, standard texts might give off this impression. If you use the same message each year, it’ll start to seem insincere.

The wrong timing

As a rule of thumb, the 50th week of the year is considered a good time to send Christmas greetings by mail to national customers. For international customers, week 49 is a good target. If you did not manage to send your company Christmas cards in time, you should consider carefully whether you should still do so. Late Christmas wishes leave a disorganised impression with customers. You could opt for a digital greeting instead.

Learning from old mistakes

If your corporate Christmas cards have been sent out, only for you to realise that they contain errors, there’s not much you can do. Stay calm because you can't change them now, anyway. Excessively apologising to customers for ill-managed Christmas greetings would only make things worse and draw attention to the problem. Instead, this is a very good moment to plan exactly what you can do better next time:

  • Annual analysis: Which customers returned? Which ones have gone away?
  • Further training in CRM: Customer relationship management is fundamental for all customer retention.
  • Communication planning: Are your intentions clear and authentic in every customer communication?
  • Customer recovery: Lost customers can be won back through promotions and offers.

Examples of Christmas cards for clients

Successful business Christmas cards will have been written individually for customers – but you don’t need to start from scratch. The following ten examples can serve as inspiration:

  1. Formal greetings: ‘We wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a great start into the New Year. We’re delighted to having worked together, and look forward to working with you in the future.’
  2. Formal thanks: ‘I would like to thank you for our successful work together this year and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.’
  3. Short and sweet: ‘Merry Christmas and thank you for a great year. We look forward to working with you again next year.’
  4. Personalised company Christmas cards: Write a poem or a joke personalised for your customers.

It’s not only what you write, but what you send that counts. A digital card might be in the form of a video, but snail mail can offer exciting ideas, too:

  1. A funny Christmas photo: Instead of using a template, you can take a company photo in Christmas gear. Simply put on a Santa hat or form a Christmas tree with your colleagues, and you have a very individual, personal Christmas motif – if a little silly!
  2. Biscuits! If you have a manageable customer base or want to give your most important customers a very special treat, you can surprise them with something homemade. Bake a few Christmas biscuits, or order some for each customer. This will make you popular!
  3. DIY card: Do it yourself is in vogue and can be put into action in making creative Christmas greetings for customers.
  4. Christmas presents for the new year: No matter how unique, creative or quirky company Christmas cards are, in January they’re often thrown away. An idea to make a lasting impression is to send something a little different – seed bombs are great and eco-friendly, and look ahead to the next season.

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