Don't make these mistakes when addressing holiday cards

We're all excited to say goodbye to 2020, whether it's in a holiday card or not. Just don't get caught wishing someone "Happy New Year's."

Holiday cards can be trickier than they seem. Aside from wrangling your family for a sweet photo and tracking down friends' addresses, there's grammar and etiquette to worry about.

Plus, a word of warning from Lizzie Post of The Emily Post Institute: Avoid making jokes this year. Amid a deadly pandemic, "something from the heart lands better."

You also want to get your cards in the mail sooner than later because the U.S. Postal Service is well, how should I say it? Busy.

Here's what you should know before sticking stamps on those envelopes:

Write the address in all capital letters

Addresses should be printed in all capital letters, according to the Postal Service. This isn't required, but it helps ensure your cards arrive at the right home.

Miss, Ms., or Mrs.?

Miss is an unmarried woman or young girl under the age of 18. Mrs. is a married woman. Ms. can be used for any woman, no matter her marital status.

Formal titles?

Formal titles can be tricky. When in doubt, it's best to ask people their preferred title.

In a past interview with USA TODAY, Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette and modern manners expert, said opt for formal titles. That's Mrs., Ms., Miss and Mr. The plural of Mr. is Messrs and the plural of two women is Mesdames.

Traditional addresses for married couples use a man's first and last name: Mr. and Mrs. John Kelly. But, it's also 2020. So, per Emily Post guidelines, including the woman's name is acceptable, and a woman's name can go before a man's. Same-sex couples can be addressed with their names on the same line, possibly in alphabetical order, separated by an "and." For example: Mr. Adam Smith and Mr. Mike Thompson. Or, if they go by the same last name: Mr. Adam and Mr. Mike Thompson.

For unmarried couples, use his or her maiden name, such as Mr. John Smith and Ms. Mary Williams. Divorced women have the option of using their ex-husband's last name or their maiden name. A legal name would take precedence.

Widowed women can be addressed with the late husband's name (Mrs. John Smith) or using a Mrs. or Ms. in front of the woman's name (Mrs. or Ms. Jane Smith). Ask the recipient's preference, Schweitzer said.

For a married woman keeping her maiden name, use her first name and maiden name and her spouse’s first and last name. Emily Post advises using Ms. in this case. For women who are engaged, use Ms. with the woman’s maiden name until married, Schweitzer said.

In business, Ms. is usually the most appropriate.

Despite all that advice, how you address your cards often depends on your social circles.

"The better thing is to get it out wrong than not get it out at all," said Post, also a co-host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast.

Happy New Year, Happy New Year's, or Happy New Years?

Do: Happy New Year. Season's Greetings. Only capitalize the name of the holiday, not references to events in the new year. Example: Angie is having a baby in the new year.

Don't: Happy New Year's. Happy New Years. Seasons Greetings.

The Smiths', Smith's, or Smiths?

Last name: Smith

Do: Merry Christmas from the Smiths. You're invited to the Smiths' virtual holiday party. From the Smith family.

Don't: From the Smith's

Last name: Jones

Do: The Joneses. The Jones family. The Jones' virtual holiday party. (When a name ends in "s" add "es.")

Don't: From the Jones'

Last name: May

Do: The Mays

Don't: The Maies

Names ending in "ch" (unless it's pronounced with a hard k, like "monarch"), "s," "sh," "x" and "z" require an "es" to make them plural. All other names simply use "s."

Editor's note: A version of this article originally published in 2017.

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Holiday cards: How to address them correctly, make names plural