Simple Tips for How to Write a Great Christmas Letter This Year Post Preview: Stuck on how to start writing your Christmas letter this year? You’ll find helpful tips to help you write your best Christmas letter ever.
Even though you may connect with people throughout the year on sites or apps like Facebook and Instagram, it doesn’t mean that Christmas letters no longer serve a purpose. A letter included with your holiday cards is not only a wonderful way to share your year with the special people in your life, but it’s also a great opportunity to take stock of what has happened over the year.
Plus, while a Christmas card is lovely to look at, a Christmas letter can be especially wonderful for loved ones and those who live far away. It’s a way to connect and catch up in a more personal way.
Of course, sometimes it can be hard to sit down and try to sum up a whole year. It’s especially difficult during the holiday season, which can already be busy with gift buying, parties, and trying to get everything done. I hope that with the tips that I have for you, it will help you write a great Christmas letter this year.
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Simple Tips for How to Write a Great Christmas Letter This Year
1. Start Early
Don’t wait until the last minute to write your Christmas letter. While I know that the season can be busy, it’s a great idea to give yourself time to write your Christmas letter.
Try to schedule a little bit of downtime in the late fall to do the next step on my list. Maybe even make it a goal to have your letter finished and your Christmas cards picked out by December 1st. Personally, I love to get as many Christmas tasks done as possible before Advent begins. That frees me up to have a more mindful and focused Advent season.
2. Don’t Just Sit Down and Write. Brainstorm First!
While you might be tempted to just sit down and start writing, the best option for how to write a Christmas letter may be to spend some time brainstorming first. Of course, you know the way that you write best, but brainstorming first is extremely helpful.
When brainstorming, quickly jot down the major events, milestones, and other items that will be of interest to others. You won’t necessarily include everything in your letter that you come up with during your brainstorming session. However, I encourage you to freely write down the ideas.
If you need help with your brainstorming, your family can be a great source of information. Ask them to help you remember important things from the past year, and you may be surprised by what they remember.
Another way that I find particularly helpful is to scroll back through the pictures on my iPhone. Since I always have my phone with me and take plenty of pictures, it’s an easy way to remember the important events from our year.
3. Write Your Christmas Letter for Your Audience
Keep your readers in mind when you are writing your Christmas letter. What your grandma wants to read may be far different from what your co-workers want to read.
You can consider writing two different versions of your Christmas letter, especially if you want to be able to include a lot of detail in your letter. You can then decide if each person you send your Christmas card and letter to should receive your shorter letter or your more detailed letter.
Of course, I wouldn’t just go by what role that person has in your life. You probably have co-workers that are more like family and family that are more like acquaintances.
4. Share the Events of the Year but Don’t Over Share
Try to keep perspective when writing your letter. Write about the highlights of the year for your family. You can, of course, include both happy and sad information – keep it real.
However, you don’t need to get into every detail of your year. One letter we received last year even included a mention that someone had gotten a urinary tract infection at some point during the year as just one portion of their massive Christmas letter. Not only was that an odd addition to the letter that we didn’t need to know, but that is now the only information I remember from the letter. Do you really want to leave people with only a memory of the UTI you had last summer?
5. Try to Include Equal Information about All Family Members
Okay, so it may be harder to include equal information about adults. I find that when I have written Christmas letters, I can write about what the kids have done over the year more than what Eric and I have done over the year.
However, as I was writing this post, this was Eric’s suggestion to add and it was important to him.
I know that we probably all have a child or two that are involved in more activities, get more awards and accolades, and might even seem easier to write about. Don’t give in to that temptation. Try to write more equally about all of your children, if possible.
As Eric quipped when he made the suggestion to me, he thought that his family Christmas letters probably had large sections about his sister and might have had an added line, “Eric was also alive this year.” (It’s not funny, I know, but he made me laugh when he said that. At least he can find the humor in it as an adult.)
So, while that may be an exaggeration on his part, try not to show favoritism while writing. Kids notice that kind of thing and other people do too.
6. Think Outside the Box. Your Christmas Letter Doesn’t Have to be a Traditional Letter.
The year that I got the most compliments on our Christmas letter was the year that I decided not to write a letter. Instead, I used a lot of graphics and different text areas in Photoshop to make a family infographic for the year. It was a quick read and a visually appealing way to share our year.
In our family infographic, there was a section about trips we took, which were just bullet points listing the places, not details about it. There was a section with everyone’s favorite school subject, which was especially pertinent because we were homeschooling so the kids all had a favorite subject, I had one, and Eric had gone back to college so he had one too. There was also a quick section with how old everyone had turned on their birthdays that year, amongst several other sections.
Other fun ideas for how to write a Christmas letter that are non-traditional:
- Use a newspaper or newsletter layout with lots of different short sections or articles. Make sure to include pictures throughout. Here is a template you can get that is perfect for making your own newsletter-style letter.
- Record a short holiday video of your family talking about some of the highlights of your year. Then, include a link to where you have uploaded it online in with your Christmas card.
- Make a slideshow video to highlight your year. Then, include a link to where you have uploaded it with your Christmas card.
- If you have an artist in the family, make a short comic book or a comic strip that tells about your year.
- Make a playlist that you think encapsulates your year and share it with your Christmas card recipients. Consider including a short description of why each song was included.
- Record a podcast or audio message and send out the link to your Christmas mailing list. (Here are some basic podcasting equipment suggestions, but you can do it with any computer or device that can record sound.)
- Put lots of different photos on a page and put a short caption for each. Use just the pictures and captions to tell the story of your year.
Still stuck with how to make it unique? You could try one of these great Christmas letter templates.
7. Pick Decorative Paper for Your Christmas Letter
If you’re doing something like an infographic or newspaper-style letter, you’ll still want to go with plain paper. However, if your letter is more traditional, it can make it more visually appealing to choose decorative paper.
However, when you’re picking your paper, try to avoid solid green or red paper. Both of those can make your letter difficult to read. Also, avoid any decorative paper whose design is so overpowering that it might make your letter difficult to read.
Less is more, but a little decoration can add to the festive feel.
8. Include Photos (and Not Just of the Kids)
While this probably falls under your Christmas card choice, rather than just your Christmas letter, it’s always a good idea to include photographs.
And, yes, I know – it’s tempting to just include photos of the kids. However, people want to see you too!
A good option, if you don’t love the idea of only a family photograph, would be to use a Christmas card option that allowed you to include multiple photographs on the same card. That way, you can include both whole family pictures as well as individual pictures of the kids.
9. You Don’t Have to Only Have Traditional Christmas Card Photographs
On your Christmas card or in your Christmas letter, think about including some non-traditional pictures. While posed pictures are always nice, it’s sometimes even nicer to include pictures that let your family’s personality shine.
If you want to have a more traditional photo on your Christmas card, consider including one that shows off your family’s personalities, interests, or goofiness within your Christmas letter.
10. Keep the Christmas Cards You Receive Somewhere Special
This is just a little addition, as it doesn’t specifically apply to what you are sending.
I have one friend who keeps many of the picture Christmas cards they receive up all year on the cabinets in her kitchen. I have another friend how sticks them in her Bible. Both of these friends do these as reminders to think about their family and friends throughout the year and to pray for them as well.
Consider where you might keep the cards you receive as a way to think about the people that are important to you.
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