Smith & Doe or Smith-Doe?
June 11, 2014 9:27 AM   Subscribe

What's the best way to reflect our family's last names on a return address stamp?

Yes, this is critically important and well worth my question quota. I never changed my last name on marriage, a decision that my husband and I are 100% comfortable with. I didn't hyphenate - I'm just "Jane Smith" and my husband is "John Doe." Our kids have the last name Doe. I want to get a return address stamp made, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what I want it to say.

The one thing I love about single-last name families is that you can call them "The Does" and it's cutesy and easy. I've typically called us "The Smith and Doe Family", which is okay but is clunky and might come off as pretentious. My husband, who immediately followed up this suggestion with the caveat that he really doesn't care, proposed "Smith-Doe Family" which is shorter and reads less oddly, but I don't want people to think I've hyphenated my name suddenly, after 8 years of marriage. But I guess keeping the word "family" might help make it clear that it's referring to all of us, not just my name.

So, any votes on "Smith and Doe" vs "Smith-Doe"? Any other ideas I haven't thought of yet?
posted by handful of rain to Human Relations (38 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I love "Smith & Doe" - sounds like you guys are a partnership (in crime? in world domination?) because it reminds me of a law firm or PI firm or something cool. To that end I'd leave off the "Family."
posted by amaire at 9:29 AM on June 11, 2014 [26 favorites]

Another possibility, depending on the number of issue and space limits: Each person gets his or her own line?
posted by gnomeloaf at 9:31 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm in a similar situation and have sometimes used something like

Smith * Doe (pick your favorite unicode in place of the *)
123 Address

(Though with the caveat that we're just two people; I'm not sure if this extends as nicely to a bigger group)
posted by heyforfour at 9:33 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Seconding amaire: Smith & Doe is better than Smith-Doe --- the hyphenated 'Smith-Doe' tends to imply that that's your joint name: John Smith-Doe and Mary Smith-Doe. 'Smith & Doe' says it's at least two people with the separate names of Smith, and Doe.

(Alternatively: Smith/Doe? The slash doesn't have the same connotations as the hyphen.)
posted by easily confused at 9:34 AM on June 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

My family is the "Smith Doe Family" when people usually refer to us. Our set up is the same as yours dad and kids share Doe, mom is Smith (never changed when married).

If I was making address labels I'd probably make them say "Smith & Doe" though because that makes more sense, this family is made up of Smiths and Does. This is how I plan on doing it since I don't want to change my last name either.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:34 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Seconding amaire. Embrace your kickass partnership. Like an early 60s spy couple.
posted by novelgazer at 9:36 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just to go completely outside the box, how about "Jane Smith and the Does"? Has the added benefit of making you sound like a 50s rock 'n roll group.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:36 AM on June 11, 2014 [15 favorites]

My extended family (full of couples with two different last names) does all of "Smith-Doe Family," "Smith/Doe Family", "Smith Doe Family", and "Smith & Doe Family", basically interchangeable. I tend towards the hyphen route with my husband just because that seems like the most literal translation of how I say it ("Dinner at the Smith-Doe house tonight!"), but honestly it doesn't make much of a difference.
posted by brainmouse at 9:36 AM on June 11, 2014

I think I would go with Doe & Smith because folks sometimes think in terms of Mr. and Mrs.
posted by crw at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2014

"Jane Smith and her Fabulous Does" (Ack, beaten to it by Rock Steady!)

I know multiple families that have a cutesy non-official family name on their address stamps. Like with one of them it's a combination of their two last names. With another one it's a combination of one of their first names and the other's last name. We all know it's nobody's real last name.
posted by mskyle at 9:37 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Another alternative is not to put your names at all. I don't tend to put even my own name on a return address. If the mail gets returned, the post office can deliver to my mailbox without my name.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:43 AM on June 11, 2014

We use a + sign.

