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The Hill Navigator Guide to Sending Holiday Cards

Want to send workplace holiday cards? Here's what you need to know. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Welcome to the holiday season! It's full of receptions, cocktail parties and Christmas cards, all things Hill Navigator endorses (in moderation, of course). But how do you go about sending cards to your workplace contacts? Hill Navigator discusses.

Q. Everyone keeps telling me I should send out Christmas cards as a good way to keep a strong network. I have met dozens of people in the past year who have been helpful in finding me new opportunities on the Hill and who I think will be friends or contacts going forward. Most of them I only have their work address. Can I just send them Christmas cards to their work address? Does the Senate/House mail system make this a futile exercise? Is it better ask them for your home address even though that might be a tad awkward for professional contacts? What's an aspiring networker supposed to do?
A. You are absolutely correct: Staying in touch with contacts is wise, and holiday cards are a great way to go about it. So for you, the aspiring, networking staffer, here is a guide to sending awesome holiday cards.  

Real Mail is Underrated. Sure, a Paperless Post invite might be great for a night of birthday drinks, but for holiday greetings, paper trumps all. Buy a real card, find an envelope, buy a stamp and write a short personalized message. It doesn’t need to be thank-you card length — just a line or two wishing them a happy new year, or reminding them of your lovely chat at Cups and Co. just a few weeks back. Without that personalization, the holiday card is just a shiny flyer dressed up in a card stock envelope. Which is OK, too, but remember that you’re networking, and you want to be memorable.  

Aim for Inclusive Language. If you’re sending to business colleagues — especially in a place such as D.C., where people celebrate all sorts of festivities — it can be easier to cast a wide net with “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings” rather than “Merry Christmas.” But you know your audience, so decide what’s best for you.  

No Need to Track Down Home Addresses. Sending a holiday card to a workplace is de rigueur for work contacts, particularly those with whom you have not socialized with outside of an office setting. For your recipients in the House or Senate office buildings, feel free to stretch your legs with a hand delivery and a quick excuse to say "hello" (without overstaying your welcome). As long as the card is of de minimis value, nothing in the rules would prohibit sending a Christmas card to a member or staffer, says Roll Call ethics columnist C. Simon Davidson.  

Although, when you think of it, the true cost of a well written card may be invaluable.  

And if you’re feeling particularly generous, don’t forget to include Hill Navigator on your list: 77 K St. NE, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20002.  

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