6 Things Writers Should Remember at the Holidays

Yep, like it or not, we will soon be entering the holiday season. Whether this makes you happy or not, this opens up possibilities for writers.

One rule for writers has always been you must read. That’s because reading not only lets you understand what others are writings and keeps you up on trends, it also broadens your perspective and allows you to learn about new things, new techniques, and new worlds. By observing what others are doing, it helps you shape your own writing into new and different things.

With that in mind, here are 6 things writers should remember around the holidays to broaden their writing horizons and use as sources of inspiration.

Noodle Kugel

1. Many things happen around the holidays that don’t happen the rest of the year. People take the time to do things that they wouldn’t (or can’t) normally do throughout the year, such as volunteering at soup kitchens on Thanksgiving, or donating children’s toys at Christmas. Sometimes people just act nicer. Take note of how people behave, the things they do and say.

2. There’s a lot of food around during the holidays. Try something you’ve never tried before, whether it’s candy corn at Halloween, homemade cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving, buttermilk pie at Kwanzaa, kugel at Hanukkah, eggnog at Christmas, black-eyed peas at New Year, or moon cake at Chinese New Year. You may or may not like it, but it will be a new experience that you can incorporate into your writing.

cat3. Some people have special clothes they wear for specific holidays. Jot down notes describing those clothes, and maybe use them in a story. I mean, no one would wear the outfit on the left any other time of year, would they? (But, then, maybe they would. And, no, that’s not me in the photo.)clothes

4. Listen to the music that comes on the radio or that’s played in the stores. Holiday songs are often about singing, dancing, eating, drinking wassail, and greeting each other in the street with a cheery attitude and colorful packages under your arm, while a loverly snowfall blankets the town in pure, sparkling white and the jingle-jangle of bells on horses pulling sleighs rings through the air. But some holiday songs are deeply meaningful. They tell stories of sadness, loneliness, and despair. Or they’re about being far away from home during the time of year when families are supposed to be together. Pay attention to the messages these songs are conveying and use those sentiments for your characters.snuggie

5. You see many things advertised on TV and in stores that you never knew existed. All fodder for your story! (What comes to mind is an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Leonard Hoffsteder is getting ready to go to the North Pole with the other main male characters. When his ex-girlfriend Penny finds out, she gives him a farewell gift: a Snuggie. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a blanket with sleeves, and come holiday time, commercials for Snuggies abound. You just don’t see them the rest of the year.)

6. The “holiday season” consists of numerous celebrations and observances. Just because it’s not your holiday, that doesn’t mean you can’t write about it.

Feel free to add your own Holiday Tips for Writers. And get thyself ready…they’re heeerrrrre.1ccf2a15f7c40130a5af136ec730e2dd






  1. If you want to earn brownie points with your Jewish friends, don’t wait till December to wish us happy holidays. Rosh Hashana is Oct 2 so any time from now until mid October is a good time to wish us a Happy New Year. Hannukah is really a minor holiday that was bumped up in importance much more recently. Also, my own feeling about what term to use: if I know someone celebrates it, I’ll wish them a Merry Christmas. If I’m not sure, I’ll wish them a happy holiday season. (People sometimes ask me why it bothers me if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas. I tell them, it doesn’t bother me, it just gives me the same feeling it would if someone wished me a Happy Father’s Day.)

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  2. Following up on what Alison said, different types of noodle kugel are served all year long. Sweet noodle kugel is normally associated with Rosh Ha’Shanah, not Hanukkah. Hanukkah is all about the fried foods: latkes and sufganiyot are most traditional for European Jews and I know Sephardic Jews tend to serve Bimuelos (a type of fritter). Some traditions also say to serve dairy foods on Hanukkah, but there is nothing specific.


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