How to Write Holiday Greetings and Avoid Common Mistakes
Maybe you don’t love holly or snowmen. Or winter jingles. Or trying to manage the list of gifts you’ll need to buy, wrap, and present to your loved ones. Heck, maybe every year you get stuck holding down the office for weeks on end while half the staff is away. Still, you want to power through this—to scream “come at me December, I can take you on!”
Nothing says “I am undaunted by the demands of the winter holidays and am not merely soldiering through—I am here to dominate” like a greeting card. It’s an amalgam of planning, control, and determination, all rolled into a cheery package that shows the world you’re ready to survive another year.
In other words, it’s something you want to nail. Here’s how to avoid a few common mistakes as you write the perfect holiday greeting.
Don’t wait until the last minute.
This matters especially if you’re sending cards via snail mail.
It’s a swell gesture to send physical paper with actual handwriting on it—a trend embraced by a preponderance of millennials in recent years. But be forewarned it can also morph into a hefty task, depending on your design, how many people are on your list, and how much actual, you know, writing you plan to do.
Your journey to the mailbox will only be further hindered by any unmerry detours through last-minute-panic-town, so budget time accordingly. This next step will help you gauge how much work lies ahead:
Make a list. Check it twice. Then maybe pretend we didn’t just say that.
Once you know who all you want to greet, you’ll need addresses—physical or digital. As you’re inventorying whose you have and whose you still need, it’s a good time to get organized. If you’re using a spreadsheet, maybe include a column denoting whether the addresses you have are up-to-date or need to be confirmed.
If your list is too long to finish in one sitting, this is also a handy tool for keeping track of who you’ve already checked off.
Don’t overthink which holiday greeting to use; go with what feels right.
This is your effort to send a few warm wishes, not volley some kind of statement, right? Safe options include Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and Happy New Year. If you know the person you’re greeting is celebrating a particular holiday, that’s fine, too: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, etc.
Don’t botch the pluralization of your family name.
An apostrophe is no way to pluralize a surname. While some folks can simply add “s” at the end to show this greeting is from the whole gang, if the result would be an unpronounceable trainwreck of hissing consonants (stemming perhaps from a name that ends in in ch, sh, s, x, or z) then opt for “es” instead.
Wrong: Season’s greetings from the Przekwas’s!
Also wrong: Merry Christmas from the Przekwass!
Right: Happy holidays From the Przekwases!
Alternatively, you may be able to write your way around this quandary altogether:
Also right: Warm regards from the Przekwas family!
Also, be mindful that whatever you’re putting out into the holiday-greeting universe says something about what you’re looking to get back.
For example, with family photos, it may feel like a truly share-worthy accomplishment to capture all three of your cats behaving together in the same shot, but if you’d feel weird receiving a similar picture of your business associate’s large adult sons, then maybe devise a photo-free version of your greeting for colleagues.
Give the gift of brevity.
If you have a great many words for the recipient, a holiday greeting might not be the ideal platform for them. As ever, if you’re not sure how formal to be, err on the side of professionalism.
For instance, if you’re writing to someone you work with, it’s hard to go wrong by a) keeping it brief, b) thanking them for something, and c) wishing them well, like so:
Dear Ana, Thank you so much for all your help navigating the insurance market this past year; it would’ve been a nightmare without you. Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season. Appreciatively, -Glenn
In other words, your approach might mirror a calculated trip to the mall in December: know what you’re going in for, be kind, and get out as quickly as possible.