Charleston School of Protocol Banner
"Teaching business etiquette as the subtle, redefining confidence which enables people to excel and succeed in today's corporate culture."~ Cindy Grosso, Founder

Free Newsletter - Your Manners Matter Minute

As Seen On The Dr. Phil Show!
Watch Dr. Phill

Free Newsletter - Your Manners Matter Minute

"Your Manners Matter Minute"
Subscribe to Newsletter

Is a Free, Subscriber Based, Tip of the Month Publication.

What is your EtiQ?

What is your EtiQ?


Best birthday behavior: Etiquette tips for party hosts  Read More >>

The 8 Best Etiquette Rules We Learned From Grandma  Read More >>

A Life Well Lived - Having Style 

No bragging: Summarizing year's activities can be daunting task

No bragging: Summarizing year's activities can be daunting task

The Post and Courier
Tuesday, December 9, 2008


It's that time of year when the mail is full of holiday greetings, and often, letters detailing the news of Suzy's full scholarship to MIT and Johnny's success on the athletic field.

You know what I'm talking about. Holiday letters. Those epistles that sum up a family's year in one (hopefully) brief letter.

"The people who hate them seem to be more vocal than the people who like them," says Lisa Howard, a central California working mom who in 2005 started a Web site called "But for many people, these letters are the funniest, most entertaining piece of mail all year long."

Wade Spees
The Post and Courier

Love 'em or hate 'em, you're bound to find a few in your mailbox during this holiday season.

"Our lives are so busy that it's hard to stay in touch with some of our friends during the year," says Becky Hamilton of Charleston. "So the holidays are our chance to catch up."

She also acknowledges that "Writing a holiday letter can be a challenge because you don't want to sound like you are bragging, but you want to let everybody know what's going on and summarize the whole year on one page."

Have no fear if writing a holiday letter seems like a daunting task to you. Although there are no official rules for writing a holiday letter, experts say that following a few tips can make the task enjoyable.

"I like to get Christmas letters," says Cindy Grosso, owner of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette. "People put a lot of effort into them."

Howard says it shouldn't feel like a chore to write your letter or to read it.

"The most important thing is that people should make their Christmas letter sound like them," she said in a recent phone interview. "Too many people try to make their letter sound like a college term paper because that's the way we learned to write, to get a grade. Loosen up and have personality."

Howard offers other tips such as:

-- Know your audience. Think about who will be reading your letter.

-- Don't exaggerate. Try to avoid sounding self-absorbed.

-- Avoid unnecessary adjectives that bog down your letter.

-- Decide on a format chronological or by person and stick to it

-- Make your letter visually appealing by including photos or clip art.

-- Don't embarrass any members of your family.

-- Proofread!

It is OK to include information about something sad or disappointing. Most folks have been through extraordinary circumstances this year, and most people appreciate honesty.

At the same time, you want to avoid dragging them down too much, Howard says. She says she once received a letter that was "about all the terrible things that had happened. They had this paragraph about going to Disneyland and it was all about how Disneyland was terrible because it was crowded and they got sick. Terrible things do happen, but you can try to make it funny."

Howard has a sample letter on her site about the year she lost her job and had an emergency appendectomy.

"Don't end your letter on a bad note," Grosso said. "You don't want to leave people feeling bad."

When finished, your letter should not exceed one or two pages. However, you also don't want to shrink the type to a point size so small that readers need a magnifying glass to read it.

"People are busy and don't have a lot of time to read a long letter," Grosso said. "Make sure you are aware of how long it is. If you're going to take the time to write it, you want people to read it."

Unlike thank-you notes and some other correspondences, holiday letters can be either handwritten or typed, Grosso says.

"If it's handwritten, make sure it's legible," she said. "If it's hard to read and is a long letter, people will give up. You can type it in a nice font. There are even some that look like handwriting."

In fact, your holiday letter doesn't have to be a letter at all. You can write it like a newsletter, a multiple choice quiz, a story, a memo, a poem or anything else.

It also can be written from anyone's point of view.

"Someone asked me the other day if it's OK for the dog to write their holiday letter," Howard said. "I told them, if the dog is a good writer and can spell properly, fine."

Keep in mind that the letter isn't meant to be sent to your entire mailing list.

"Just send the letter to people that you know pretty well," Grosso said. "If the letter is long and the person doesn't know you well, they might not enjoy reading it."

Send holiday letters to people you don't see often but with whom you genuinely want to keep in touch. People you see on a regular basis know what's going on in your life anyway.

"You can just send cards to the people you see often, and add the letter for people you don't see," Grosso said.

Finally, make sure you keep a copy of your letter. Some people put them in a binder and others just keep a copy in their boxes of decorations.

"Just have fun with it," Howard said. "Stop stressing and relax. Your letter will be more fun if you're having more fun."

Christmas online

Check out these Web sites for tips, templates and other information:

Seven tips for Chrsitmas letters from

Holiday newsletter do's & don'ts from

The perfect holiday letter from

10 Christmas Letter Writing Tips from

Seven Tips for Sparkling Christmas Letters from

Brenda Rindge can be reached at 937-5713 or at

Author: Brenda Rindge

Source: Post and Courier Newspaper

<< Back

Footer Image