My roommate asked me in so many words how to properly punctuate the address of a holiday card to a family. First of all, I’m not sure if it’s the plural or the possessive ‘s’ that we add… are we writing “The Doherty’s” as if to say “The Doherty’s Greeting Card” (possessive), or are we writing it as if to say “The People That Make Up The Doherty Party” (adding the plural)? I suppose it’s the latter option we generally go for; it’s more personal, which is kind of the point of a greeting card. In that case, and this is my roommate’s question, do you pluralize the family name with, or without, an apostrophe?

Good question!!

If you’re a stickler for pluralization rules, and you’re intimate with the family, a merry old “Doherties” would do. It’s quirky; I like it. But since “Doherty” is a proper noun, I think an apostrophe is standard accepted usage as in “The Doherty’s”. I neurotically prefer no apostrophe: “The Dohertys”. A noun’s a noun, and I reserve apostrophes (unlike commas which I spread like Johnny Commaseed… for the drama), so unless it’s used to show possessive, no apostrophe for you!

However, if you haven’t yet blemished the envelope with awkwardly addressed greetings, might I suggest a classy “The Doherty Family” and bypass all this nonsense?

Season’s Greetings from the Epeolatrist Family!