How to Make Your Last Name Plural This Christmas Season

Nothing quells my Christmas cheer as quickly as a stray apostrophe. Every year they assault me.

How quaint? This quaint.

How quaint? This quaint.

Usually it’s in the middle of an otherwise quaint moment: I am padding around my parents’ house, wearing pink slippers, sipping on some hot chocolate. Snow is falling outside the window, and Josh Groban’s Christmas CD is filling the downstairs with peace on earth and mercy mild. My mother is baking a pie. She's about to ask if I want to lick the spatula (which, duh, I will).

First, though, I find a stack of Christmas cards and begin to flip through them—pausing to marvel at how big so-and-so’s kids have gotten. And then I spot it: an apostrophe in a last name that isn’t supposed to be possessive.

I shudder, flipping past the unwarranted punctuation. But as I keep flipping, the apostrophes do, too—flipping me off, that is. They defile Christmas card after Christmas card, last name after last name with their presence. Gone is my Christmas cheer! All my glad tidings, replaced with fury.

“Did no one teach these people how to make their last names plural!?” I scream as I chuck the cards into the fire heretofore crackling peacefully beneath the mantel.

I watch the cards curl and disintegrate in the flames, and I wonder if I’ve overreacted.

Is pluralizing last names more difficult than I realize? Apparently so. Because we get these cards every year—these cards with their adorable photos and their apostrophe catastrophes.

This year I’d like to preempt the pluralization problems. It’s mid-November now, time to order Christmas cards again. I have created a brief guide to help you pluralize your last name. It is my humble attempt to preserve not only apostrophe protocol but also the dignity of the letter S.

The Definitive Guide to Pluralizing Your Last Name

Last letter(s) of last name What should you add to make it plural? Does it need an apostrophe?
a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h (see exceptions below), i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, y -s NO
s, x, z, ch, sh -es NO

Pluralization FAQs


Q: What if my last name ends in a "y"? 

A: Add an "s." Do not add "ies" or an apostrophe. Merry Christmas from the Murphys. 

Q: What if my last name already ends in an "s"? 

A: Add "es." Do not add an apostrophe. Season's greetings from the Simmonses.

Q: What if the end of my last name normally functions as an irregular noun? 

A: It is not irregular when it is part of a last name. Happy holidays from the Hoffmans. Warm wishes from the Wolfs. 

Q: What would adding an apostrophe do?
A: It would hurt Tiny Tim make your last name possessive.

Q: Is there ever a reason to add an apostrophe? 

A: Only if you want to make your last name possessive.

Q: Why do people add apostrophes? 

A: I have no idea.

If your goal is to make your last name possessive, then, by all means, use an apostrophe. If your goal is simply pluralization, however, forgo the apostrophe. In the spirit of the season, I beg you.

Need a picky pair of eyeballs for your writing? I’m available for freelance editing work! I’m certified by the American Copy Editors Society and have more than a decade of experience editing everything from med school apps to magazine articles. Send me a message about your piece or project—I’d love to help you out. (And, yes, it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition now. Unless you’re writing in AP style, in which case it’s OK. See what I did there?)



when it's December 22 and you still haven't bought presents for any of your family members...


I am not a procrastinator by nature. I don't like working in crunch time. But when it comes to picking out presents, I'm always behind schedule. I never think about finding presents until the week of Christmas (or birthdays, etc.), and I rarely feel like the things I've picked for people are any good.

Occasionally I'll find something that reminds me of a specific friend or family member, so I'll snatch it up to save for the right occasion, but I almost never find good presents when I go hunting for them.

A year or two ago, I took a love languages assessment, and, low and behold, I found that gifts are the way I'm least inclined to show and receive love. Suddenly it all made sense! This is why I needmy family members to write their Christmas lists but I never want to write my own.

{my love language results}

Being aware of the various love languages has also helped me to understand how to show love to my friends better. Some need hugs, and some need help, and some just need to hang out. Do you know what your love languages are?

p.s. I did end up purchasing two gifts for family members tonight! #success

Christmas Break To-Do List

1. See my girls.

Got to soak up all the minutes I can with these lovely ladies. (Especially now that a third of them are off and married. #whendidwegetsoold) Can't wait for our annual Secret Santa party tomorrow! (I'm bringing a cheetah Snuggie. Don't tell.)

2. Catch up on blogs. 

Wedding blogs, design blogs, Mormon mommy blogs, your blogs, etc.

via via via

3. Make an excessive number of trips to the mall.

Also, eat an excessive number of giant pretzels.

4. Pin things to Pinterest. 

Things I want cook. Ways I want to do my hair. Babies I want to eat squeeze. Neville (always Neville). Places I want to live. Clothes I want to wear. Et cetera. (Pin with me!)

5. Design.

I have six empty frames in my Missouri bedroom, and I'd like to fill them with some prettified Bible verses or lyrics. What are your faves? Please share in the comments.

6. Design some more. 

I want to do more of these type portraits. And I want to figure out a way to print them nicely.

6. Update ze blog & ze portfolio.

I always get the hankering to update the layout over breaks. (And I'm still not satisfied with my thought bubble picture.) And I'm going to try to post every day. Look at me go.

7. Watch my shows.

Revenge. Pretty Little Liars. THE BACHELOR. The most dramatic season yet. (Always the most dramatic season yet.) What are you watching lately?

8. Elliptical!

(I made it a verb.) ENDORPHINS.

9. Read.

Maybe I will finally finish Sense and Sensibility or The Chronicles of Narnia. Maybe I'll just curl up in my bed and listen to the rest of Catching Fire. That counts as reading, right? Any other books you'd suggest for mental-break reading? I've also thought about picking up Bossypants or Mindy Kaling's new book.

What Christmas break activities am I forgetting? What will you be doing during break?