How do you write a holiday letter that people want to read, and actually look forward to?

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American Stationery, established in 1919 — when letter writing was somewhat of an art form — poses this question: “How do you write a holiday letter that people want to read, and actually look forward to?”

Essential content tips include:
• Determining one main factor affecting the family or individual.
• Adding a few other primary highlights — new job, a move, addition to family, wedding, etc.
• Providing a funny and/or interesting anecdote or two.
• Ending with an appropriate-to-the-audience salutation; “love” is generally fitting for friends and family.

• Keep it to one page.
• Write concisely — avoid overly flowery language and hyperbole, unless the overall letter theme is comical and dramatic.
• Keep the style light and upbeat.
• Edit several times before sending.

• Including minute life details such as in-depth medical procedures, children’s grades, work hassles or money troubles.
• Using syrupy, unrealistic language.
• Boasting about elaborate travel, successes or purchases.
• Focusing solely on bad news — death, illness, job loss.

If it has been a particularly difficult year, mention trials, but elaborate on blessings as well.

If written well, a holiday letter is a “great communication tool,” pointed out American Stationery, and sometimes the only contact friends and family members receive in a calendar year. Receivers of the letter should feel like they have just been with the writer to catch up on the year’s events, pointed out American Stationery: “Make it personal. If you’re typing a mass letter and e-mailing it, be sure to put a unique sentence or two at the top or bottom of the message directed to the receiver. This will make him/her feel special and important in your life.”

Finally, while it may seem ludicrous considering the current age of technology, some people still appreciate a hand-written letter, says A grandparent, great aunt or home-bound friend may consider the best gift of the season to be the effort that went into penning the letter.