Around this time of year, it is customary to extend warm wishes to friends and family. Another kind gesture is to wish the best for coworkers and business contacts. While this is a very considerate way to spread holiday cheer, there is a right and wrong way of sharing holiday greetings with the business community. Let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts of holiday business email etiquette.

holiday list

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You should:

Be sincere and be yourself. If you are going to go through the trouble of sending a holiday email, mean what you say. Spitting out loads of holiday clichés is pointless and generic. Write a personalized message and take the opportunity to acknowledge an accomplishment (i.e. successful project, promotions, etc.).

Acknowledge the holidays. This sounds pretty obvious, but it is the reason for the message and you must approach it the right way. When we say “the holidays,” we mean any winter holiday. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, participating in the traditions of Hanukah or Kwanzaa instead. The best way to do this, or at least the safest (as it’s less likely to offend or exclude anyone), is to create a blanket message referring to “the holidays” or “holiday season.”

You shouldn’t:

Be inappropriate. When sending a holiday greeting to a client or other business contact, avoid sending jokes about various holiday scenarios. Your clients are likely to be put off by something in the realm of, “So Santa and Rudolph walk into a bar…” E-cards and image attachments showing snowmen and other characters mooning the viewer are also to be discouraged. Of course, there is a miniscule amount of leeway with this, as a colleague you’re friends with might get a chuckle. In general, however, avoid such things.

Discuss future business dealings. Sending along a kind email greeting to a client is a great way to express thanks and pride in the work you’ve done together. However, it’s not a good idea to tailor a greeting to sound like a business pitch. Going on and on about what more your company can offer and pleading for repeated business isn’t much of a Hallmark moment. If it is important to indicate an interest in future collaboration, make it less obvious. “Looking forward to hearing from you” gives just the tiniest nudge in the right direction.

Of course, one’s own judgment will come in handy when composing the perfect holiday email. However, the tips we’ve laid out should provide a framework for how to approach holiday business emailing in a professional way. Good luck and a very pleasant holiday season to you all!

For more on crafting emails effectively, be sure to check out our blog post on email writing best practices!