Writing Christmas Letters

Enclose a Christmas Letter With Your Card

Who Wants A Christmas Letter?

Who doesn’t love receiving letters tucked into their Christmas cards? Letter writing is quickly becoming a lost art. With the advent of email, texting and social media such as facebook, etc. letter writing is becoming obsolete. For some, and perhaps especially for your older folks, receiving a Christmas letter is as good as receiving a gift. Do it right and they’ll be clamoring for one every year.

In composing a Christmas Letter my first rule of thumb is to avoid bragging. No one wants to receive a letter containing a rundown of someone else’s wonderful year of new car, new house, perfect kids and perfect life, especially when they may feel they never measure up. If they’ve been driving the same old car for 10 years due to lack of funds, chances are they don’t really want to hear about your new Mercedes. That’s not to say you can’t tell them about your successes, but temper it with those little bits of ridiculousness that happens to us all. Likewise, in the event your year sucked, no one wants to hear only gloom and doom. You are supposed to be spreading holiday cheer, not have them crying in their beer.

I wrote Christmas letters for several years and looked forward to doing so each year. Then one year my boss received a Christmas letter from a cousin. He and his secretary made so much fun of his cousin’s letter that I began to second guess whether anyone really enjoyed my letters. I didn’t send one that year, but then folks began to call and send cards asking why they hadn’t received my Christmas letter. That gave me the encouragement I needed to do one the following year. It’s a good feeling to know you’ve given someone something they enjoy. Many recipients keep the letters out during the Christmas Season so other family members can read them also.

Content

The most common comments I hear regarding any kind of letter is that people appreciate a “newsy” letter. So, give them newsy. They also love to laugh. So, give them humor.

One year my sister received a Christmas card with the friend’s family photo. When talking with her friend on the phone, my sister commented on their beautiful home shown in the picture. Her friend said “Oh, that’s our neighbor’s home”. Then my sister commented on the precious puppy that was shown in the photo with the family. Her friend said “Oh, that’s not our dog either; it belongs to the neighbor too. He just got in the picture.” The two of them had a big laugh about the whole thing and I was able to incorporate that into my Christmas letter that year, as a humorous comparison to keeping up with the Jones.

I have used a rundown of events by the month in my Christmas letter. When using this approach to a Christmas letter, it is best to jot down things that happen throughout the year so you won’t forget when you begin to write your letter. Write down the wonderful things that happened, but don’t forget to temper your letter with those interesting little tidbits of silliness and struggle that comes with everyday life. If you have a gloom and doom tale you feel you must include, counter it with a positive that has emerged from the rubble.

One year it seemed like we had several things that happened during the year that were “firsts” for us. My son had his first real date that year and also his first wreck in his first vehicle. You can make that gloom and doom or you can use it in a humorous way. I turned 50 that year. An excerpt from my letter: “I got my first “old lady” card at the local department store. . .the one where you sign up after age 50 to get a ten percent discount on purchases on the second Tuesday of each month.”

Keep your content to one page, if possible, and certainly no more than two pages. Make the print large enough for elderly people to read easily in the event you send your letter to people in that age group.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it is always best to end your Christmas letter on a positive note. Leave them with something to reminisce about or reflect on, but in a positive way. Following are a couple conclusions from my past Christmas letters:

Excerpt #1: “I’m ever mindful of the fact that the year’s events will eventually add up to what Mother used to call “storing up memories”. For now, it’s time to hit rewind, to savor the years more spectacular moments one more time before stashing them away for a time. Our wish for you is a Happy Holiday Season and a good stash of memories.”

Excerpt#2: “We’ll soon be zipping off into the New Year. We’re working hard to pack up all left over baggage and send it off on the tailwind of 2012. Remember that memories are precious and time is fleeting. It is up to each of us to make what we will of our New Year. We’ll be here, cheering you on. Hope you will do the same.”

Paper and Mailing

Christmas theme stationary is easily found online with Amazon or in your local Walmart or office supply store. Make your own by using clip art available when creating your own document on your personal computer. You may also simply use colored copy paper for a festive look. Don’t forget to use holiday stamps. It is my preference to shoot for December 15th as the last date to mail my Christmas letters/cards. That allows the recipient to share it with his/her family in the event they have an early Christmas gathering as some folks do when there are multiple families to visit during the holidays.

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