Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Calling Cards Etiquette

The tradition of calling on friends and acquaintances as a formal social ritual is pretty much nonexistent today. It enjoyed its heyday before World War I, when the woman of the household did the visiting. If the person being called upon was out, the caller left her husband’s calling card and her own on a silver tray in the foyer of the home. Husbands went along only when the visit was to offer condolences; visit the sick; or congratulate a birth, a major birthday, career triumph, and so on. The use of calling cards declined as women became major contributors to the workforce and had less time to go visiting. Economic factors also contributed. Calling cards are expensive. They must be engraved, which is a luxury. Also, the Postal Service will no longer deliver this size envelope, which severely limits the usefulness of the calling card as an invitation.
Eventually, they began to be used primarily as gift enclosures, although most people these days use informal notes for that because they provide more writing space. However, if your budget permits, nothing is more elegant than receiving a gift with a calling card enclosed.
Always engrave calling cards in black ink with a simple typeface. White or off-white are the correct colors. The cards are engraved with either your name or your name and address. Generally, no abbreviations are used. If the address is printed on the card, it goes in the lower-right corner. You may also write your address and telephone number on the card. Do so in ink, but not with a ballpoint pen, which insults the elegance of the card.
If you write a message on the card (Have a wonderful 50th!), it should be simply written on the face of the card. This rule also applies when using the calling card as a gift enclosure. If the card is a gift enclosure, draw a single line through your name and then write your name (Affectionately, Mary). Make sure you write the receiver’s name and address on the front of the envelope if it’s a gift so that it doesn’t get separated by mistake before delivery. Do not seal the envelope. Calling cards are gender specific. Generally, a woman’s card is more square than a man’s. A man’s card is longer than a woman’s.
Correct approximate sizes:
  • Men, regardless of marital status: 33/8 by 11/2 inches high or 31/2 by 2 inches high.
  • Single women: 27/8 by 2 inches high.
  • Married women: 31/8 by 21/4 inches high.
  • Married couple: 33/8 by 21/2 inches high.

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