Blog / The forgotten art of the Christmas letter

The forgotten art of the Christmas letter

It’s that time of year again. Boxes of decorations make their way out into the open, revealing all kinds of red, green and gold prettiness. Trees are put up, fairy lights are untangled, elaborate festive dinners with friends and family are planned – it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

As an expat, one of the things probably missed most during this season, is the writing and receiving of Christmas letters. All the social media messages in the world cannot match the joy of a handwritten note, tucked into a pretty Christmas card.

If you haven’t started writing yours already, or can’t think of what to write and how to make it fun, here are a few tips from our team.

Get Creative. Or Not.

You can choose to do something different. Write a poem, add a short festive recipe, send a funny family picture, or have your little one write a few letters with you, incorporating crayons, stickers, glitter etc. If that isn’t your cup of Christmas tea, there’s always the much-loved classic route – a traditional piece of festive goodness, filled with messages of joy, peace and goodwill.

Your choice could depend on your own preference, or that of the recipient. Do something you enjoy and chances are, they’ll enjoy receiving it too.

Stay Positive.

Start your letter on a positive, happy note and maintain it throughout. The power of the written word is tremendous, and not only will it allow you to enjoy your letter writing process, but will also put the reader in a cheerful frame of mind – one that will be associated with you.

Don’t Brag.

Limit the family update to no more than a paragraph, and try to avoid listing the year’s key achievements for you and yours. With letter writing, you lose the power of ‘tone of voice’ and ‘facial expression’, so it’s necessary to craft your note differently, carefully, and sincerely, so the reader feels your emotions, as opposed to getting bored and thinking you’re showing off.

Cover The Highlights.

Go over the past year and touch upon the main topics covering your home and that of the receiver. A new home, new job, first day at school – generally, easy conversational topics. Keep it short and sweet.

Be Genuine.

Who are you writing to? Think about them, what they would like to hear, and what would make them smile as they read your letter. It only takes a few minutes, but it makes a world of difference, instantly making your letter warm, personal and heartfelt.

Your Christmas Wish.

If you’ve been careful, your letter will be pleasant and easy to read, and the best way to end it is with a genuine message. Remember, you chose to write because the ones you’re writing to, are special. Share your heartfelt wishes for them, things you would probably never think of saying face to face. It’s a time of gratitude, peace and joy – let your letter end with messages that ring true to the spirit of the season.


Though it’s often easier to just send that cute online Christmas card, and add a few extra smileys or exclamations, it will simply never be the same thing. Go ahead. Write the letter. It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, but as long as it’s honest, personal and genuine – it will be the perfect Christmas gift for friends and family you care about.

Karen Osman
Karen Osman
Originally from England, Karen has lived the ex-pat life for the last 15 years across Asia, Europe and the Middle East. After completing a B.A. in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Durham, a two year period teaching in Tokyo was the start of a career that combined her two great loves; travel and the English language. Moving to Dubai in 2004, Karen engaged in a sales, marketing and public relations role for a luxury hospitality company. It was a great opportunity to develop communication for luxury brands, gaining experience in writing and adapting copy for both off-line and on-line channels. After identifying a gap in the market for specialised writing services for the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, Karen set up Travel Ink in 2011, steadily building the business to include some of the most high-profile hotels, airlines and tourism establishments in the region. In addition to her role as Managing Director, Karen is also the Travel and Tourism Chair Person for the British Business Group and a committee member of Business Network International.

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