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How to Address a Letter to a Family Correctly

Michele Meleen
woman holding envelope

Knowing how to address a letter to a family can ensure you get the right message to the right people. Letters and envelopes addressed to a family can be informal or formal, just like other types of letters. Learn the etiquette guidelines for addressing a letter to a family with a few examples.

How to Address an Envelope for a Family Letter

Generally, you address envelopes to family members the same way you would any other type of letter. The formal options are acceptable for all types of letters, while the informal options should be reserved for personal letters or things like Christmas cards. The basics to remember are:

  • Your name or your family name and address go in the top left corner of the envelope.
  • The recipient's family name and address goes in the center of the envelope.
  • You should always include last names on an envelope address.
  • You do not use an apostrophe with last names in addresses. Add an "s" to the end of last names that don't end in "s," and add an "es" to the end of last names that end in "s."
  • Traditionally, men's names come first.
  • A stamp goes in the top right corner if you're not hand-delivering the letter.

How to Address an Envelope to a Married Couple With the Same Last Name

When you address an envelope to a married couple, you have a few options for writing their names.

  • Formal: Mr. and Mrs. Lee
  • Formal: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Lee
  • Formal: Dr. and Mrs. Lee
  • Formal: The Lee Family
  • Informal: The Lees
  • Informal: Jack and Kim Lee

How to Address an Envelope to an Unmarried Couple

When you address an envelope to an unmarried couple, or a married couple who have different last names, your options become more limited. You'll need to address each person separately.

  • Formal: Mr. Jack Lee and Ms. Kim Smith
  • Formal: The Lee and Smith Family
  • Informal: Jack Lee and Kim Smith

How to Address an Envelope to a Child

Informal envelopes addressed to children can simply use the child's first and last name. Formal envelopes should include the child's name on the first line and a "care of" designation on the second line with their parents' names.

Formal example:

Jenny Lee
C/O Mr. and Mrs. Jack Lee

family getting mail

How to Address an Envelope to Multiple Family Members

If the message inside the envelope is meant to include the children under age 18 in the family, they should be included on the envelope address. Children over age 18 and other adult members of the household should receive their own separate letters. Use the address examples for the type of couple the parents are (married, different last names, etc.), then add the children in one of the following ways.

  • Formal (address the family as one): The Lee Family
  • Formal (address the family as one): Mr. and Mrs. Lee and Family
  • Formal: Mr. and Mrs. Lee and Children
  • Formal (address each child by title and first name in birth order): Mr. Jack Lee, Ms. Kim Smith, Ms. Jenny Lee, and Mr. Jackson Lee
  • Informal: (address the family as one): The Lees
  • Informal: (address each child by first name in birth order):
    • Mr. and Mrs. Lee
      Jenny and Jackson Lee
  • Informal: (address each person by first name in age order): Jack, Kim, Jenny, and Jackson Lee

How to Address an Envelope to a Family With Different Last Names

When the parents and children in a household have several last names, you basically have two options.

  • Options One: Formal - Put the parents on one line and give each new last name its own line.
    • Mr. Lee and Ms. Smith
      Jenny Johnson
      Jackson Bowen
  • Option Two: Informal - Only use first names.
    • Jack, Kim, Jenny, and Jackson

How to Address a Letter to a Family

Understanding how to address a family in a letter, or open the letter, is very similar to addressing the envelope. Whether it's a formal or informal letter, make sure to address all included family members in the greeting.

Formal Addresses for Family Letters

Formal letter greetings typically include titles and last names of the recipients and are followed by a colon. These would be reserved for things like wedding invitations and legal or professional correspondences.

  • Dear (insert formal family address from envelope here):
  • To (insert formal family address from envelope here):
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith:
  • Mr. and Mrs. Smith and family:

Informal Addresses for Family Letters

If you are writing a personal letter, sending a fun family newsletter, or writing another type of informal letter, you can open the letter with an informal greeting. In these instances it is okay to just use first names, and the greeting is followed by a comma.

  • Dear Jack and Kim,
  • Dear Lee Family,
  • Jack, Kim, Jenny, and Jackson,

The Elements of Family Correspondence

Most family members won't care if you've addressed an envelope or letter properly, because they accept you as you are. However, how you address these family correspondences can send unintentional messages. For example, if you leave a family member out of the address or put the wrong last name, it could offend one or more of the recipients.

How to Address a Letter to a Family Correctly