I always use ‘Dear Folks,’ I like its informality and its whimsical nature.
I’ll sometimes use “Ladies and Gentlemen:,” especially if it’s likely to be routed to more than one person.
I’m in the ‘it depends’ camp myself.
My salutations (when I use them at all) range from
Dear Brothers and Sisters (when addressing my fellow firefighters)
Dear Power Monkeys (when addressing the power company)
I find that adding “monkeys” to just about anything makes the whole situation that much more amusing, if only to me.
If it’s truly unknown who the receiver will be (as in a reference), I’ll use To Whom It May Concern (I think there’s nothing wrong with it for that). If I have a particular position in mind (CEO, Acme Corp, etc), I’ll use Dear Sir or Madam. I will make a reasonable effort to find out the person’s name if I can.
[Slight Hijack]Americans seem to sign off with “Yours Truly”. In Australia, we were taught to use “Yours Faithfully” where we didn’t know the name (Dear Sir), and “Yours Sincerely” where we did (Dear Mr Bloggs). Is “Yours Truly” universal, or does it have specific rules?[/Slight Hijack]
I use “To Whomever Does All the Work Around There” for any retail type correspondence
zombie or no
I sometimes start a letter as:
Re: (whatever I am writing the letter for)
I suppose “Greetings, Meat Puppets,” is right out. Perhaps go pseudo-medieval: “Be it Know to All Who May Read These Words:”.
The closing for that one would be “So say I, Name, and so I do swear and maintain until death take me or the world ends.”