Everyday Etiquette: How to Write a Holiday Letter

Write a Holiday Letter … to Santa (or Grandma)

Diane GottesmanThe holidays are a wonderful time to either introduce or reinforce letter-writing skills. What better way to motivate your child than by having him or her write a special holiday letter to someone he or she admires. Making the letter-writing project “fun” will be an incentive for your child to write multiple letters.

Setting the Stage – Take time to discuss the project, plan for it and mark it on the calendar. Once you’ve chosen a date, stick to the plan. This shows your child that you consider the project important.

Select a time of day when your child is well-rested, nourished and alert. A sleepy child will not enjoy the activity as much as a child who is focused and alert. Much like a hungry adult, if her little tummy is grumbling, she will be distracted and preoccupied with “What’s for dinner?” During the activity, offer a healthy snack or plate of holiday cookies to get the creative juices flowing.

Make the mood festive. Turn on some holiday music, light candles and sip cider or hot cocoa. Have a good selection of supplies available, such as a box of crayons, colored pencils, festive paper, envelopes, a dictionary and holiday stamps.

Consider broadening the experience to a letter-writing “party.” Invite some of your child’s friends over to join the fun. Other moms can lend a hand, too.

Before you begin, explain the significance of writing and receiving a well-thought-out letter. The formality and precision of the letter depends on the age and attention level of the child. If the child is very young, a few scribbles and a picture will send Mrs. Claus’ heart a flutter and serve as a good introduction to letter writing.

Getting Started – Don’t forget to have your child date the letter. A date is always special when looking back and remembering the efforts of little hands.

Begin the letter with a greeting, such as “Hello Aunt Lucy and Uncle Bob” or “Dear St. Nick.” When writing to a relative, use the name that your child calls him or her in person, such as “Dear Aunt Jane.”

What to Say – In the body of the letter, emphasize the importance of showing an interest in the person to whom he or she is writing. Next, suggest that they mention a few things that have happened recently in their life.

With young children, it is important to guide, not micromanage, their letter-writing efforts.

The emphasis should be on the act of kindness and holiday spirit, not writing form. Be careful not to discount any ideas the child may have when creating their holiday masterpiece.

If your child is writing a letter to Santa it is fine to mention a few toys he or she is interested in receiving. When writing to a friend, a cousin or Uncle Lou, it is not proper manners to ask for a present. (This would be a good time to remind your child that a gift is a courtesy, not an obligation.)

Near the end of the letter, you may encourage your child to say something nice, such as “Santa, I hope you keep warm on Christmas Eve. I will leave some cookies and milk out for you.” Or “Uncle Gene, I hope you have a happy holiday season.” By doing this, your child learns to express goodwill toward others.

Have your child close the letter by saying “Love, Samantha,” “Your Friend, Zack” or “Yours Truly, Megan.” Signing their name in their own handwriting is the icing on the holiday cake.
A few well-chosen words go a very long way in making the holidays more joyous and memorable, especially when written by the hands of a child.