The Art of Christmas Letter Writing
Love 'em or hate 'em, family Christmas letters have become a part of our culture. Each year, millions of people send and receive these annual updates.
But knowing what to write and how to say it can be challenging. Would you like help creating great holiday letters?
Here are some tips on how to write Christmas letters your readers will enjoy, as well as some links for Christmas letter paper you can order online and Christmas letter templates you can download and use immediately.
(Image of printable Christmas letter template from Christmas Letter Tips.com)
8 Tips for Writing Better Family Christmas Letters
Simple reminders to keep your letters fun for everyone!
1. Be yourself.
This is the cardinal rule of holiday letter writing. Write like you speak. Your letter should sound like you wrote it, not like it was penned by your seventh grade English teacher.
2. Don't brag.
If something good happened to you and your family, announce it, but keep it low-key. Readers don't enjoy gloating. Remember when you played sports in school and had to shake hands with the losing team after winning a great victory? Keep that image in mind while announcing your latest victories.
3. Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.
If you're tempted to add words like "great" and "exciting" and "wonderful" in every sentence, take a break and see rule #1 above.
4. Be creative.
Your Christmas letter doesn't have to be a long narrative of everything that happened to your family this year. Be creative. Use bullet points, create a puzzle, or turn it into a multiple-choice quiz. You'll find more creative Christmas letter ideas at Christmas Letter Tips.com.
5. Make it colorful.
Holiday letters are easier and more fun to read when you spice them up with family photos, Christmas clip art, or other images (such as scanned children's artwork). You can also buy Christmas stationery or Christmas letter templates (such as the one pictured here) to make your letter more fun.
6. Have fun!
Remember that the goal of your annual Christmas letter should be to entertain and inform your readers. If you don't have fun creating it, your recipients probably won't enjoy reading it.
7. Read it out loud.
Have you succeeded in writing an informative, entertaining holiday letter? Read it out loud, or have someone else read it to you. If it doesn't sound right, try again.
8. Add a personal note.
Add one or two handwritten lines at the bottom of each letter to add a personal touch and leave your readers feeling good.
Creative Christmas Letters Book - For more ideas, check out this book
An All-in-One Christmas Card and Letter
Share your top 10 moments of the year
With today's technology, who needs a separate piece of paper for your Christmas letter? Forget about stuffing your letter inside a card. This clever design from Shutterfly can serve as a card and a letter.
The front of this 5 x 7 card offers room for three photos and a list of the top 10 highlights of your year. And you can create it all online! Simply type in the text in the provided areas and upload your photos. Then preview your design before ordering. You're done! Shutterfly also offers other creative holiday cards. Visit Shutterfly to see more.
Once you've written your letter, you'll want to create a design or buy a template or preprinted stationery that will add color and fun to your words.
You can get printable Christmas stationery with matching envelopes online at places such as AmericanGreetings.com.
American Greetings offers a 30-day free trial membership, which will give you access to printable Christmas cards, as well as holiday letterhead, Santa letter paper and other printable and electronic holiday cards and hundreds of other printable projects.
You can buy printable Christmas letter templates online or get preprinted Christmas stationery at local stationery stores, discount stores and greeting card shops. If you prefer to shop or shop online, see below for some of the great Christmas letterhead you can purchase from Zazzle.
Christmas Letter Paper
Stationery for your holiday letter
Zazzle is a great place to shop for stationery for your Christmas letter. You'll find thousands of unique designs, and you can customize the letterhead with their online interface. It's fun and easy!
Here are just a few of the designs you'll find there. Click on a picture to see a larger image and to explore the wide range of paper they offer.
Creating Digital Christmas Letters - Put Your Family Christmas Letter Online
Is ordinary paper and Christmas clip art is too 20th century for you? Then go digital. These days it's easy to put your ramblings online for either a short period or for longer archiving.
There are several options for putting your family Christmas letters online, including creating a page on your blog or your own web site or , but if you just want to create a colorful digital Christmas letter for your friends and family, Smilebox is a great way to do it.
Smilebox is a site that helps you create personalized ecards, slideshows, scrapbooks, invitations and more. You can add your own text, photos and music, so you'll have a truIy digital Christmas letter. It's easy, fun and free. Yes, free.
