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How NOT to write a holiday email

Are you making these mistakes? Or, worse yet, maybe you didn’t know they were mistakes . . .

Quick confession: I like holiday letters. I like writing them; I like reading them. Heck, I even enjoy choosing what kind of stamps to buy for them.

But I know not everyone feels this way.

Christmas letters or emails are like Christmas fruitcake – the world is divided into those who like ’em and those who loathe ’em. Whatever your opinion of them, there are a few good reasons to think about writing one for your business.

First off, it’s a nice, friendly way to keep open the lines of communication. It also helps you stay top of mind with clients at a time of year when people are reflecting on the past and thinking about the future. Plus, it’s a good opportunity to show a more personal side of your company.

That being said, if it’s a bad letter or email, it’s better not sent. And, believe me, there are bad letters. Seriously bad.

Following are some guidelines about what not to do when writing your holiday email.


Don’t get too personal

“I was able to spend a lot more time on the greens this year. Since I got some corns removed, my golf shoes are so much more comfortable, and the fresh air is great for my irritable bowel.”

So, what’s the issue here? Right, too much personal information. Generally speaking, do your best to avoid health, religion and politics. Would you talk about it at your new in-laws’ dinner table? Then don’t do it here.


Don’t brag about success

“The firm was honoured to win an award this year. But it was such a rush going to receive it, we ended up flying in coach! It’s always something, isn’t it? At least the caviar at the Plaza was better than last time.” 

It’s okay to share, but in moderation and with modesty – lest you get stabbed in the hand with an oyster fork.


Don’t complain

“We had some setbacks that kept us working through the summer. Between the faulty sprinkler system and the ensuing carpenter ants, production really slowed down. At least we didn’t default on our property taxes again, which seem to go up every year – unlike my wages!”

Geez, Debbie Downer! You know how they say misery likes company, they’re lying. If all the news to share is a bummer, write a shorter letter!


Don’t write too much

“The year started off with a bang. Not only did Sheila in shipping get news that her son is accepted into barber’s college – well, to be technical, I don’t think that you can really call it a college, it’s more of a trades school – but also Bob down in accounting won $150 on a scratch and win. He proceeded to celebrate his winnings by buying Timbits for the whole office. Except for some of us are now on gluten-free diets, which makes office functions a bit trickier. But we’re all learning about alternatives to flour, which, by the way, are more numerous than you’d think, especially when you include starches.

“February saw a whole lot more excitement . . .”

’Nuff said.


Don’t try to sell something

“We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! And you know what would make your New Year even happier? A new vacuum with extra suction! We have next year’s models arriving all the time and are open Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.”

This is not the time for a commercial. This is a time for connecting, sharing, thanking people for support and keeping up relationships. It’s okay to let people know the office will be closed, but write a separate email if you want to sell, sell, sell.


Do treat the email recipients as friends. Do be genuine. Do use a little humour and do encourage them to get in touch.

Now sit down and write! (And make sure to send a copy to us.)

Nancy Miller
Nancy Miller

Owner and editorial rockstar at Rock.Paper.Copy Writing Solutions

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