How To Write A Perfect Holiday Letter
There’s really nothing nicer – and these days more of a surprise — than getting a hand-addressed card in the mail. Whether it’s an elegantly printed and personalized holiday card or a crafty one you make yourself, it’s bound to be appreciated more than just another e-card or group greeting on social media. These tips on how to write a perfect holiday letter are in partnership with Seek Visibility.
What makes a card really special is including a note you took the time to write. Whether it’s only a few lines or a full-blown letter, adding the warmth of that additional touch brings you almost as close as a visit.
We’ve all gotten Christmas letters that are full of humble bragging about this or that one’s accomplishments or endless details of someone’s summer vacation with people you never heard of, and they can feel like punishment to read. So how to avoid the traps and make your letter a holiday joy to receive? Here are some tips:
Consider Who You’re Sending It To
Holiday letters filled with family doings should be sent only to relatives and good friends. For business associates and people you know casually, a handwritten few words on a card is more appropriate than a letter that suffers from the dreaded Too Much Information. Think of it this way: if you wouldn’t tell your daughter’s soccer coach about your anniversary trip to Las Vegas, don’t send him a holiday letter.
Open With Something Unique
It’s easy, and oh so boring, to start your letter with the typical “We can’t believe it’s the end of another year” or “Gee, where has the time gone?” Everyone knows where we are on the calendar. Some are wistful about it, and others are just happy to have gotten out alive. Think about how you’re feeling about the past year and you might have your opening sentence. For example:
- It’s been a hectic year for us but we’ve made it through and hope you’re looking forward to a happy and peaceful holiday season as much as we are.
- We’ve had a year full of what we like to think of as mixed blessings, and we hope you’ve had more than your share of good times and are happy to greet the new year.
Organize Your Thoughts
Ask everyone in the family to make a list of the year’s notable events, and then narrow it down to the most significant. Think about the things you’d like to know about your friends’ families and leave out the kind of stuff that would make you gag or yawn. Go for quality rather than quantity. You could write about the events in chronological order or devote a paragraph to each family member. But if you reach the end of page one before you’re finished, it’s time to stop and start editing things out. Anything over one page is overkill.
Write With A Light Touch
Humor is always welcome in a holiday letter, and it can make the difference between sounding boastful or simply grateful for good fortune. By all means say how proud it made you all if your spouse was a four-day champion on Jeopardy, or your son was accepted to his college choice. But you could also add mention you got the worst haircut of your life in July and now have the largest collection of hats in the Western hemisphere.
What If There’s Sad News?
If a family member has been very ill or even passed away, a holiday letter is not the place to announce it to people who don’t already know. If there’s someone on your list who isn’t aware but you think would like to know, add a handwritten note on the card or letter, or better yet, pick up the phone. If omitting mention of a loss seems wrong, then you might simply say, for example, “as most of you know, our dear Aunt Betty passed away in April and we all did a day of community service in her honor.”
Pay Attention To Details
Don’t ignore the red squiggly lines Spellcheck puts under misspelled words, but beware that the wrong words can still slip by if they’re real words. Sight and site for instance, or your and you’re. Make sure you spell place names correctly, too. So proofread carefully and have someone else take a second look at the letter before you send it out.
Close With Warmth
Include your wishes for a happy holiday and new year at the end of the letter itself, but then sign the letter by hand, preferably with each family member adding his or her own name. You could add Rover’s paw print, too, if there’s room.
What are your tips for writing a perfect holiday letter?
Debbie Mc says
We’ve never done a letter – but I think it would be fun to start. Much more personal and not relying purely on social media to share your family’s news and events.
Amy H says
That is a great idea for if you’re sharing bad/sad news in a letter. I haven’t done a letter for the family in a long while. Maybe this year I will get one done.
Getting a hand written letter is always wonderful that too during christmas season. i am going to send out some letters for family and friends. thanks for this wonderful post.
Melanie Walsh says
I need to get on top of my holiday cards early this year. Last year, I barely got them out before the holiday. Having a good plan for what to write will make the task even easier for me.
These are some wonderful tips. I wonder if Holiday letters will ever make a comeback. My family never did anything like that but it would be nice to have the letters for to pass down for memories.
Monica Y says
I am so bad at writing letters, I normally prefer phone calls but I will try to follow your advice here and send a few letters this year
I send Holiday cards with just a little note or a simple greeting, but I have never tried sending a Holiday letter nor have I experienced receiving one. Thank you for the tips.
Lisa Favre says
I wish more people still did holiday letters. I have a friend who emails holiday newsletters to all her friends and family, which is really cute!
Shelly Dixon says
I wish people would write old school letters like this. We’ve lost that art and I miss it.
These are some great ideas. Usually, mine are very brief or I get a card and sign it. This year I’ll have to switch things up a bit.
Ruth I says
This is pretty nostalgic.I don’t think people are doing this anymore. It would be nice to get a letter this holidays.
This is a great reminder to do this for the holiday season! I may do this in a few weeks!
Jenn @ EngineerMommy says
A perfect holiday letter can be challenging but I think you shared some great tips. I write a lot of letters during the holiday season.
I have not done one of these in years! I should do that again! I think it is fun to catch up with people that you don’t get to see during that year. I might have to do these again.
Denay DeGuzman says
What wonderful tips for writing holiday letters. And you’re right: it can be a little tricky mentioning the loss of a family member or close friend while still being peppy and full of holiday cheer.
Ashley Saunders says
I know someone who does this. I don’t have the time! Kudos to you for getting it done!
Ice Cream n Sticky Fingers says
I must admit that it has been a very long time since I have written a hand note. It’s not that it isn’t an excellent thing to do but it is something that the current generation lacks since email is so convenient. I was a young adult when the Internet boomed and took off. It is amazing how far it has come but at the same time, it has made us lazy in certain areas. Thank you for the reminder that sending a small holiday letter could make someone’s day.
I really enjoyed reading this post. These are great tips. I would love to send a letter this holiday season.
Amber Myers says
These are some great ideas. Normally I just make mine brief like “yo happy holidays, hope it’s a great one!” I need to start thinking about ordering some cards.