If you simply want to make a card, letter or invitation to send via email or post on Facebook, the service is absolutely free and your holiday letter will have some ads in it. If you don't want the ads, sign up for the free trial and you won't have ads in your final product and you'll also be able to download or print your letter so you can save it forever.
Spice Up Your Envelopes with Christmas Stamps and Labels
Make your Christmas letters look good on the outside, too
If you want to add a final flair to your Christmas letters, think about adding a personalized photo stamp to your envelopes. You can easily create personalized USPS stamps for the holidays with your own photos or images on sites such as Zazzle. Simply upload a photo, some children's art or (almost) whatever your heart desires and you'll be able to order custom stamps in minutes.
On Zazzle, you can also order a variety of Christmas stamps created by artists. Here are just a few of the holiday stamps you'll find there:
Add a Christmas Postmark
Get a North Pole or other fun postmark for your family Christmas letters
You can also add a little fun to your envelopes by getting a postmark from the North Pole. No kidding! All is takes is a little extra time. The North Pole, Alaska post office will stamp all of your envelopes with their special holiday cancellation for no additional charge (you still need to put regular postage on your envelopes). All you have to do is address and stamp your envelopes as you normally would. Then stick them all in a larger envelope and send them to:
North Pole Christmas Cancellation
5400 Mail Trail
Fairbanks, AK 99709-9999
The North Pole elves (ok, postal employees) will then make sure your letters get sent to the appropriate addresses, just as if you'd dropped them at your local post office. But you can tell your friends they came from the North Pole!
To ensure delivery in time for Christmas, be sure to get your letters to the North Pole by December 15 at the very latest. Christmas is a very busy time at the North Pole.
If you'd prefer a postmark from another Christmas-themed city, such as a Santa postmark from Santa Claus, Indiana, here are some other cities you can use. Follow the instructions above to send your letter and get your Christmas postmark.
Nazareth, PA 18064
Santa, ID 83866
Santa Claus, IN 47579
Noel, MO 64854
The Perfect Christmas Letter - A musical parody of the traditional family letter
Christmas Letter Poll - Love 'em or hate 'em?
Read More About Christmas Letter Writing - More sites with advice on writing Christmas letters
- How To Write Christmas Letters People Will Actually Enjoy Reading - How To Do Things.com
Computers have made it easy for anyone to create an annual Christmas letter, but do your readers think of ho, ho, ho or oh, no, no when they get your mail? Follow these tips to make sure your letters are fun to read and write.
- How to Write a Christmas Letter - Great Christmas Letters.com
Get tips on how to write a Christmas letter at Great Christmas Letters.com.
- How to Write a Christmas Letter - Parenting Squad
Advice on writing Christmas letters
- Ideas for Creative Christmas Letters
Stumped about what to put in your annual Christmas letter? Then think outside the box. Maybe it's time for an extreme makeover.
NPR Talks About Christmas Letters
lisadh was on NPR's Weekend Edition with Liane Hansen during the 2007 holiday season. To listen to the broadcast, visit Writing Letters is Holday Tradition on NPR.
Love 'em or hate 'em? - Give us your feedback on Christmas letters and this lens!
Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on December 14, 2014:
myspace9 on December 29, 2012:
Happy holidays and have a wonderful day.
greentiger11 on December 27, 2012:
This would have been helpful for me a week ago! haha Sweet Lens either way. I can always bookmark it for next year. Happy Holidays!
mrdata on December 25, 2012:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Wishing you big success for 2013...
tuliprose lm on December 24, 2012:
Always better to read them than write them.
Thamisgith on December 23, 2012:
I think it's great to get some updates at Christmas. Blessed.
anonymous on December 19, 2012:
I love to read them, I hate to write them!
MetkaL on December 18, 2012:
Lian8 on December 14, 2012:
Very good tips especially about adding photos and images. Oh, and the don't brag to much part too. I think this year I'll try to create one and send it online.
anonymous on December 12, 2012:
I really enjoyed "The Christmas Letter" video. Merry Christmas!
