How to Write a Holiday Letter People Will Read

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As someone who looks forward to the handful of missives she receives with her holiday cards, I was interested in the advice from a communication professor about how to craft a successful letter. John Llewellyn, Ph.D., associate professor at Wake Forest University, breaks it down into the aptly-named acronym, YULE:

You care for these people. So make sure that love and caring—in other words, the vibe of the holiday season—is what comes through in your writing.

Use vivid language to tell your story. Help people see what you’re describing; don’t simply recount a list of achievements or events.

Level with them about the hardships of the past year. Surely not everything was rosy; Dr. Llewellyn says it’s actually more respectful to your audience to simply admit it. Obviously you don’t want to be too much of a buzzkill, but aim for sincerity, with a good dash of cheer.

Enough is enough. Two pages oughta do it, says Dr. Llewellyn. Personally, I think one page, especially if it’s single-spaced, is about right.

Do you send holiday letters? What guidelines do you follow?

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