The holidays are upon us, which means it’s time to write a holiday card or end-of-year note to your family, friends, and colleagues. You’ve picked the perfect design or photo and created your mailing list, but now you’re stuck on what to write. Maybe you’re overthinking it or wondering about proper holiday card etiquette.
Even though they don’t need to be long, these holiday messages can sometimes be challenging. Whether you’re writing a message for a greeting card or postcard, this guide has everything you need to write a quality holiday card message, regardless of your recipient’s faith or how they celebrate (or don’t celebrate) the holidays.
Before you dash off your season’s greetings, give our guide a quick look to ensure you’re not missing anything. Your holiday card message doesn’t have to be complicated.
What is a holiday card?
Holiday cards are greeting cards that are designed to express well wishes during the holiday season. Sometimes holiday cards are postcards featuring the sender’s or their family’s or pet’s photo on the front. Other people will send a newsletter, a long-form letter with updates from themselves or their family on stationery with photos enclosed.
These days, most holiday cards are printed on photo postcards, ecards, or an old-fashioned one-hundred-pack of illustrated cards. Some, though, still like to send a handwritten letter or long-form newsletter detailing their or their family’s eventful year.
Tips for writing a holiday card
There aren’t many guidelines for writing a holiday card. Truth be told, there aren’t really any wrong ways to write a holiday message. But we’ve rounded up some suggestions to help you get started on your card.
The only limit to how long your holiday message can be is the space you’ve allotted for yourself. Some holiday cards are blank on the inside, leaving ample room for a handwritten note. Others, like printed postcards, don’t leave as much room.
A good rule of thumb is to use 150 words at most in your holiday message unless you plan to write a newsletter instead of a postcard or greeting card. Don’t overcomplicate it! Most likely, you have a lot of cards to send. It’s OK to keep it short and sweet.
What should a holiday card include?
While there’s no right or wrong way to write a holiday message, you should include the basics. Greeting your recipients warmly, adding a personalized message, and signing your name are the most important pieces of any card.
A holiday card should include the following.
How to write a holiday card in 5 steps
1 General holiday greeting
Choose a card with a holiday greeting on the front or written inside. Alternatively, you can write your own holiday greeting. This can be a generic greeting if you plan to send out a large batch of cards, such as “Season’s Greetings,” “Let It Snow,” “Happy Holidays,” “Grateful for You,” “Peace and Joy,” etc.
2 Heartfelt personal message
Here’s where you get out your pen or computer. If you can, take the time to write a short, authentic note. This makes the card feel special and personal. Try mentioning something the recipient has experienced this year, hopes for the next year, or a happy thought or inside joke you share.
Here, you write three or four words to lead into your signature. The holidays are a sentimental time of year, so don’t be afraid to use “Love” in your sign-off. Alternatively, you could use “Warm wishes,” “All the best,” or “Sincerely” if you’d prefer to keep it casual. You can also reacknowledge the occasion with “Happy Holidays,” “Happy New Year,” etc.
4 Your signature
If you aren’t sending an ecard, you should handwrite your signature on your holiday cards. This shows that you personally care about your recipients. If you want, write your name in cursive. If you’re signing on behalf of your family, you can print each person’s name. Even better, you can make it a party and have your family sit and sign cards with you while you watch a holiday movie or eat some cookies.
5 Other things you may want to include
In addition to the essentials detailed above, you might want to include something whimsical or more personal. A quote or saying that fits the mood, a song lyric, or a joke make great additions to any holiday card. You could add one of these in a PS or on the envelope if you’ve run out of room in the main portion of your card.
If you’ve been a little out of touch with friends or your extended family or you’ve been on an epic adventure this year, consider writing a newsletter. You can write or print your newsletter on a separate piece of paper to update everyone on the personal events of the year. Be sure to keep your newsletter under one page to make it easy to read.
Holiday card examples
Here are four examples of holiday card messages to help get you in the spirit.
Happy holidays from our family to yours! We are excited to see where your new RV takes you. Come visit us in Utah, and I’ll bake chicken potpie!
PS The kids will be playing Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer at Mimi’s this year. Get ready to laugh!
I told you those cookies were for Santa! Just kidding. I hope you loved the cookies we sent your way. See you in a few weeks!
I hope you enjoy the holidays with your family in Calgary. We’ll miss you at the office holiday party.
PS Don’t forget to bring us back some snow!
I wish you the happiest of holidays. I hope your health is looking up this season and you’re in good spirits. See you soon!
All my love, Bec
There are many reasons why you may be sending a holiday card. Whether that’s to nurture your long-distance friendships, stay connected with extended family, or make someone’s day, a short and sweet message can make a big difference to someone.