Donallphin on December 08, 2012:
I try to write a Christmas letter each year but find myself being a tad redundant and not so creative. Thanks for your tips. I'll put them to good use.
xtianfriborg13 on December 02, 2012:
I was worried the letters I'll be sending this Christmas to my relatives would sound cliché and scripted, but no, thanks for the writing tips!
norma-holt on December 02, 2012:
This was a great lens to read right now as I contemplate some letters to send out to my friends and relatives. This is about the only time we hear from one another and your ideas are much appreciated. Featured on Great Gift Ideas. Hugs
Celticep from North Wales, UK on November 19, 2012:
I used to do this a while back but not written one for a while. Think I may try it again this year!
victoriuh on August 19, 2012:
Bookmarked this so I have it when I need it, if I remember it of course! Great info!
latiptop on July 14, 2012:
I love Christmas letter and will be sure to refer to this lens when I'm writing ours this year! Hope you don't mind me linking this to my Christ-Centered Christmas lens.:)
ReviewNook on July 08, 2012:
Around my house we affectionately refer to them as "brag" letters...lol...nice job on this lens!
puppyprints on July 07, 2012:
My cousin always does this for his family...he updates what everyone was up to the past year. I always look forward to getting it
anonymous on March 29, 2012:
I love your tips for writing better family Christmas letters, thanks for sharing!
polesport on March 08, 2012:
important to me is that they are on paper and not emails!
oakstreet on January 06, 2012:
Oh, I have never thought of a family Christmas letter before until I watch your len and I 'like'' the video on Perfect Christmas letter. God bless you in 2012.
Susan300 on December 23, 2011:
Great info. Makes those letters seem less daunting! :)
nyclittleitaly on December 22, 2011:
peterandrew on December 21, 2011:
nice ideas for every one which are away from their family like me i am doing business of
printer ink cartridges in another country away from my family, i want an idea how to write thanks for helping this great information for me
MusicalKay28 on December 20, 2011:
I normally like receiving cards, but when it comes to sending them out myself, I usually forget! These are great ideas though.
Coreena Jolene on December 16, 2011:
Great lens! Family Christmas letters can be fun but I am glad you mentioned the bragging, it is annoying. For anyone doing their family history, finding an old Christmas letter can bring a few tidbits they may have been looking for.
Edutopia on December 14, 2011:
Nothing grates the senses quite like a poorly done family Christmas letter. This lens needs more exposure so we can save many a family from themselves, haha.
Ken McVay from Nanaimo, British Columbia on December 13, 2011:
Nice lens, and not over-commercialized. Blessed.
anonymous on December 13, 2011:
Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on December 12, 2011:
Wonderful ideas to unite family and friends through Christmas letters!
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on December 09, 2011:
I love Christmas letters -- to write myself, and those from friends. It's always fun for me to have an update on far-away-friends year. Which reminds me.... I'm running behind on writing my letter this year. May have to be a New Year's Letter. :) Wonderful suggestions and helpful hints presented here!
Georgene Moizuk Bramlage from southwestern Virginia on December 01, 2011:
Neat lens! We've written seasonal letters for decades, and tried to keep them fresh and new as technology has changed. I am going to check out some of the template sits you mentioned to see if there are any that I can use. One thought...several years back I organized all our letters to that date into 8x10" photograph-type books. My adult kids loved them! Cheers!
Ann Scaling Tucker from Enid, OK on November 27, 2011:
Neat ideas. I loved your lens and it goes well with one of my lens. I put you on a sticky note on my site: http://www.squidoo.com/deployed.
Hearty Cindy Penaranda from Ormoc City on November 26, 2011:
love your ideas
Showpup LM on November 20, 2011:
My aunt sends these types of letters each year. I love them. Great ideas here and appreciate the templates.
daphnedangerlov1 on November 19, 2011:
I actually like getting them because even if it is over the top, it still means getting to hear what has been going on in my friends lives all around the world.
Eddie20112011 on November 16, 2011:
very good lense! thx for the ideas!
JoshK47 on November 16, 2011:
Wonderful idea - it's always nice to see how folks are doing in their lives year to year. :)
anonymous on September 26, 2011:
Very nice lens with lots of the little things to accompany your holiday greetings.
yayas on September 17, 2011:
I do enjoy the family Christmas letters, although I've found that I prefer the ones that are written as though we are visiting over the backyard fence, rather than those that basically inform. Some people really are very good at drawing the reader in an' making 'em wanna' hear more. I like those kinds of letters.
I so enjoyed reading this page an' watching the video. That was very cute. Thank you.
