Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How To Address An Envelope To A Family

Addressing an envelope to a single person is a cinch — all you need is her or her name and title and you're ready to go. Addressing an envelope to a whole family, however, is a different matter. There are several different ways to address an envelope to a family, each with its own subtleties to consider. Though no single process is terribly difficult, understanding when (and how) to use each can be helpful for the purposes of etiquette. See Step 1 below to get started!

Method 1. Using The Family Name

Write "The (Surname) Family" at the top of the address. When you're looking to address an envelope to an entire family, rather than a single individual, you have two options: you can use the family name to represent the entire family, or you can specifically address the envelope to some (or all) of the family members. Let's tackle the first option first. The easiest way to address an envelope to an entire family is simply write "The (Last Name of the Family) Family" as the first line of your address. This method is a good choice for general communications (like friendly letters) but may be unwise for addressing envelopes in which it's important to know who the letter is specifically for (like wedding invitations).
For example, if we're writing a letter to Tim and Janet Jones and their children Emma and Peter, we would address the envelope to The Jones Family.
Use the plural form of the family name. As an alternative to the above, it's also acceptable to simply use the plural form of the family's surname as the first line of the envelope's address. In this case, the plural family name is always preceded by the word "The" so that the final result is in the form of "The Smiths", "The Garcias", and so on.
Don't fall into the trap of using apostrophes here. Apostrophes are used to convey possession, not to make a word plural, so you shouldn't use them in the plural form of the family name. Most family names simply need an -s at the end to become plural (e.g. Thompsons, Lincolns). However, family names that end with an "s", "sh", or "x" sound usually need an -es at the end (e.g. Roses, Foxes, Welshes).
Following our example above, if we're writing a letter to the Jones family, in addition to using "The Jones Family" as the first line of our address, we can also simply use The Joneses.
Address the rest of the envelope as normal. Regardless of the method you use for the first line of your envelope's address, the rest of the address is written as it would be for any other letter. Under the first line containing the family name, write the street number or PO box, then, on the next line, write the city, state/province, postal code, and so on. If writing internationally, write the name of the country below on a separate fourth line. Write your return address in the same fashion in the top left corner of the envelope. For more information, see How to Write an Address on an Envelope.
For example, in our Jones family example, our final address might look something like this:
The Jones Family (or "The Joneses")
21 Jump Street
Anytown, CA, 98765
As a general rule, whenever you're addressing an envelope to a family, the first line of the address is the one you'll change — the actual street address should remain untouched. In the following methods described below, it is to be assumed that the portion of the address following the "name" line should be written as normal.
Method 2. Using Specific Family Members

Begin with the parents' names and titles. When addressing an envelope to an entire family, in addition to using the family name to stand for all of the family's members, you can also name some or all of them individually. This method is useful for letters such as wedding invitations in which it's important to convey who specifically the letter is for. To begin, on the first line of your address, write the parents' names. In most cases, you will want to use their appropriate titles (Mr. and Mrs. are always safe, while titles like "Dr.", "Judge", and so on are usually optional outside of formal or professional contexts).
For example, If we're inviting the Jones family to a housewarming party, we would start by writing the parents' names on the first line: Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
It's also acceptable to use the traditional form of describing married couples in which the husband's full name serves for both partners: Mr. and Mrs. Tim Jones. However, this method isn't necessary.
Finally, you can also write each partner's full name, sans titles: Tim and Janet Jones. This is usually done in familiar, informal contexts, as using someone's first name rather than his or her title can be seen as rude if you don't know him or her well.
Follow with any children's names. On the next line, list the names of children who are under 18 and live as dependents of the parents. You can provide the family name once at the end of the list of children's names (e.g., David, Chelsea, and Gabriela Richardson), or you can leave it out entirely (e.g., David, Chelsea, and Gabriela). If you know the ages of the children, list them from oldest to youngest.
For example, in our example party invitation scenario, we would write the names of the children in the family below the parent's names like so: Emma and Peter. This means that the first two lines of our address would look something like this:
Mr. and Mrs. Jones


Alternatively, write the parents' names followed by "and Family". In situations where you don't know the names of any or all children in the family, it's acceptable to refer to children collectively. In this case, on the second line where you would normally name the children, write "and Family". You may also use "and Children" to make your intent more specific.
In our example, we could replace Emma and Peter's names with the phrase "and Family" or "and Children" if we had forgotten their names. In this case, the first two lines of our address would look like this:
Mr. and Mrs. Jones
and Children

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