So You’ve Decided to Write a Christmas Letter 10.30.2013

I don’t know how to tell you this, but Christmas letters are the WORST.  I say this knowing full well that if you send me a Christmas letter, I will not only read every word of it, I will read every word of it out loud so Eric can experience the letter with me.  I will pause to say things like:  “Awwww,” or  “We should skydive!”  And Eric will say things like:  “Do you know where my phone is?” or “What do you want for dinner?”  He’s not listening, but he is making dinner so I’m not complaining. 

But let’s get back to the point at hand:  Christmas letters are the WORST.  I cannot stand them.  Someone needs to write The Guidelines to Writing Christmas Letters or banish them.  Or maybe people need to write an outline first, have someone approve it, and then they can write the damn thing.

Look, it’s all good.  Life happens in the details.  But dispensing information about your colonoscopy is not okay.

I am writing about Christmas letters because I’m about to order our holiday cards, and recently made up received a slew of questions from fake people about Christmas letter etiquette.  So, grab a glass of champagne, and watch me help out these lost souls!

Hi Sindhu!  I’m not Christian but I really want to write a Christmas letter.  Is that okay?

Um…yeah.  I’m Hindu, Eric is Jewish (Hinjews!) and we wrap presents in Santa Claus paper.  Life is short.  Do what makes you happy and doesn’t hurt other people.  If the word “Christmas” gets your panties in a knot, call it a “holiday” letter. 

I’ve had a really rough year and I feel like everyone should know about it.  Is that okay?

Yes and no.  As with class letters to your alma mater, be honest and ask this question:  what's really important in my life?  Going through a divorce?  I want to know about it: it’s part of your year.  What I don’t think belongs in a Christmas letter is the extensive therapy you’re going through (good for you BTW!) or how much you hate your ex -- understandable but you're messing up your chi.  

My son Bobby hit three home runs in Little League – is this something I should include in a Christmas letter?

Look, I think it’s awesome that Bobby hit three home runs.  Really.  But that’s what Facebook is for.  Keep the Christmas letter focused on the big stuff.  Now if Bobby is 8 and he jumped out of a plane, put that in the letter.  And then hope no one calls Child Protective Services.

My wife and I have a draft of our Christmas letter, which is seven pages long – and it’s only October!  Do you think we need to shorten it?

Seriously? Stop! Christmas letters should be one page, one-sided in large enough font that I don’t have to take out my damn reading glasses.  Photos on the backside are welcome.

I think confetti is so festive -- is it okay to put confetti in a holiday letter?

No.  It is not.  If you do this, I will never open mail from you again. 

I’ve been working on a poem about my year in iambic pentameter and I am beyond excited to send it out.  Do you think poems for Christmas letters are a good idea?

I’m on the fence about this.  This is really a “know your audience” thing.  For example, if I sent a poem to my brother, he wouldn’t get past the first line.  But if I sent a poem to my friends who give a crap about poetry, they would read the whole thing and might even appreciate it.  Know your audience.

I get a Christmas letter from a family that only focuses the contents of the letter on their three kids.  I find it annoying.  Am I being harsh?

You are 100% right on the money.  Look, I get it:  I’m a life giver and I know how wonderfully intense it is to have kids.  Everything they do is awesome and you want everyone to know about it.  But it can’t be all about them.  It just can’t.  You can’t stop being part of the picture.  Whenever I get holiday cards with just kids in the photos, I immediately think:  Where the hell is the rest of the family?  Get your ass in the picture people!

Have real questions about etiquette?  Send them to me!  I'm running three businesses right now and I'm sure I'll have time to answer them!  Send your questions or comments to

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