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Why I Love Holiday Letters

Holiday letters… most people either love ’em or hate ’em! I happen to be one who LOVES them.

Lynnette reading cousin Kristina's holiday letter - and loving every minute of it! I really enjoy receiving holiday letters from my friends and relatives each year. Heck, I even enjoy reading holiday letters from long-lost 3rd time removed cousins and friends-of-friends!…

As long as they include:

1. “Real” stuff
Don’t just write about your perfect little family & your upwardly mobile careers — I wanna feel your pain, share your joys, and wonder about the future right along with you. Just be real, OK?

2. Things I didn’t already know
This is the time to spill a few family secrets — give us some insight on what REALLY makes your family tick.

3. Humor
There’s nothing better than for the author — someone who’s typically too busy to stop & smell the roses — to use the holiday letter as a form of long-overdue therapy… an outlet for seeing the fun and funny things behind the all the little messes and tragedies. Have fun with it!

4. Pages and pages… and more pages
Ideally, there will be so much going on in YOUR life that I’m interested in hearing about that I won’t have time to fret over all that’s NOT going right in mine. That is the payoff of a good holiday letter, is it not?… living vicariously through others.

5. Photos
Toss a family photo or two into the mix before you send it out. Or, scan/photocopy one into the actual letter itself — black & white reproductions aren’t so bad. People are very visual creatures.

Why I Like Receiving Holiday Letters

  • I appreciate the fact that someone has actually taken the time in this crazy-busy world of ours to sit down and jot out some of the “little-known facts” about their family. (I’ve always been a junkie for “behind-the-scenes” kind of stuff!) Most of us are far too “busy” to waste time compiling such meaningless data. I mean, as the author of a holiday letter, you’ve gotta ask yourself, “What GOOD is going to come from this anyway?” and “Why should I take the time when I’ve got so much other stuff to do?” The answer my friend is this: Because we all need a good laugh. You, the writer. And us, the reader.
  • I like that holiday letters can be used as an outlet for a normally “serious” author to be “funny” for a change. Most times, after I read someone’s holiday letter, I’m surprised by their humor (as in… that they HAVE some!). I mean, traditionally holiday letters are written by the wife/mother of the household — the one who’s far too busy juggling balls and managing details to actually see the “lighter side” of it all. But, for someone to summarize their own life happenings (the good and the bad), and to ultimately see the humor underlying it all… that’s cool. That’s honest. That’s REAL. But don’t sweat it… You don’t have to be a comedian in your writing style. Just write it how you feel it, and the humor will shine through all on its own.
  • Usually the only way I can get an updated photograph is when it’s accompanied by a letter or greeting card. So, don’t forget to toss a photo or two into your holiday letter. But don’t go to the trouble of a having a professional holiday photo made just for this… Trust me when I say: no one cares about those picture-perfect holiday shots as much as YOU do. Sorry. We’re just as happy with a photo taken at Grandmas or one from a family camping trip. Whatever you do, make sure that YOU are in the photo! Whether you’re aging gracefully or not… get over it. We want to see photos of you and your entire FAMILY. 

    Tips For Writing Holiday Letters

  • Choose dysfunction over perfection. Don’t hide all the silly stuff just to make it seem like you’ve got the perfect family. Be REAL from start to finish. If you want us to think that your house actually has a white picket fence around it… you’re not fooling anyone.
  • Share something new & interesting about a few specific incidents, rather than re-hash every single detail about what every single family member did last year. Just cuz they did something, doesn’t — in and of itself — make it interesting.
  • Since you can’t go wrong talking about kids, go ahead and fill it to the brim with all their funny antics, personal accomplishments, and what makes them so wonderful — BUT don’t overlook the fact that we’re all adults here, and we want to hear about YOU too! Tell us about YOUR funny antics, YOUR personal accomplishments, and what made YOU so wonderful this past year too! You’re never too old…
  • Don’t worry so much about the letter OR its contents, just sit down and WRITE. The best holiday letters don’t have an introduction, a middle, and an end. Consider writing yours as life happens — haphazardly! Jot a bit here (then go clean up baby puke)… Add a few more paragraphs there (then take the dog to the vet)… Then stick in a few: “You won’t believe what happened the day we…” I dig the chaotic style over the neat and tidy perfect family holiday letter ANY day! In fact, you could write your entire holiday letter on a series of paper napkins …if that’s the particular mood you are in that day. It’s not about having the best LOOKING holiday letter. It’s about being real with the friends and relatives you love, and who love you — just for who you are.
    Holiday Letters, Anyone?

    Now that I’ve probably scared off anyone who was potentially thinking of sending out a holiday letter this year from sending one (…and I’m certain not to GET any holiday letters this year!), all I really meant to say is this:

    —> Just have FUN with it, and try to make it as fun for you to write as it is for us to read.

    …and to all a good night!

    P.S. I hope I get some holiday letters this year.