Holiday And Christmas Card Etiquette After Divorce

Christmas card etiquette

By Jackie Pilossoph, Editor-in-chief, Divorced Girl Smiling, Love Essentially columnist and author

The holiday season is such a fun time to go to your mailbox. Why? Because in addition to bills and junk mail, 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! But what happens when you get divorced and you’re not sure about the holiday and Christmas card etiquette?



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.

I got divorced 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.


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


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. 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! There’s still time. 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 card from you tells people a few things:


1. You possess grace, strength, and courage.  You have the confidence that your family unit 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 enter 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.


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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.”

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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Jackie Pilossoph

Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

Divorce is a journey. Live it with grace, courage and gratitude. Peace and joy are on the way! Jackie Pilossoph is the creator and Editor-In-Chief of Divorced Girl Smiling. 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.

8 Responses to “Holiday And Christmas Card Etiquette After Divorce”

  1. gg

    I’ve never been the type to send out holiday cards, but you’re right, it’s a great way to connect with people who live so far away.

  2. corrinne manera

    This article is 100% how I have felt this holiday. After nearly 3 years I am planning on putting cards out. I love to give and receive them however I struggle with how to sign them. My children are in their college and just post college days and I am still including their photos. Thank you for putting this out! Joyful Season to you!

  3. Deborah Ganem Yon

    For the kids’ sake, is it helpful to say it’s also from their dad? I think it would make them feel bad if we exclude him from THEIR family.

  4. Karen L Kitto

    This post is old, but it’s what came up when I searched “Christmas cards after divorce”. My husband and I have recently separated (3 weeks ago) and I am one of those old fashioned folks who ALWAYS does a holiday card. I like the idea of doing still doing it, but I do feel a little stuck on who to sign it from. Putting all our names (him, me, our two daughters) seems a bit fake. But just doing me and the girls seems passive-aggressive somehow. Thoughts? Also I used to do several smaller photos (him and me, him and kids, me and kids, kids together, all four of us, etc.) but this year will just feature the kids and leave us out entirely. But it seems cheesy to sign it just from them — although that is also my temptation…

    • Sylvan

      I was searching for the same reason, and wanted to share my thought – There is NOTHING passive aggressive about sending a card from you and your daughters, without your husband. He can send his own with them if he wants, too. It’s just the reality of how you and the girls are spending your lives and your holiday now. I imagine many friends and family would appreciate the clarification, and would be confused at what the situation is if you included your (ex?-)husband.


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