ThomasNKlotz on August 28, 2011:
McLoughlin Family Christmas Letter in July!!! It's hard to cram the events of a year into one letter in December, and I think that's why a lot of people don't even attempt it.
Family Law Chicago
gatorsquid on August 22, 2011:
CherylsArt on August 14, 2011:
Lots of great ideas. I would suggest though that if someone is excited about something, that they allow the excitement to come through in their letter.
Loretta from United States on August 09, 2011:
<3 *~*~*angel dust*~*~*
LisaDH (author) on February 26, 2011:
@VarietyWriter2: Thanks for the blessing!
VarietyWriter2 on February 25, 2011:
Blessed by a SquidAngel :)
beerhead on January 04, 2011:
Great job on this lens I love Christmas cards.
NanaPoppins LM on December 26, 2010:
Thank you for writing this! Of course Im reading it the day after Christmas and our letters were sent but now I have 365 days to follow this plan :) Happy New Year!
Kay on December 20, 2010:
It's funny, we have a couple family members who write wonderful Christmas letters but then a couple others come across as being 'Me, Me, Me' letters and are not very enjoyable. Merry Christmas to you!
RobGrawberger on December 17, 2010:
Nice lens. We used to get a family letter from my wife's sister every year when she lived in the UK. Always looked forward to receiving them
gods_grace_notes on December 14, 2010:
I have received family Christmas letters, but have never written one. Your lens has caused me to consider it... Merry Christmas!
nangaye-steve on December 14, 2010:
The art of writing letters for any occasion is sadly in decline. Thanks for reminding us how important it still is.
Ben Reed from Redcar on December 12, 2010:
A lovely lens. A forgotten skill, but not for long with these great tips.
Othercatt on December 08, 2010:
This is the first year we're doing a Christmas letter. I had no clue how to write one. Thanks for all your great tips!
sugunalinus on December 04, 2010:
Very nice. thanks for the ideas.
spritequeen lm on November 30, 2010:
This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!
spritequeen lm on November 30, 2010:
This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing!!
Annamadagan on November 27, 2010:
Gilberto Galea from Willemstad on November 26, 2010:
Funny and relax!
Enjoy read it.
Thanks by share!
anonymous on November 07, 2010:
lovely lens, unique!!!!love it!
Stephen Carr from Corona, CA on October 17, 2010:
I used to be annoyed at these letters, but have come to realize that if you save them, it makes for good family and friend history. Now if you send me a letter with a fruitcake....just kidding! Great lens!
emmaklarkins on October 14, 2010:
Wonderful Christmas letter ideas! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel!
Sami4u LM on October 06, 2010:
I did not know about about the postal cancellations. Thanks Nice Christmas letters tips.
J_Edwards on February 18, 2010:
Great tips! Makes me think of skipping the usual Christmas cards.
Fcuk Hub on December 29, 2009:
I would send rather a Christmas card. You are very creative. Thank you for this lens.
red46 on December 27, 2009:
lasertek lm on December 22, 2009:
Great ideas! Each year, I try my best to give uniquely designed Christmas letters to my family & friends. It is pretty easy to find new designs. The difficult part is writing the message that you wish to share. Thanks for making this lens. It has helped me much. 5*
Merry Christmas! Hope you could visit my lenses and be a fan of my fb page. Thanks again
KimGiancaterino on December 17, 2009:
There is definitely an art to writing a Christmas letter. We get a few that are clearly in the "don't" category, and several that we look forward to each year. Blessed by a Squid Angel.
Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on November 18, 2009:
Blessed, and featured, by a Christmas Angel (squidoo.com/angel-christmas)
Mary from Chicago area on November 08, 2009:
I love it when the writer incorporates humor into a Christmas letter. One friend does this so well, year after year. 5* and a fave, plus I'm lensrolling this to squidoo.com/lovestamps
Dianne Loomos on October 25, 2009:
Very good tips about family Christmas letters. I don't like the bragging ones either but I guess people want to tell you about their victories and not their failures.
julcal on December 31, 2008:
These are great ideas! I either love them or hate them. I hate the bragging ones. *****
justholidays on December 17, 2008:
Great Christmas lens. Was looking for info on the subjec!
Thanks for sharing.
Rated 5 stars!
Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on December 16, 2008:
I guess I missed the North Pole Christmas Cancellation deadline for this but now that I know about it I will be sure to send them early next year.
