11/07/2014 02:33 pm ET Updated Jan 07, 2015

Holiday Card Grammar: Getting It Right While Reinforcing That Subtle 'Perfect Family' Message

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Let's be real. Holiday cards are like Facebook; they're for showing off to all your friends and family. But the pressure to get your card right is huge. While you can be a little unbuttoned on Facebook -- posting the occasional grainy photo and perhaps a typo here and there -- your holiday cards need to be slick, people. Mothers who incorrectly spell the plural or possessive form of their own last name on their holiday card, or who misspell something easy like "children's," are the mirror image of those with complexes who do their hair every day, never miss their Botox appointment, and drive pristine Teslas. They are all outsiders, and you don't want to be one of them.

Do you live in mortal fear of being one of those moms that sends the total fake-out holiday card of you and your perfectly graying husband lounging around on tropical beaches with your smiling, superbly groomed children? In that Barbie Beach Babe world -- even though that was totally you until you had your third child -- nobody fights. Nobody drinks too much because he hates his job. Nobody is going through a [really bad word] mid-life crisis and wishes she were in Africa building schools rather than driving a dirty blue minivan filled with Halloween candy wrappers and dog hair. In your holiday card, even if you attempt total sincerity by mentioning that your husband is an alcoholic cheater and your entire life smells like dog, you will be tempted to say that throughout this year, you've been surrounded by love and support and overwhelmed by the generosity of.... blah blah blah. It's enough to send you running to the cosmetic dermatologist, really, but you are not going to send that kind of card this year.

Instead, you're just going to spell everything right, which subtly conveys that nonchalant "perfect family" vibe that will keep you in the right social circles all year long. And here's how to do that. (You can trust me. Your holiday card = my HuffPost article.)

To make your last name (or holidays, greetings, etc.) plural, just add an s (no apostrophe needed)...
• The Hunters Wish You the Happiest Holidays

... unless your name ends with an s or z, in which case you add an es (still no apostrophe):
• Holiday Greetings from the Crinkses (the Crinks family) and the Lantzes (the Lantz family)

The plural possessive is really easy if you start with the correct plural, above. Just add an apostrophe after the plural version of your name:
• Oh look, the Hunters' (the Hunter family's) holiday card arrived on December 2nd! [That mom is really organized]
• The Crinkses' and Lantzes' holiday cards arrived the day before. [&%$#!]

If you're talking about individual people in your family, similar rules apply. To indicate possession, just add an 's to the end of the person's name:
• Look at Ellie's [Burberry Baby dress] cute new tooth!
• Look at Thomas's [Burberry Baby onesie] favorite toy truck! (When the name ends in s, it's also correct to say "Thomas' truck," but I prefer the former convention. Just pick one, and be consistent.)

If you're talking about your children, here's how it works for plural....
• The children (kids) are each [riding four times per week] enjoying school.

.... And plural possessive:
• The children's (kids') [grades are spectacular] soccer games have been so fun to watch.

Finally, don't forget that it's means "it is" or "it has," and that its is the possessive form. So:
• It's (it is) time for our annual holiday letter! Or it's (it has) been such a fun year!
• And put the [really bad word] card in its [bad word] envelope already, or we'll never get them out on November 29.