Incorporating Writing into the Festive Season

Ten simple ideas for incorporating writing into your preparations for the festive season.

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What is your relationship to the high speed train of Christmas? Are you watching from the hill of detachment, the valley of isolation, or from under your duvet? Are you one of the few sitting comfortably on the train? Or are you in a nightmare, rushing along the platform, burdened by shopping bags, striving to leap aboard, moments before the doors close? Or awaiting your doom, chained across the tracks by the unrealistic expectations of an over-commercialised festival?

Has creative writing slithered down the greasy pole of your priorities? Here are ten ideas to use writing to brighten up your preparations for the festivities.

Writing Advent Calendar

Each day, either write down a snippet of real dialogue or capture an experience in words. Use them to create an essay, story or poem for sharing over the festive period.

Extra-Special Festive Cards

Compose a haiku or other short verse to handwrite into your cards. At its simplest, an English haiku is a short three-line poem comprised of a fragment, which is an image, and a phrase describing something which is happening. The juxtaposition of the fragment and phrase leads to an insight.

Remember the Highlights

Every evening in the run-up to Christmas, write down five highlights of your day—achievements, experiences and the little joys. A counterbalance to frustrations and the sense of time speeding up inexorably as you tackle an infinite list of tasks.

Christmas Stocking Surprise

Slip a poem, or short story, inspired by a loved one into their Christmas stocking. Imagine a child being enchanted by a cheeky poem or short story with their name in a starring role. Think about how touching it would be to receive an unexpected poem or story for which you were the inspiration.

Bring Balance

What makes Christmas and the festive season special? Write down five essential aspects that make it special for you. Then write down five aspects you would happily jettison. How would your answers compare with everyone with whom you will be sharing the festivities? By concentrating on the essentials, you may be able to reduce your effort and expense while enhancing everyone’s enjoyment. Your most hated aspects may be more bearable if you know they are making Christmas special for a loved one.

Appreciate One Another

If you will be sharing a meal with others, ask everyone to bring a personal thank you postcard for each guest they know who will be present. Allow each guest to show their appreciation for the impact of the past words and actions of their friends and family and share a happy, funny or poignant memory. Suggest sharing gratitude for specific actions or words which have had a positive impact on their lives. Your guests will feel appreciated and happy reminiscences will set the tone for the conversations.

The Soothing Power of Pen and Paper

Stressed, anxious, tearful, fearful? Dump your feelings onto paper, for your eyes only. The paper can take it and is cathartically easy to shred afterwards. Thoughts looping around in our heads tend to become structured during the process of writing. Increased clarity may bring a fresh, calmer perspective.

Share your Love of Writing

Encourage anyone—especially children and those who will be alone this festive season—to start or resume writing poetry, prose or a journal. As writers, we know that writing rewards us with comfort, escape and the joy of creativity. A surprise present of an age-appropriate pen and notebook could be transformational.

Cancel Christmas

What if Christmas and the festive season was cancelled? This is just an exercise, don’t actually cancel Christmas! Write your response by either letting your words flow onto the paper or listing separate answers. How would you brighten up the darkest days of winter?

A New Christmas Carol

Ghost stories were traditionally told around the fireside over the festive season. Hold a candle-lit ghost story evening where everyone reads their own short story aloud. Will your story be funny, romantic, scary, spooky, spine-tingling, thrilling…? The atmosphere could be heightened if each reader finished by snuffing one of the candles.


I hope you enjoy experimenting with writing over the festive season, and I hope you try out one or more of these ideas. Most of all, spend time with those you care about. Think of those you cannot be with, and use writing to bring you closer to those you can.

Navigating a river of travelogues, whirlpools of free-writing journaling, and plunging into the ocean of fantasy short stories.

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