How to Write a Fabulous (and Eye Roll Free) Holiday Card

When I was a little kid, I was big into having pen pals and making and sending cards. As an adult, this has translated into a deep, slightly irrational love of writing our annual family holiday year-in-review card. This year, especially, as we’ve been physically distanced from friends and relatives, I’ve been looking forward to sending and receiving them for quite awhile. And, as much as I hate to brag…I get reviews that our holiday card makes people laugh every year, and don’t we all need a little more laughter this year?

For example’s sake, this was our holiday card last year:

Holiday Card Tips and Tricks

First, you do NOT need to have fancy professional pictures taken every year.

Some of my favorite cards involve DIY candid shots from the year. One of my favorite holiday cards from years past was a 12 square photo collage with a snapshot of us or our kids for each month with the caption, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” If you want to get professional photos taken, great (we did this year), but it’s absolutely not a requirement! Look through and find your favorite photos from the year and go from there.

Second, if you’re going to do a newsletter style card, avoid large text blocks! Consider using some of the following bullet point style headers:

  • By the Numbers: how many days of quarantine you’ve done, new pets adopted, broken iPad screens, masks purchased…get creative!
  • Where We’ve Been: Okay, this section might be a little boring for a 2020 card, but in “normal” years is always fun.
  • Holiday Plans: Ditto bullet point above. “We’re going to lock ourselves in our minivan and go look at holiday lights while avoiding people,” maybe?
  • News: I usually like to include just a sentence or two about each kid. “Charlie is 8 and in second grade. He likes Minecraft, cats, Patrick Mahomes, and ketchup.”
  • Quick Facts: These are where I put a few minor/silly items—good AND bad—to help make the card seem a little less of a highlight reel.
  • Pie Charts: Keep it general or make it specific to your family! I’ve seen them with everything from “96% merry/4% bah humbug” to approximate percentages of time spent on extra-curricular activities of the children.

And, finally, don’t forget about the tone!

Personally, I think it’s important to balance the good news and the not-so-good news, the bragging with the struggles, and to keep it light. For example, we have a son with a lot of medical struggles, so I usually include some sort of bullet point about how many doctors we saw or surgeries he had. You don’t want to totally depress people with a holiday card, of course, but only including the positive parts of your year can come across as a bit braggy and obnoxious.

I know not everyone is quite as enthusiastic about writing as I am, but this year, holiday cards will be extra special to those friends and relatives we haven’t been able to see during the pandemic.

Let your creative flag fly, don’t be afraid to get silly, and have fun spreading some holiday cheer!

Brie Hilton lives in the Northland is a stay-at-home mom with multiple side hustles in the Northland. Her oldest son, Charlie, is 7 and has his own pet-sitting business and outsmarts his parents at least three times a week. Her youngest, Patrick, is 5 and has cerebral palsy and autism, so she considers herself an expert on navigating the special needs life on way too little sleep. In her spare time (ha), Brie teaches group fitness classes, has a boutique in her basement, naps too much, and actively ignores the piles of laundry on the floor.