The Etiquette for a Get Well Card

Updated February 21, 2017

If a friend or loved one has recently been ill or had surgery, sending a get well card is a nice way to share your well wishes. There are a few simple etiquette rules to follow to ensure that the intended message is properly conveyed to the recipient.

When to Send a Card

It's best to send a get well card a day or two after someone has had surgery--if the patient's hospital stay will be fairly long, sending the card while the recipient is in the hospital is a better gesture than waiting for her release. Hand delivering the card is best if visitors are allowed at the hospital shortly after the patient's release from surgery. If a person has a chronic illness, and doesn't suffer from the symptoms on a daily basis, it is acceptable to send a get well card only during a relapse of the condition to show support and concern.

Minor Injuries/Illness

It is appropriate to send a get well card to a loved one that has missed work for a few days because of the flu or who is unable to perform day-to-day duties due to a broken or sprained limb. Cards should be mailed directly to the loved one's home if you are unable to hand deliver it. A get well card is also appropriate for individuals who simply need to take a break from an extremely busy schedule and may be experiencing fatigue or stress-related symptoms.

What to Say

The get well card should reflect the nature of the illness as well as the giver's relationship to the recipient. For instance, if a loved one is undergoing cancer treatment, the card should be heartfelt and convey a message of genuine concern. If a younger member of the family has undergone surgery for tonsil removal, the get well card should be fun and encouraging but concise. Even though most get well cards contain a pre-printed message in them, proper etiquette suggests that a short, handwritten note should also be placed inside the card to make the well wishes more personable. Humorous cards should not be used for individuals with chronic illnesses unless there is a close relationship between the giver and recipient; otherwise, a funny message could be offensive.

Cards for Employees/ Bosses

When sending a get well card to a co-worker, employee or boss, the language of the card should be professional while still conveying well wishes. Phrases like "wishing you a speedy recovery" or "hope you're feeling better soon" are acceptable. Cards should be left on the desk of the recipient if he will only be away from the office for a day or two; coworkers with a chronic illness should receive get well cards by mail directly to their homes, unless the employee has indicated that home visits are acceptable.

Additional Information

It's best to send a small gift with the get well card, such as a bouquet of flowers or a large balloon. This is appropriate when giving cards to colleagues or loved ones. The get well card can also accompany flowers that are delivered to a patient's hospital room. Depending on the nature of the illness, food gifts are acceptable to send with a get well card as well (for example, a pot of chicken soup for a loved one who has a cold).

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About the Author

Tamiya King has been writing for over a decade, particularly in the areas of poetry and short stories. She also has extensive experience writing SEO and alternative health articles, and has written published interviews and other pieces for the "Atlanta Tribune" and Jolt Marketing. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in English and is currently pursuing higher education to become a creative writing professor.