How to Write a Farcical Holiday Letter

Last year I heard a lot of talk about holiday letters—mostly how tired everyone was of the bragging involved. Devious person that I am, I set out to write one that was so funny and outrageous people would clamor to read it. What my husband and I came up with was a hit, which made me think I should share my thoughts on how to create such a masterpiece. You know, so I could have an excuse to drag ours out again this year in the name of educating the masses.

The following is my basic formula for a hit holiday letter, with examples provided:

  1. The achievements depicted should contain enough truth, and enough of an individualized flair, that they’ll make your friends and family groan. (In the letter below, Bob is a mechanic who’s not exactly the epitome of physical fitness, and I’m a cat-lover who’s far too “Type A” to ever achieve enlightenment.)
  2. While you should use a personal touch, the ideas and traits should also be universal enough to be funny to a complete stranger. (Hence the men-and-toilet-seats joke and the reference to swimwear for cats.)
  3. If you don’t have a lot of people in your family, include your pets. (All four of our cats got billing in our letter.) If you don’t have pets, consider an inanimate object. For example, a car that’s notorious for being a clunker might have achieved immortality by securing a place in Carhenge.
  4. Use photos to liven it up. If you can pose or Photoshop them to make them ridiculous, that will add to the laughs.
  5. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, let the family get involved. (My husband provided a lot of the stuff in our letter.)
  6. Make it outrageous enough that no one can possibly mistake it for fact. If you have any doubts about the gullibility of your friends and relations, include a humorous disclaimer.
  7. Keep it to one page. Really, you’re not THAT funny.

Dear Friends and Family,

Holiday greetings! We have had a truly wondrous year and would like to share news of our good fortune with you.

This summer, Bob hiked the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail in his Birkenstocks while carrying three Haitian orphans on his back. In September, he invented a fuel injection system that will allow cars to get 500 miles per gallon. But most impressive of all, after years of intensive training, he finally learned how to put down the toilet seat.

Lisa started the year by designing an entire line of swimwear for cats. In March she achieved enlightenment and went to Tibet to have a beer with the Dalai Lama.  In October, movie studios went into a bidding frenzy for the rights to her best-selling, coming-of-age/mystery/fantasy/thriller tome, “Larry Otter: Prisoner Of The Marshy Mallows.”

Margaret received national recognition for watching every program broadcast by the Hallmark Channel in 2010. In addition, she single-handedly saved Barnes and Noble from financial ruin with her online purchases.

As for the cats, Keelan and Loki achieved fame by e‘rat’icating all the vermin from the state of Oregon and chasing them back to California. A special award will be presented by Governor Kitzhaber in January.

Dakota was called to Washington D.C. to spearhead a campaign entitled, “A Mouse in Every Pot And A Cat On Every Lap.” Despite an embarrassing altercation with the First Dog, she received bipartisan support.

Laptop was a bit less ambitious, but none-the-less discovered a cure for depression. She is currently in negotiations with Pfizer.

In closing, we’d just like to say, if anything in this letter strikes you as the least bit plausible, please go out and stock up on hay. Santa’s bringing you a pony.*

Best wishes,

Bob & Lisa

*(Okay, maybe the part about Laptop was true.)

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13 Responses to How to Write a Farcical Holiday Letter

  1. I’m with you. I can’t stand being seriousness in my Christmas letters. And I don’t have big trips to Europe to brag about. Last year I took the humorous approach and hyperbolized or made fun of certains aspects of our lives. It was fun to write!


  2. Love it! This really is hilarious. We don’t send holiday letters, but if we did, yours would be the template we’d use!


  3. That gif is pretty cute.

    In the holiday letter from my grandmother, she mostly talked about how I should be just like my own mother. My only thought was, “uh, thanks?”


  4. Marla Bowie LePley says:

    Excellent! love it – thanks for the good laugh. Hope you don’ t mind if I post this on my facebook page.
    Your friend and critique group partner, Marla.


  5. Deja vu! 😉

    Forgot to mention how much I love this idea, too. I’ve only ever done a Christmas newsletter once in my life, and it was far too serious for my liking. Too late this year, but in 2012 – look out!


  6. Elle Strauss says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Lisa!


  7. Beth says:

    We quit sending Christmas letters when they began being delayed til April because of lack of interest since we were no longer moving to a new country/state every three or four years. How much can you say after 22 years in OC?


  8. Roxie Matthews says:

    What sort of training regime did you use on Bob, and what did he do with the orphans when he was done?


  9. Rose L says:

    What?!! No dinner with the Queen????
    You are so funny.


  10. Next year I’m going to HAVE to write Christmas letters. And most importantly, I’m going to have to write letters while using your awesome tips. Thanks, Lisa!


  11. Orice Klaas says:

    Yours inspired me to return to the Christmas letter too. Only this time, I’ll stick to one page and try some humor.


  12. Barb says:

    Those funny cats should run for office.


  13. Lisa Nowak says:

    Thanks, everybody. It sounds like there will be a whole slew of funny holiday letters making the rounds next year. Be sure to put me on your mailing list! In fact, if any of you are interested in doing a funny holiday letter blog hop, just let me know and I’ll put it together. It could be a hoot. 🙂


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