It’s hard to remember now, but before social media exploded holiday cards were probably our best and most effective means of making friends, family, and neighbors feel terrible about themselves. Before we could instamagically show off every last tree-farm visit, batch of ginger snaps, and travel-basketball team group shot, the worst of us had to surreptitiously try to cram a year’s worth of self-important updates into one card. One card. Truly, those were the dark ages.
But while it’s super easy to proclaim your superiority on the internet, you can still use the safe cover of Christmas cheer to really give it to all those people who bragged their way through the year. Like those damn Hendersons who love to post absurdly long, detailed stories about their kids’ fancy summer camp (Tim was a real natural on that horse! Cindy really has a knack for falconry!) and casually drop photos of cars wrapped in bows like they’re in a December to remember commercial. (Does anyone do that? Oh yeah, the Hendersons!) Or, for that matter, anyone else whose skin you want to burrow under. For many, the holiday card is the annual chance to not so casually cram your good fortune under others’ noses.
Here’s how to weaponize your holiday greetings to shove as much humblebragging as you can into a 5×7 slab of cardstock from Shutterfly.
Photoshop your family to within an inch of its glowing, burnished life. This goes without saying, but you’re not using pictures that were “spontaneously taken in a joyful moment,” right? Your grandparents did that, although they didn’t have any joyful moments because they had to sit unsmiling in front of a huge box camera for six minutes. You, meanwhile, have the power to remove every blemish, pore, wrinkle, gray hair, burgeoning gut, and non-smiling child using all the technology the Lord has gifted you. Alternately, just hit up Sears Portrait Studio. They could really use your money. Either way, you want to produce photos that make Cousin Carol, or whoever the gloatiest member of your family is, to clench her jaw hard upon seeing your smooth, smooth faces.
Using a vacation photo? Great idea. Make sure to capture all the scenic beauty of wherever you were to make everyone freezing their genitals off in late December know how warm you were when this was taken. Just make sure the framing is nicely balanced between the gorgeous, picturesque scenery in the background, and your big bulbous face in the front. Bonus points if you can use the Selfie Angle, which tells the world, “I wasn’t comfortable handing my phone to a stranger.”
Of course, you wouldn’t use just one photo. That would mean you’re putting all your humblebrags in one basket, like a chump. You want to opt for a ludicrous template that includes four to six photos on the front. Even if it means most of those photos are about six molecules wide, who cares? Your family had so much fun you want to cram it all in. Hell, imagine all the fun you had that didn’t make this collage. Oh, and if you’re on a beach, everybody needs to be wearing white shirts and khaki pants. If you’re not, those children better goddamn well be wearing reindeer sweaters and bow ties.
You know how many holiday cards are one sheet? How the actual figgy shit are you supposed to get 12 pictures onto that? We recommend one of those fold-out models, the kind that are generally reserved for kids’ birthdays or children’s books about trains.
Break out your best Mark Twin impression and write some I-get-paid-by-the-word tidings. Some people think holiday letters have become passe. Those people are overweight pudding blobs who get excited about the new Grinch movie, wear Crocs to the grocery store, and think that you can cure forest fires by raking. Holiday letters remain an exceedingly efficient way to get paragraphs of your family’s important achievements into a single three or four sheets of letter paper. Include it all: Your trips, your children’s first steps (on an uncharted slice of Antarctica) and first words (spoken to a just-discovered species of moth they found in your 50-acre backyard), your promotion, the repairs to the master bath. Remember: When it comes to conveying actual Little League statistics, no font is too small.
Do you have a new baby? Go ahead and photoshop a nice aura around it.
Just lean into what the Christmas season is really about: Glitter! And decorative, fancy-rounded edges! If 12 ounces of silver glitter doesn’t fall off your card, it means you are not merry enough. Any idiot can write a card that says, “Hey, thinking about you, sorry we don’t see you more, but we hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!” But it takes a true friend to adorn those wishes with gold foil paper and bling.
Don’t forget to bust out the calligraphy pen (with gilded ink of course) for your signature. Nothing says we hope your family is happy and healthy by gracing the note with your ornate and ludicrously swirly John Hancock. (“Look at his handwriting. He must be doing well!“) Happy holidays, folks.