Sending Christmas cards is a holiday tradition. Many people sign their name in a generic card. Others design a custom card with family photos from their year. And yet others draft a lengthy letter depicting the highlights from the past 12 months.
If you haven’t written a Christmas letter before, this is the year to start! You have an opportunity to express your heart and share your life with every reader – family, friends, co workers, and neighbors included.
If you’ve been writing an annual letter for many years, this is still for you. Don’t get stuck in the grind of listing accomplishments and bragging about family vacations. Offer your recipients an even better glimpse of who you are.
Follow these 5 steps to write a Christmas letter worth reading!
1 – Start off with a positive statement
Too many Christmas letters begin with “Wow, I can’t believe it’s already Christmas again. This year has flown by!” Everyone says that, everyone agrees, so there’s no need to state it again.
Instead of lamenting over how quickly the year passed by, begin your note with a positive statement.
- “I’m grateful for Christmas card season, because it gives me an opportunity to connect with each of you!”
- “We’ve had such a joyful year in our household!”
- “My mind is swirling with wonderful thoughts of how you are celebrating this season.”
- “I’m sitting in the light of my Christmas tree as I pen this letter. I hope you are reading it beside your lovely tree as well!”
2 – Summarize family details in one paragraph
There are plenty of things you could express about each person in your immediate family, and a dozen reasons to brag about their accomplishments. But stick with the top one or two highlights per person. Plus, grown children feel uncomfortable when you spend an entire paragraph detailing their year-in-review.
- Don’t brag. Lists of achievements can be boring, especially if you list the top ten per person. It can also sound like your bragging. Instead, be humble and don’t over exaggerate the details.
- Emphasize your emotions more than the accomplishment. Most people write “Suzie made straight A’s again for the 10th year in a row!” Your readers already know she’s intelligent (if they’re been paying attention to your previous 9 Christmas letters). Alternatively, write “We’re so proud of Suzie’s academic efforts” or “It’s been a joy to see our daughter thrive at school and learning again this year.”
- Detail personalities over actions. You children are maturing every year, so your family members assume their interests will morph as they grow up. Breeze through the short list of what each kid is interested in (soccer, dump trucks, ballet, art, etc.) and put their personality in the spotlight. “Billy has such a compassionate heart and encouraging spirit.” “Suzie has an unquenchable curiosity about the world, ample room in her heart for new friends, and a talent for inspiring other people with her art.”
3 – Share a few highlights from the year
Now that you’ve talked about each family member individually, you can recap your family highlights. This is the best place for a few pictures! Pictures are made to enhance words, so limit yourself to less than 5 photos, preferably only the best 2 or 3.
- Talk about a family vacation: where you went, and the most memorable moment.
- Share big family news: if you moved to a new house or city, a new tradition that began in your home, or someone special who came to visit (like grandparents).
- A funny story: Did you kids do something that you can’t stop talking about? Is there a particular memory that everyone likes to tell when friends come to visit? Capture that for your readers and they are sure to be enthralled with your letter this year.
4 – Focus on the reader
What’s the point of writing a Christmas letter? To tell your reader about your family’s year. What’s the purpose of a phone call? To talk about yourself and to hear about the other person as well.
Assume that your Christmas letter is like a phone call. Would you spend the entire conversation talking about your own family? Probably not. You would ask about their family as well. Writing a letter should be no different!
- Write for your audience and not yourself. As you write, pretend that you are writing to a specific friend or one particular family member. This will ensure that you’re reader-focused instead of self-focused.
- Be relatable. Don’t pretend that your year was perfect or that your Christmas season has been nothing but peaceful.
- Write a letter that you would be interested to read!
5 – End on a sincere emotional note
What’s really on your mind as you pen this letter? Are you sad to see the Christmas magic dissipate from your children who are no longer little kids? Are you cherishing every precious moment of your Advent traditions? Are you hopeful that you’ll be able to hear stories from your grandparents while you’re gathered together for Christmas?
End your letter with a personal message of your sincere emotions this season. Like your reader, you’re fully immersed in the season – and that comes with a variety of feelings. Honor and respect yourself and your reader by closing your annual letter with a genuine, heartfelt sympathy.
A Christmas card worth giving
If you follow these guidelines for your annual Christmas letter, you will feel vulnerable. You’re exposing your true heart, your sincere emotions, and your genuine feelings.
You’re trusting that your reader will receive it well and honor you in return. Be aware that writing this sort of note will make your more attractive, relatable, and authentic to your friends and family.
That’s a Christmas gift worth giving!