The Christmas Card Letter

12 Dec

One of the reasons that I love the holidays is that I see them as an opportunity to be creative by baking, crafting gifts, and writing a Christmas card insert. Before Facebook and Blogs, annual Christmas card inserts or letters were the only way to keep in touch with far-flung friends and family. Folks have very strong opinions as to what should and shouldn’t be shared in a Christmas insert. Growing up, my family made a sport out of reading the letters aloud to each other – and every holiday season named the worst of the year, which usually went something like this:

1993 has been an interesting year with some real ups and downs.  Mother had bowel surgery and lost a 4 foot section of her intestines. Uff-da! She’s recovering ok, despite needing round-the-clock care (including hot sponge baths provided by my sister-in-law Greta) and a colostomy bag.  Went on vacation to Minneapolis for a weekend with Marge and the girls.  Marge really knows how to make a hot dish, I tell you. Some of my favorites are hash brown casserole, and everone’s favorite: green bean casserole. Maybe this year Marge will find the husband that she deserves.  She’s a real gem, fellas!  Wink. Wink.

This would continue on for a full single-spaced page.  Here’s why the letter doesn’t work; it includes:

  • Personal (and specific) medical information about a family member,
  • Vague details about a trip to the local big city,
  • Notes on casseroles (although Jell-o salad can and will make it into my Christmas letter), and
  • Comments on a friend or family member’s marital status (this is a personal pet peeve of mine and happens more often than you would think).

Let’s try and re-imagine the letter in a more appropriate way:

In March, I visited my cousin Marge and her two daughters at their beautiful new home in Minneapolis. She’s become quite the chef and we enjoyed many wonderful meals together.


Thank you to everyone who has kept my mother in their thoughts and prayers.  We celebrated her 82nd birthday as a family and look forward to many more birthdays together.


Not everyone has a jet-setting, fabulous life.  We don’t all make yearly trips to Europe or the tropics. This year I struggled with my Christmas letter because the farthest I traveled was Lancaster, PA.  I thought, “I’m such a loser, I didn’t do anything anyone cares about!  Even my crafts suck!  I hid my sewing machine in the closet because it was upsetting me!”

The truth is, people don’t care. They just want to see what you are up to in under 200 words and with a couple of photos – especially if you have kids.


  • In addition to your Christmas letter, write something by hand. Just a couple of words expressing good tidings, best wishes, or whatever floats your boat. There is nothing worse than a Christmas card with no signature, no note, no nothing. Take the time or don’t bother.
  • Include pictures (hopefully not all of you, this isn’t
  • Feel free to send cards late or not at all.  This should make you feel good, and not be a source of stress and bad feelings.
  • Have fun with fonts and graphics if its your thing, if not just keep it simple.
  • Inject some humor, or if you dare…irony!

I hope I’ve covered the basics and that you’ll enjoy constructing a quality Christmas insert!


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