Holiday cards have been a long-standing tradition. In fact, 2014 marks the 171st birthday of the holiday card, according to TIME. Henry Cole was the first person to send one out in 1843. The card was designed by John Calcott Horsley and displayed a festive picture of a family toasting to the holiday season with a glass of red wine in hand. Below the family was a canopy of vines and the poor community being clothed and fed. However, it wasn't until the mid-1870s that the idea of holiday cards really caught on – Louis Prang, a Massachusetts printer, sold his design in 1856 in America, which is when the greeting card industry took off. Soon the holiday card designs ranged from nativity scenes to red-breasted robins, Santa and breathtaking snowy landscapes.
Holiday cards are often accompanied by letters as a way to keep your family and friends updated on what's going on in your life. These holiday cards are a great way to document your family history. Keep a copy of the letters you send each year to remind yourself of all the wonderful events and milestones that have passed. When it comes time to construct your holiday letter for this year, keep these do's and don'ts in mind:
Do start off on a positive note
Instead of beginning your letter stating how much time has passed, start off with a positive sentiment such as "Oh, what a year it has been!" or "It's that time of year again, where we're reminded of the importance of family and friends."
Don't make it too long
It can be daunting to open up a holiday letter and find multiple pages of single-spaced words. Keep your letter short and sweet. You can include all you need to say about the high points of the year in few paragraphs. As a general rule, you should keep your holiday letter about one page long.
Do inject your personality
Instead of writing what you think people want to hear, write in your own voice. Write as you would speak to bring your own personality to the letter – it makes it more interesting to read.
Don't write before consulting
If you're planning on writing about particular family members, you'll want to consult with them before you publish certain personal facts. Chances are, they'll be fine with you sharing information about their recent promotion, but it's always a good idea to ask first.
Do keep your audience in mind
Having an audience in mind as you write can be helpful in determining the tone and voice of your letter. For instance, if you're planning on sending out letters to both co-workers and family members, you may want to construct two separate letters. Your co-workers may not be interested in family matters, while your family might not want to hear about office chatter. Holiday letters don't always fall under a one-size-fits-all category. You should also be careful about the vocabulary you use, as the person you're sending the letter to may not celebrate the same holidays as you.
Don't forget to look it over
Always proofread your holiday letters before sending them out. While you're writing, it can be easy to make a grammar or spelling error, and those mistakes can take away from the quality and credibility of your writing. Read over your letter a few times, and ask a close friend to read it as well. They may spot something that you won't.
Do end on a positive note
Just as you started with a positive message, you should end the same way. Express your well wishes and hope for a great holiday to the recipient.
Don't choose an unreadable font
You may like the look of a certain font, but before you use it, ask yourself if it's easy to read. Serif fonts like Garamond, Bookman, Palatino, Courier and Georgia are typically easier for people to read.