Monday, December 12, 2011

Tips for Writing A Stand-Out Holiday Letter

Jennifer Lamont Leo's post on Friday, December 9, touched on this same subject of writing Christmas tomes. I decided that since most people receive 30-40 Christmas letters during the holidays, two post from WNI bloggers on the same subject would not be too (or two) unwelcoming.

JLL's post had some excellent ideas. Most of you are writers and others expect writers to compose everything well and correctly. Here are more ways to make your letter sparkle and be enjoyed.

1.Keep it short. Most people are not interested in the minutiae of your life.

2. Don’t brag (unless your book was published!)

3. Do talk about the highlights of the year not the lowlights. Avoid whining about illness and injury. People want to hear happy news at this time of year.

4. Avoid regional jargon.

5. If you include pictures, choose a few good ones and make them big enough so people can discern the subject matter. Seven pictures of your daughter’s dance recital are six too many.

6. Use adjectives and adverbs sparingly and my pet peeve: do not use more than one (1) exclamation point! Use spell check and grammar check often.

7. Be creative:

  • turn it into a multiple choice quiz.
  • make a crossword puzzle
  • use bullet points
  • follow David Letterman’s example and make a Top Ten List: 10: Terry hit a hole in one at Pebble Beach 9: Sarah learned to barrel race on her horse Magic.
  • use the word C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S to tell about events:

C-California road trip in June was the most fun vacation in years.

H-happily (?) our garden was voted the "most unusual garden" according to my garden club.

R-rescued a puppy now named "Colossus"; he turned out to be a St. Bernard.

8. Read your letter aloud. You will catch grammatical errors and awkward phrasing.

9. Have fun. Your goal is to entertain and inform not B & B (brag and bore.)

10. Add a personal note at the end in your handwriting. It shows you are thinking specifically of the receiver of your letter.