There is nothing like writing a family Christmas letter that strikes fear into the heart of a reluctant writer. Most would rather just slide the cute family photo into the envelope and call it good. I confess, I have failed to write a Christmas letter more times than not.
But before you seal those envelopes, I’d like to encourage you in this — a Christmas letter can be more than an update to friends and family. It can be a thoughtful and fun reflection to enjoy for years to come.
For most of us, the last time we sat down to write anything longer than a text message was during high school or college. We forget that the act of writing – even for those who claim not to write well – can be more worthwhile than you think. Writing can be therapeutic, encouraging, eye-opening, and a keepsake for years to come.
Someday, you’ll stumble across your old Christmas letter and smile. You’ll get a glimpse of what life was like in the midst of raising kids. Your grown children will also love reading your perspective on their childhood years.
Writing your Christmas letter also gives you the gift of taking a thoughtful look at your year. What was hard? What was hilarious? What was beautiful? Thinking over these questions allows us to sort through the events of our lives instead of barging forward into the next year like an overtired toddler at the Chick-fil-A playplace.
Have I convinced you yet?
Here’s my advice if you’re writing a Christmas letter for the first time:
Keep it brief.
You may be tempted to recount every event from the year, but you’ll overwhelm your friends and families with pages and pages of 8 point font. The front side of a single sheet of paper is plenty. Instead, save the long version for your immediate family to enjoy.
Avoid the mystery author.
Many times I’ll read a Christmas letter and say, “Who wrote this?” The letter reads as though some mysterious freelance writer stopped by to write your family’s news.
“Gerald celebrated his fifth year at the Raisinet factory, while Janet started her own amateur Wiffleball league.”
Instead, write, “My husband, Gerald celebrated his fifth year at the Raisinet factory, while I started my own amateur Wiffleball league.”
Now, if you’re still totally intimidated by the thought of sitting down to write, here are a five easy approaches to get you started:
5 Fun and Easy Christmas Letter Ideas:
Take the letters of your family’s last name and list them vertically down the page. Then think of one bit of news you can share that begins with each letter.
2. By the Numbers
Think of your year in terms of numbers, and then include a short description below each number.
412 school pick-ups.
With kids in ninth and third grade, it’s hard to believe my days as the family Uber driver are limited.
18 basketball games.
Christopher played point guard for the team this year.
13 Hallmark Christmas movies.
I’ll take a happy ending any day.
1 thankful family.
We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas this year!
You’ll be surprised how creatively you can share about your family through numbers.
3. Life in pictures
Choose a photo from each month that represents it well. Then put a small caption under each photo and organize them on a single sheet of paper.
(Side note: Last year at the office supply store, I saw a woman with at least 40 pictures she hoped to cram onto a single sheet of Christmas stationery!)
4. “Best of ” List
Not up for sharing many life updates this year? Write a unique “Best of” list in your letter by brainstorming with the rest of the family your recommendations from the year: Some ideas include:
- Life Hack
- 2018 Memory
- Place We Visited
- Bible verse
- Anything else you think of!
5. Personalized Haiku
This one’s for the aspiring poets… ask each family member to write a haiku representing their year for you letter. It will be a fun exercise and get the creativity flowing! Then, pair their photo with their haiku.. This could be one from the family dog:
Dog years say I’m old.
What do they know? Spry and fun.
I can still play ball.
Good luck and enjoy writing!
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