What a wonderful lens. Thank you for sharing.
RedRoseBoutique on December 15, 2008:
I have a neice that sends out a Christmas Letter, once upon a time, but she has 6 children now, and I just don't think she has the time. Great Lens. I wish everyone a great holiday season.
jennrose lm on December 13, 2008:
Great tips! I love good Christmas lenses. 5*
Winter52 LM on December 09, 2008:
I like the idea and I have never received one! Maybe I should get the ball rolling.
mdvaldosta lm on December 07, 2008:
Tis the season! Great lens!
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on December 04, 2008:
I do enjoy the Christmas letters we receive although there are one or two that go a bit farther than they need to...so I try to avoid going into too much detail and I try not to boast although that is hard when you are trying to sum up what you've done in a year and you do not want to talk about what you have not done!
My favorite tip on this page is, "Read it out loud." I tell my teenage boys to do that for every assignment. You can find so many errors that way.
You have created a nice page with lots of ideas...I guess I had better quit Squidooing and get our newsletter written!
KatherineClark on November 25, 2008:
Very Nice Lens. As for Christmas Newsletters, I love them. It is great for getting caught up with all the family and friends news. Don't you hate getting a Card that says nothing but a signature. They need to save their stamp. Kathy
Spook LM on November 22, 2008:
I never you that about the North Pole print. Would have loved that when my kids were small. Actually sounds like a great idea for adults to. Lovely lens.
Bella21 on November 19, 2008:
Thank you Lisa! I think this is a wonderful way to wish those you love a Merry Christmas... five stars and thanks for all the tips!
anonymous on November 18, 2008:
very nice lens..thanks for sharing some great tips..
good job..5* from me..
nooranwer on November 18, 2008:
It's a very nice and useful lens.
By the way thankyou for the feedback on my Prague guide lens.
Please review my another lens http://www.squidoo.com/Merry-Christmas1
dustytoes on November 15, 2008:
I love getting photos and letters from friends, but don't brag! Wonderful, useful suggestions here. I'm rolling it into my Christmas lens.
Stephen Carr from Corona, CA on November 12, 2008:
Very nice and useful lens. Thanks for the Gandhi comment on one of my lenses. You and your lenses rock! Gotta go check out the rest.
Tiddledeewinks LM on November 10, 2008:
I think they're a great idea for keeping in touch.
June Campbell from North Vancouver, BC, Canada on November 10, 2008:
I have to confess that for the most part, I dislike Christmas letters.Some, however, are charming. Here's hoping the guilty parties will find your great lens and start sending letters that capture our attention.
Debbie from England on October 31, 2008:
Great idea. This is a great family project for Christmas. I lensrolled it into my Christmas Cracker lens and also added it as a featured lens.
Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on October 31, 2008:
Nice lens, I think family Christmas letters are a great idea. 5***** for a great idea.
nancydodds1 on October 30, 2008:
WOW! excellent lens. Nice information i got from your lens. My 5***** for you.
PioneerMarketer on May 13, 2008:
What a great Lens! Top notch tips as well! What do you think of my lens, it is all about saving people when they travel, on average a family will save $800.00 per vacation using this package! This will help people visit family over the holidays as well as write them a great letter with your pionters!
lvcjmac on March 11, 2008:
I saw the link to your lens in the Get Ratings, Give Ratings! and I find it to be quite interesting. There's a lot of good information to weed through and it's really well written. This is quite a unique lens, but I gave you a 5 star rating and I'm hoping you can find the time to visit my lens MacDatingSite.
Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on December 28, 2007:
Thank you for lensrolling the The Wish Tree - A Wish for Peace for the Holidays into your Family Christmas Letters lens. Good advice and good new traditions for next year.
frances lm on December 18, 2007:
A useful list and well laid out. 5*
tdove on December 15, 2007:
Very useful information. 5*
ChristopherScot1 on December 15, 2007:
Great lens and thanks for joining the group for A Day of Hope.
Doddee on December 10, 2007:
Very helpful blog and well presented.
Mark-Nehs on December 08, 2007:
Great lens and very nicely presented. All the Best, Mark
Vicki from USA on December 05, 2007:
Great idea for a lens! 5 stars. Hope you'll visit my Retro Christmas lens.