Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Defense of the Christmas Letter

It seems like Christmas letters get a bad rap. The media gives the impression that people turn their noses up at the "impersonal" copied letters that come in so many Christmas cards. But most of the people I talk to love to receive and read these letters, including myself. Sure, there are exceptions and some may not realize that there is an unwritten set of guidelines to follow when writing these kind of letters. Perhaps the people who don't like the letters have just never received one that followed the "guidelines."

The point of the Christmas card letter is to share with family and friends the highlights of your year. Of course, a handwritten letter is preferred, but with the Christmas card lists people have now (50, 100, more?), they would have to start writing these letters in September. It's much more practical and efficient to write one letter and copy it for all to read. I say it sounds like a lovely thing to include in a Christmas card and much more personal than a hastily scrawled signature in a store-bought card.

In this day and age, we are all very busy and don't talk with friends and family as often as we would like. That's why it's nice to receive a Christmas letter so we can find out all the latest and still feel like we haven't completely lost touch. Writing a Christmas letter can be a fun family project and tradition to work on during the weekend after Thanksgiving or at the beginning of December. You can save the letters you write each year and they become a scrapbook of your lives - I have enjoyed looking back to the first one that I wrote. And trying to write the letter creatively helps work out your brain! Oh the many benefits of the Christmas letter - LOL!

But you really should follow the guidelines. Maybe you (or certain family members) are not aware of the guidelines. I will do my best to educate you and then you can pass it along to any "violators."

The Very Unofficial Christmas Card Letter Guidelines

~ Must be one page! 2 pages = 2 long. More than 2 pages = Dropped from the card list. Do what you must to keep to this - smaller borders, smaller font (be very careful - some people can't read really small fonts), LESS words!

~ No gushing allowed. You are allowed to be proud of accomplishments, but don't overdo it and don't mention more than 1 per child.

~ Keep it light - not too artificially happy and not too serious. Humor is greatly appreciated!

~ Tell us things that your kids are interested in - sports they participate in, favorite subject, new pet, etc. - rather than the cute things they said and did all year.

~ Do include parents in the letter - we like to know what's happening with you, too - not just your kids.

~ Address or name change updates are nice - don't just assume that everybody will notice the return address on the envelope.

~ Creativity appreciated - sometimes. I heart creative Christmas letters - poems, puzzles, newsletters, etc. but not everybody does. Consider what your audience will enjoy.

~ Even if there are signatures on the letter, please sign the card with handwritten signatures and maybe even a handwritten "Merry Christmas!"

~ Decide if you need to include a letter in every card. Your hair stylist may not be interested in what your kids did this year and your close family members might already know more than they want to - LOL! :)

Have I missed anything? Is this helpful? I'll be expecting all of your Christmas letters any day now.

If you are not a fan of the Christmas letter, I hope I have caused you to rethink your position. If not, you can send me a 3-page detailed letter about it in your Christmas card.


  1. I like getting Christmas letters. The problem is I am so bad about sending Christmas cards that I hardly ever get any. Each year I keep thinking I will get them sent out and it never happens. Oh well, one day ;o)

  2. Most of the Christmas letters I receive follow all the rules- but there's always that one person that can be a little out there-
    As for me I have never written a Christmas letter- it's always just a card- and Not even a Christmas card- I send Happy New Year cards-{it started because I could never get my Christmas cards out in time- now it's a tradition}
    Happy New Year :}

  3. I'm definitely a fan of the Christmas letter. Unfortunately, this year I haven't even started it. But, I enjoy reading everyone elses. The cutsie rhymes don't usually tell me enough, though. Very nice post and good point!

  4. Another Christmas letter fan - who still needs to do hers, too! Merry Christmas!

  5. I love getting the Christmas letter. I usually send them out as well, but this year I am not getting it done. I don't even have my tree up yet. I have asked and asked, now I will just wait till he gets it out of the attic. Hopefully before Christmas... I might have to do like your other poster said, do a Happy New Year Letter! I have to wrap presents this week and get the house cleaned up!

  6. I love the letters! We miss out on so much of what is going on in people's lives! I love ones that have pictures and even better are the ones that are funny and creative! I am thinking mine this year will look like a newspaper page! Thanks for sharing this thought!

  7. I really enjoy the letters. I've written some over the years but have failed lately. Maybe because people can just read my blog to know what is up. BUT, I think there is something more special about receiving a letter in the mailbox! One you can hold, one that has photos you can put up on your cork board!

    Great post, dear, thanks for sharing!


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  9. Hilarious. And so true. Long live the Christmas letter! :-)

    I do love getting them. I read every word. Except the ones from my husband's extended family. Shhh. That's just our little secret.


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