One of my favorite parts of Christmas is reading the personal notes and Christmas letters that come in the mail. I enjoy catching up with people I haven’t seen in a long time. I started reflecting on what makes a great Christmas letter.
The best Christmas letters are easy to read and contain memorable information. They are written well, get to the point, and look nice. Whether sent on their own or tucked in a Christmas card, the letter can be a fun part of the season. Here are what I think are the secrets to a great letter!
Write It for the Reader
Write your Christmas letter for the reader. Think about the recipients and what they would like to hear. What would they find interesting? What would be irrelevant to them? Consider what the recipients would enjoy and focus there.
Hit the Highlights
The key of a well-written Christmas letter is to catch everyone up on life, not put them to sleep or wish they had never opened the mail. Too many names and unimportant details will cause the reader’s eyes to glaze over. Avoid giving an extended blow-by-blow account of everything that happened every week of every month. Choose a couple of the best parts of the year and write about them.
It is definitely okay to include information about something sad or disappointing. Being real is a good thing and most people appreciate honesty. But most people don’t feel the need to know every detail of every major and minor event over the previous year. Give them quality to read, not quantity.
Make It Fun and Memorable
Add humor. Have the baby write it. Tell it from the perspective of your toddler. Allow the cat or dog to do an exposé on the family. Taking the perspective of a normally non-letter writing member of the family adds a bit of whimsy and will probably draw most people in very quickly.
The first few years of Caroline’s life, we wrote our Christmas letter from her perspective. People LOVED them. People would reference those Christmas letters verbatim months later.
Choose an appropriate Christmas stationary whether it is contemporary, cutesy, country or classic. The easiest way to do this is to choose some of the Christmas stationary available at office supply stores or order Christmas stationary online .
Keep It to One Page
Again, think of the reader. If at all possible, limit it to double-spaced on the front of the page. Definitely do not make it longer than the front and back of an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper. If someone pulls your letter out of the envelope and feels overwhelmed by the length before even starting, it may never get read at all. Play around with different fonts and point sizes to find what works, but avoiding making it so tiny that people find it difficult to read. It may fit on a page, but if it is a hassle to read, it will never get read.
Proofread the letter, put it away for a day and then proofread it again. Then ask someone else to proofread it and offer feedback. A fresh look at it from someone else will almost always bring about a couple of worthwhile suggestions to make it even better.
Writing a Christmas letter each year is a great way to connect with friends and family. What are some of your tips for a great Christmas letter? What was in the best Christmas letter you remember receiving?