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8 DOs and DON’Ts for Writing a Holiday Letter

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8 DOs and DON’Ts for Writing a Holiday Letter

The holiday letter has traditionally been a way of letting extended family and friends know what’s going on in your life, and the lives of your immediate family. The key to a well-written holiday letter is maintaining a delicate dance between truth and embellishment, reality and aspiration.

Achieving this balance is a tricky task—regardless of your circumstances. But it becomes even more difficult if you’re responsible for taking care of an ailing loved one.

How do you tell friends and family about mom’s declining health? Do you have to adopt a false, ‘Positive Polly’ attitude for the sake of appearing calm and in control? What do you say to family members who you feel have abandoned you?

Make your own rules for the holiday

The first step: stop, take a deep breath, and decide whether or not you really want to write a holiday letter.

Even if your yearly missive has been a fixture of the family festivities, you shouldn’t feel as though you have to keep doing it just because it’s a “tradition.”

“The holidays are a great time to stop and reflect on life,” says Cindy Laverty, caregiver coach, radio talk show host, and author. “The year I chose not to get caught up in all the hype, everything changed for me. I made the rules.”

Make sure you’re writing your letter for the right reasons—to update family and friends, to reminisce about the events of the past year, and to re-connect with people you may have fallen out of touch with.

What story do you want to tell?

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), Laverty says you should ask yourself one question: “What would I write about my life if this was the last holiday that I would ever have with my loved one?”

Use this question as a starting off point to determine the purpose of the letter, and do some brainstorming and outlining to clarify your topics and tone before you begin writing.

Next: 8 letter writing DOs and DON’ts


One Caregiver’s Holiday Story
5 Ways To Make The Holidays Merry
Making Holidays Special For Your Elders, No Matter Where They Live

8 Rules for Writing a Holiday Letter While Caregiving originally appeared on

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Read more: Caregiving, Christmas, Family, Holidays, Inspiration, Life, Love, Mental Wellness, Relationships, , , , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, Editor

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+ add your own
5:26PM PST on Dec 21, 2012

thanks for sharing

3:41AM PST on Dec 9, 2012


9:48AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

To Andrew H. - beautifully said.....if only more people would become conscious of their accusations, judgements and criticisms of others, they might see a reflection of themselves in other's shortcomings, and realize that we all suffer from what is appropriately termed "the human condition.". Thanks Andrew.

Joanna M. - I had a good belly laugh....thank you for making my day. :-)

11:06AM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

3:35AM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Thanks, now if the LETTER writers would read this - could make for a happier world! (They should also use their spell checkers, nothing like getting a letter full of mis-spelled words!) Actually, personally I don't care for this type of letter AT ALL and just toss them out without reading them, a hand written note at the bottom of the card is fine with me!

1:35AM PST on Dec 5, 2012


1:32AM PST on Dec 5, 2012

Remember to personalise each letter so that the recipient does not feel like a number on a long list!!

11:16AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

As a child, I vividly recall our family receiving holiday letters from a distant elderly aunt I had never met in my life. She would give us a month-by-month recap of her family's accomplishments - they were typically things along the lines of "Then in June, I moseyed over to the White House to pick up my Nobel Prize." Even her baby grandchildren were The Most Amazing Children on Earth - she'd write things like "Even though little Johnny was just born last month (in the quickest and easiest labor the hospital staff had ever seen) he's already walking and talking in complete sentences." It was, needless to say, a complete joke.

8:56AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Seems like practical advice.

3:42AM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Reasons to write or not write a letter?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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