How to write a holiday missive people will actually read.
Nothing says “holiday season” — short of digging out the black velvet and feeling guilty about not having any cash when passing charity bell-ringers — as much as newsy Christmas letters. In the Facebook age, with people already drowning in daily minutiae from everyone in their social network, the traditional Christmas letter can seem like a musty relic. On the other hand, social media’s constant deluge can make a thoughtful, well-crafted summary of the year’s “greatest hits” a welcome change, and there’s still nothing like seeing familiar handwriting peeking out from beneath a pile of bills.
Here’s how to craft a Christmas letter that will arrive in the mail like a burst of pine-scented fresh air.
Dear Enraptured Recipient:
We all know “another year has come and gone” and, while it may be true that “time flies,” neither are original observations. Pull in your friends and family with something that will make them want to read more. To wit: “Who knew one measly calendar year could find so many changes around our household? I’ve finally given up the battle against my encroaching gray hair, Jim has started a band with some of the other neighborhood dads and Katelyn is now pursuing a career as a zoologist. OK, not really, but she did get a new pet guinea pig.”
Make ’em laugh.
Unless you’re starring in a new reality TV series about life in a sensory-deprivation tank, you probably had an amusing experience or two this year. Share a funny anecdote — the vacation that coincided with a three-day tropical storm, the science project that almost blew up the garage — and invite recipients to chuckle along with you.
Keep it real.
Nothing invites eye-rolling like a Christmas letter full of airbrushed bragging (“Jim was promoted to vice president, Trevor got a full ride to Yale and my cheekbones have never been more sculpted!”). But it’s possible to go too far the other direction as well. No one wants to read a dramatic novella about what issues you’re working on in therapy or your year of fending off debt collectors. Strike a balance by being celebratory and appropriately self-deprecating.
Spread the love.
Did you find a new recipe you loved this year? How about a book you couldn’t put down, a movie you thought was terrific or an artist whose work resonated with you? Maybe someone tipped you off to a killer food blog. Pick something you were excited to discover this year and share it, skipping, obviously, the home recording of your husband’s garage band.
Instead of going with the standard, staged family portrait, choose a couple of shots that show your family in its natural habitat. Maybe there’s a shot of Jim pretending he’s Ringo Starr on his new drum set (with Katelyn cringing in the background), or a pic of you holding Nibbles, the incontinent guinea pig, for the first time. Candid, fun shots win out over plastic smiles every time.