Naughty and Nice Ways to Greet and Gift around the Holidays

By Emily Bennett

Shift•ology Communication Account Manager Emily Bennett, our resident “chief grammarologist,” is the trained set of keen eyes that reviews all content we produce for our clients for both proper grammar and style before it goes out our door. She joined a holiday episode of our Shooting the Shift podcast to share why proper grammar is so important around the holidays; why those who are NOT communication professionals should care; and four grammar tips for sprucing up your holiday gifts and greetings. 


A big part of Christmas and the holiday season is about giving, and you want everything to look nice and neat and pretty when packaged all together. For communication professionals such as myself, that also means making sure we’re using correct grammar and style in items such as Christmas cards and special gifts purchased for families. Unfortunately, we often see bad uses of grammar this time of year. 

Here are four grammar tips to spruce up your holiday gifts and greetings when using family names. 

  1. NEVER, EVER use an apostrophe followed by an S with family names. This makes me cringe every time I see it. An apostrophe followed by an S is making something possessive when you want to be making it plural.
  2. Just simply add an S at the end of a name in most instances. So say The Bennetts, The Tolands, etc.
  3. Add an “ES” to names that end in S, CH, SH, X or Z. So, for example, if your last name is BUSH, make it BUSHES.
  4. When in doubt, keep it simple. You can just eliminate all confusion by sticking the word “family” after the last name. So “The Toland family” or “The Bennett family” works fantastic in all cases.

What’s the Difference Between Grammar and Style?

It’s important to know the difference between grammar and style. Grammar refers to the general rules the English language follows that everybody should adhere to, including the different pieces of writing, such as nouns, verbs, objects, pronouns, etc. It’s all about the way English works. 

Simply add an S at the end of a family name in most instances. No apostrophes needed!

Whereas style refers to a specific agreed-upon set of rules that professionals use when writing content. At Shift•ology, we adhere to the Associated Press (AP) Style of writing, which is the agreed-upon set of rules the Associated Press and most members of the media adhere to when publishing content. 

There’s even an AP Stylebook, often referred to as the Journalist’s Bible, that outlines all the little nuances involved in writing in this manner. If you are working with the media, as we often do, creating content adhering to AP Style increases the chances of content we produce on behalf of our clients being published as written. It’s easier for us as communication professionals to get the word out and for those in the media to publish content without having to edit. 

Check out Emily’s interview in our holiday episode of Shooting the Shift, also featuring Agriculture Account Manager Cassie Jo Arend and Ohio Christmas tree farmer Jeff Reese.