How To Write A Christmas Letter That Shines!

Less formal than a handwritten card but scads more traditional than a Facebook post, the Christmas letter is a busy parent’s go-to when it comes to updating friends and family on “the list.” Writing one can be a little intimidating, so here are some tips to help you get started.

Brainstorm an Outline Before You Start

Most writing has three parts: an introduction, a body and a conclusion. Begin your Christmas letter with a quick introduction that sets the mood. For example, is there snow on the ground? Are you hosting parties this year? Is the tree up? The body of your letter is the meat of your writing and requires more detail. Some people, for example, give each child a paragraph while others devote paragraphs to changes in their family’s life. The concluding paragraph should tie back to the introduction and get you out nicely.  If, for example, you mentioned parties in the introduction, you might conclude by saying that you look forward to seeing friends and family at some of them.

Get Off Your High Horse

Let’s say your daughter just won a Fulbright, your home will be featured on the Christmas tour, and your wife is giving the keynote at her firm’s annual convention. You may want to think twice about how you’re going to word that. Being proud of your family’s accomplishments is one thing, but be careful that your writing doesn’t leave you sounding like an arrogant prude. Christmas is the season for good will toward others and not everyone who reads your letter may be having the same banner year that you’re experiencing. Check your ego at the keyboard, and keep the bragging to a minimum.

Make ‘em Laugh

Mark Twain once said that “humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” Ain’t that the truth … but how do you go about writing it? Many consider humor writing to be an art; it will improve with practice. In the beginning, however, it helps to think of the process as if you’re writing a story, with characters. Parenthood is tough, but as we in the trenches know, it’s a lot of fun too. Think about the things that kept you chuckling for weeks after they happened, and, if you won’t embarrass anyone, include these in your letter. Fiction holds no candle to real life.

Format with the KISS Rule (Keep It Super Simple)

One goal of your Christmas letter is to make the reader enjoy reading it, and a great way to help ensure that happens is to respect your reader’s time. (This isn’t the only letter he’ll be receiving.) Write your Christmas letter using the same rules that you would apply to writing a resume: Keep your letter to one page, only list the highlights, and use an easy-to-read font like Times New Roman in a 12-point size. Tired eyes will thank you.

Check Your Supplies

Nothing is more frustrating than sitting down to create and assemble your Christmas letters only to discover that you’re low on supplies. Before you begin, make sure you have enough of the following: holiday stationery to print your letters on (buy early while still available), printer ink, photos (if you’re including them), envelopes and stamps. Be sure your address list is current. Start a new holiday tradition by getting the whole family involved in the assembly process.

Get It in the Mail

Many writers agree that a piece of writing should sit for 24 hours before being sent. Tinker with your letter until you’ve said what you want, and then forget about it for a day or two. When you come back to it fresh, proof a hard copy (read it backwards if you REALLY want to catch what your spell checker missed), make the final edits, print and send it on its merry way! Enjoy your last-minute shopping even more knowing this job has been checked off your list.

Remember Why You’re Doing This

Putting together a Christmas letter takes work, so it helps to remember why you’re doing it. One of the greatest reasons for writing a Christmas letter is that you will always have that snapshot of your family’s life. Not only will this be a treasure for your children, but you will also be leaving a legacy to your children’s children. Remember, too, that writers beget writers. If the finished product is something your family looks forward to assembling and reading, then one day you may be the recipient of a letter about your grandchildren.

Tanya Scherschel
About Tanya Scherschel

Author Tanya Scherschel is a wife and a mother of three, ages 14, 12 and 10.

Comments

  1. Tanya Scherschel says:

    Hi Sam and Gwen,
    It’s been so busy around here that I haven’t even looked at my computer for days. I’m glad to hear you were able to find something useful from this. Have a very merry Christmas.

    Tanya

  2. Thank you Tanya. This is the first time that looked for ideas as to how to write a meanigful Christmas letter. Every year we have been told that family and friends “enjoy” our letters. We have certainly been boastful of our children’s achievements, including every little detail, thus exceeding one page. Humor – that has never been consciously included.

    Thank you. We will enjoy the process much more/. Thank you.

    Sam and Gwen Purushotham

Comment Policy: All viewpoints are welcome, but comments should remain relevant. Personal attacks, profanity, and aggressive behavior are not allowed. No spam, advertising, or promoting of products/services. Please, only use your real name and limit the amount of links submitted in your comment.


Leave a Reply