22 ways to trick your brain so you can write holiday content any time of year (yep, even during a heat wave)
by Brittany Taylor
published September 5, 2018
¶ The 6 weeks between my birthday and January 1 is my favorite time of year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s? Hells yes! In my not-terribly-humble opinion, these 6 weeks are loaded with the best music, the best food, the best clothes, and the best traditions.
But triple the fun means triple the stress, which is why I try to get as much done before the holiday crush descends as I possibly can. And that, friends, means getting down ‘n’ dirty with the holidays when the weather is balmy and the Santa hats are packed away.
Easier said than done, I know.
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It’s hard enough to feel Christmas-y when there are palm trees waving merrily outside your window on December 24. It’s harder still when you’re dripping sweat during the Dog Days of summer or carving pumpkins for Halloween.
When I worked at The Magazine, we started prepping our holiday issue in July. July. One minute, I’d be focused on bikinis and beach parties. The next, I was trying to summon my inner elf. How did I do it? By pulling out my bag of holiday tricks.
Here are my tried-and-true tips for getting into the right frame of mind for brainstorming holiday content, no matter what time of year it is.
I’m not a person who writes to music. When I’m in the groove, I need silence or static-y background noise I can tune out. Instead, I occasionally use music to inspire me, to put me in a certain mood or to pull me out of a rut. Writing holiday content off-season is one of those occasions.
Below, I’ve embedded my fallback playlist from my days at The Magazine. Listening to the holiday Top-40 tends to piss me off mid-summer, so I like the less-obvious choices like Tchaikovsky or covers by more unexpected artists.
Taste memories are strong. It’s why we make the same food every year—just the act of eating it makes us associate it with the holidays that have come before. Whip up a little Christmas in July-style feast (or maybe just a mug of something yummy to get you through the mid-afternoon slump) to tap into those foodie feels.
I grew up in Florida, so you’d think I’d be used to warm winters. It turns out that 10-plus years in New Jersey got me accustomed to frosty falls and snow days come December. Now, living in Charleston, my biggest mental block to planning holiday content early is the temperature. I miss my sweater weather!
So, sometimes I cheat. Sometimes, I turn down the A.C. a degree or two or put a fan on my desk. Then, I bundle up. Sweaters, socks, scarves—I pull out all my favorites to ward off my self-induced chill.
A more environmentally friendly (and budget-friendly) option: Hold your wrists under cool running water, or slide an ice cube across your forehead and the nape of your neck.
Can I tell you a secret? An admittedly large part of me wants to mount a cinnamon broom above my bed so I can savor that sharp, spicy smell all year round. I want to raid the display at the Publix down the street and stash one in every closet. Being known as the woman-that-smells-like-cinnamon? Definitely not a bad thing.
When I smell cinnamon brooms, I know the holiday season has officially begun. But when cinnamon brooms can’t be found, well, a jar of ground cinnamon, a cinnamon stick, or a box of Hot Tamales get the job done, too.
Maybe you’re into pumpkin spice or vanilla. Maybe you like a little fresh-cut pine. Whatever scent switches the season on for you, mentally, try to bring it to your desk for a few hours.
Little Women. Harry Potter. The Muppets Christmas Carol. Great holiday stories abound. If you’re like me and you feel stories deep down in your soul, diving in to an old favorite might be the push you need to write holiday content before the season officially kicks off.
If you’re opting for a book or movie, go with one you don’t normally consume during the holidays itself. Why? You don’t want to burn out on a tradition you enjoy. Instead, try making this a new tradition, a new way to rediscover your favorite stories or to discover new ones.
My name is Brittany, but my friends and clients call me "Britt." Online small business owners hire me to create content strategies and write their blog posts, email newsletters, and social media updates. I work with bosses around the world from the marshes of Charleston, S.C.