Mastering the Art of the Holiday Greeting Letter

The 2011 holiday season is upon us.
Christmas decorations light up the streets as neighbors try to prove who among them has the most holiday cheer. Phones ring off the hook as charities try to milk holiday goodwill for as much as they can. Mailboxes fill with holiday cards and letters, most of which are from people whom you haven’t heard from since last year’s holiday greeting.
Given my own absence this past year, I thought I’d come back to this blog with a holiday letter of my own. Then I realized anyone who is reading this is probably one of the few people with whom I’ve actually spoken these past several months. So, instead, I decided to create a template for any procrastinators out there still trying to send out a holiday letter by year end.
So here it is, your quick and easy guide to a holiday letter:
Begin with a salutation. (i.e. Dear Family, Friends, and those who need the yearly reminder that my life is better than yours,)
First things first – apologize for your absence over the past year. Work, school, break-up, death in family, and “life getting in the way” are examples of widely accepted (or at least relatable) excuses. Next, include the obligatory “I truly miss your company and will be sure to get in touch early in the New Year” statement. (Note: if you keep it vague and don’t include the actual year, you can just use this sentence verbatim for subsequent holiday letters.)
Now that you’ve made a mea culpa for your absence, it is time to move on to a description of your/your family’s wonderful year (in spite of the absence of 90% of the people receiving the letter). The key to a good “year in review” is to mention a few specifics highlighting the good and putting a spin on the bad.
If newly single, play up the wonders of “independence” rather than turning it into an awkward tell-all about your failed relationship. If unemployed, elaborate on the joys of taking the time to discover your passion in life, and exploring potential careers that are both personally and professionally fulfilling. If a student, just avoid the words “insurmountable debt” and “no post-grad employment prospects” and you should be fine.
Any good news you want to share is your opportunity to unapologetically brag, but it is important to do so in a tactful way. The key to successful yet modest bragging is the inclusion of pictures in your letter. For instance, if you lost weight over the course of the year, rather than saying, “I look damn good,” a picture will say it for you. If you got married or had a baby, show off the new addition in a family photo. Just make sure it’s a good picture. Never underestimate one’s ability to mercilessly judge others.
Conclude the letter with a summary of your holiday plans, and one final well-intentioned fib about getting in touch in the New Year. Depending on the recipients, end the letter with “Love,” “Cheers,” “Happy Holidays,” or a comparable sentiment. Then sign your name(s), and there you have it! Your holiday letter is officially complete.
Hope this helps (and by helps, I mean amuses you while you count down the hours until your paid vacation begins).
Wishing everyone a very Merry/Happy everything! I truly miss your company and will be sure to get in touch early in the New Year. Honest.


Left Brain Write Mind