How to write a holiday-themed blog post at the last minute

By Brittany Taylor

If I see another “10 things I’m grateful for this year” article, I’m going to scream into the gigantic bowl of cranberries parked on my dining room table.

It’s not that I don’t like gratitude; gratitude is great. I’m all for humility and marking the season of thanks by, you know, giving it. What I don’t like is this stream of posts with the same title, the same theme, and the same homogeneous list of things we professionals are thankful for.

This is why:

When you publish a cookie-cutter list, you fade into the background. There’s nothing about “10 things I’m grateful for this year” that makes you stand out. You could twist it—think: “10 things I survived this year that made me stronger” or “10 pieces of humble pie I swallowed this year—and what I learned from them”—but following the standard theme is pretty darn “blah.”

Worse?

It looks like you’re publishing according to a quota rather than quality or creativity. You see Thanksgiving circled on the calendar and think, “Oh! Gotta post something Thanksgiving-themed!” It feels gratuitous rather than thoughtful. With so much content on the ‘net, we don’t need another meaningless list.

What do we need? More of you, but with a holiday twist. Here’s how to get it right, even at the very last minute.

action plan

How to write a holiday-themed blog post

Enough of the Grinch-y gripes. It’s my favorite time of the year, guys. “Jingle Bells” is on the radio. Cinnamon brooms are in the produce aisle. And Elves on Shelves are destroying homes across America. Sigh. Isn’t it beautiful?

Let’s get down to business. If you’re determined to write a holiday-themed blog post, first you need to decide what kind it will be. There are three types of holiday blog posts:

  • Tutorial-type posts that directly address holiday issues. Think: “The fastest way to thaw your frozen turkey in time for Thanksgiving dinner” and “12 safe conversation topics for the holiday dinner table.” Here's an example.
  • Gift guides that tell people what to buy. Think: “Stock your guest room with these 10 cute holiday finds from the dollar store” and “25 stocking stuffers for the person who has everything”
  • Posts that are inspired by the holidays. Think: “How to deal with the Frosty the Snow Bitch living in your head: A guide to beating negative self-talk” and “25 days of mini workouts." Here's an example.

We’re going to take a closer look at each type of blog post as well as the best practices for writing them. Onward!

How to write a holiday tutorial blog post

Holiday tutorials can, for many business owners, become cornerstone brand content. They’re the sorts of posts that remain strong features year after year. The longer they’re live, the more SEO juju they have, setting you up for better and better holiday seasons in terms of web traffic.

The thing is, there are a lot of holiday tutorials living on the internet right now. For your post to become truly special, you need to make it better than 90 percent of the blog posts that have already been published. Researching what’s out there now is essential as you begin to write. The more aware you are of your competition, the more empowered you’ll be to raise the bar.

Must-dos for a holiday tutorial blog post:

  • Update it every year. This is particularly important if you’re including shopping links or any type of guidelines that might change from year to year. Plus, Google likes to see an updated post—and will rank it higher in search.
  • Link out! Don’t spend your time rewriting advice or how-tos that have already been done well. Instead, invest your time elsewhere and link out to basic information. Just make sure your links go to reputable sources.
  • Optimize for search and sharing. Ensure that your meta data is complete, that you’re using variations on your target search terms, and that your headline and description are Google-ready.
  • Protect your URL. If and when you change your domain name, it’s always important to redirect your old links to new ones so that you don’t frustrate visitors. With content that attracts a high volume of traffic, this is even more essential. Back links are gold. Don’t squander them by breaking your URL and not replacing it with an auto-redirect. You can do this easily using your server's cPanel.

How to write a holiday gift guide blog post

I love a good gift guide. The problem is that most gift guides are trash. They’re too short and they’re too predictable. Buying pencils for a writer? Yawn. Jack Daniels for a guy? Obvious.

Crafting a gift guide that people actually use to shape their giving takes time, focus, and extraordinary attention to detail. You need to be consistent in the way you present and format your items and the purchase information.

Your gift guide also needs to be at least one of two things: epic or niche. “100 gifts for girly-girls” is more intriguing than “10 gifts for girls.” More examples: “37 gifts for Ravenclaw bosses” and “21 white elephant swap gift ideas for coworkers."

5 tips to make creating your gift-guide go as smoothly as possible:

  • Double check order deadlines, shipping dates, and availability. Your visitors will be disappointed if they click through to an item that needed to be custom-ordered in September for holiday arrival.
  • Click through all your links before you make the post live. You don’t want to incorrectly link a gift!
  • Screenshot your gifts as you include them in your draft. That way, you will have a quick-reference of what you have and don’t have to go scrounging for images at the last moment.
  • Set parameters for your post before you start looking for gifts to include in it. It could be a theme, a dollar amount—anything that will limit your search.
  • Always include a note to demarcate affiliate links.

How to write a blog post inspired by the holiday season

Not to sway your brainstorming, but clever holiday-inspired blog posts are my favorite. A good inspired-by blog post salutes its source of inspo and follows through on the spirit of the idea. Think: tongue-in-cheek rather than on-the-nose.

(Psst! Click here to learn how to write a killer fluff post your audience will go nuts for)

I love a play on words, which is what makes these posts shine. Go funny, go raunchy, go niche, go dorky, go expected-with-a-twist. Whatever pun you pick, make it a running joke throughout your post. Let it carry over to your formatting. For example, a Rudolph-themed headline could include eight sub-headlines for each of Santa’s other reindeer.

3 ways to write a holiday-themed blog post that’s eminently shareable

  • Be quotable. Include click-to-tweet links or widgets that use those quotes. Get some mileage on those sassy words, boss!
  • Create and embed graphics that are eye-catching and impactful.
  • Include freebies, downloads, and add-ons that are fun, practical, and on-theme.  Playlists, shopping guides, worksheets, checklists—they’re all good!

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'Tis the season of giving and sharing! If you loved this post, pass it on. Help a fellow boss. And hey. Thanks for reading!

- Brittany Taylor

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