Mine + His/kids
posted by Swisstine at 9:45 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

We do Smith-Doe on the top line, though neither of us has a hyphenated name. It has yet to cause any confusion.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:50 AM on June 11, 2014

We use Smith/Doe or leave off the name entirely and just put the address.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:52 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

We are in the same boat. We usually go with Smith/Doe, and will
continue to do so once baby precious (who is due TODAY gosh dangit) finally makes an appearance.
posted by hungrybruno at 9:54 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Smith, Doe & Co.
Smith, Doe et al.
Smith & Doe Household

Really, I just use whatever they happen to print on the free address labels that come with the junk mail.
posted by zamboni at 9:58 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I had four lines to work with, I used

Jane Smith & John Doe
Kid1 & Kid2 Smith Doe (since each child had my last name as a second middle name)
100 Street Address
City, State 10000

Recently, when stuck with only three lines, I went with

Smith & Doe
100 Street Address
City, State 10000
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 10:01 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

We do the + sign too.
posted by Mchelly at 10:01 AM on June 11, 2014

Smith, Doe, Doe, & Doe

(or to reflect however many kids you have)
(or without the Oxford comma)
posted by Etrigan at 10:03 AM on June 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Usually I leave names off the return address. If I included them, though, I'd probably go with the slash suggestion. Smith/Doe.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:17 AM on June 11, 2014

We just have First Name & First Name on our stamp but our next one will probably be Smith & Doe. (We have a stamp though not labels, so it's a little bigger and with a different design.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was going to suggest "The Smith and Doe Family" but I like this idea a lot:

Smith * Doe (pick your favorite unicode in place of the *)

posted by phunniemee at 10:45 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't have return address labels but when I send mail from me and my fiance I write Smith/Doe
posted by radioamy at 11:00 AM on June 11, 2014

I use Smith & Doe. I have used our full names, but that was too long for one line since my husband's last name is 11 letters.
posted by Safiya at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I write multi-name addresses including my own as Smith/Doe or Smith/Doe Family, depending on context. The slash seems to preclude assumptions about what we've all done with our names. For my friends and family, it's inclusive of side cases like a foster kid or multi-family household.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:09 AM on June 11, 2014

My inlaws have two last names that are easily smashed together, and pretty recognisable as a portmanteau of both of their names.

"Smoe"? "Doith"?

Of course, It doesn't really work with my last name. The first half of it is synonymous with penis... (yes elementary school was fun, thanks for asking)
posted by fontophilic at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2014

We do Smith/Doe too, which I copied from a friend with the same situation.
posted by purpleclover at 11:53 AM on June 11, 2014

Instead of a slash, we use a vertical: Smith | Doe
posted by carmicha at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Last & Last is always a good option, but for personal mail I have switched to First & First.

My use of First & First started because I had a lot of friends get married around the same time, and I had a hard time keeping track of who had changed their name and who hadn't. But now I just like it--it matches how I actually describe couples in conversation, and it makes clear that the mail is addressed to both of them, even if they do share a last name. The name line is almost never used for delivery anyway, so there is no real need to keep it formal.
posted by insoluble uncertainty at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Occupants? or "To whom it may concern"?
posted by DanSachs at 1:09 PM on June 11, 2014

We do Smith/Doe on return addresses.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2014

I'd go with:

Jane, John, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and Rudy.
posted by argonauta at 1:41 PM on June 11, 2014

I've had this experience in that my stepdad and mom have different last names than us kids - for family events with invites, etc., he always referred to us as a combination of the two names, as fontophilic mentioned above. i.e. Welcome to the Smoe house! It's mostly confusing in written correspondence. It's worked for our family, but I realize that it takes some getting used to. ("Do we know anyone named Smoe??") Once it's established, it's kind of awesome!
posted by brynna at 3:04 PM on June 11, 2014

We do "Jane Doe and John Smith" here in the Corpse household (only with our actual names).
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:14 PM on June 11, 2014

Our mixed name family has a stamp that says "jeff, katrina and gabe"
posted by ersatzkat at 6:30 PM on June 11, 2014

I'm in the same boat and over the years I've done Smith & Doe and Smith + Doe.
posted by 58 at 9:22 PM on June 11, 2014

Friends use
The Smith Doe Family (no punctuation at all)
on theirs, and it's always been clear to me that their family includes two last names.
posted by orange (sherbet) rabbit at 3:42 PM on June 12, 2014

The way our PTA lists dual-name families is similar to how I instinctively do it:

Thanks to families that have contributed to the annual fund:
James/Wilson Family
Watson/Jackson Family

When I'm inviting people to our home with an invitation, I say:

The Smith/Johnson Family invites you to our Annual Halloween Party.

I'm the only "Smith" and the rest of them are "Johnsons." I know many other families in this exact situation. I didn't realize there was a proper way to do this, but in my community, it turns out that my instincts and those of others have matched up.

And most relevantly, I do return addresses as :

123 Main Street
Anytown, USA 12345
posted by tk at 5:08 PM on June 12, 2014

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