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cupcakeGood holiday recipes are always in demand—which is why if you’ve got one, chances are you’ll be asked to share it. And share it, you should. Whether you’re participating in a holiday cookie exchange or bringing a crowd-pleasing dish to Christmas Eve dinner, sharing a holiday recipe is a giving gesture and a great way to pass on a holiday tradition. Plus, you'll get to hone your writing skills in the process.

There are no set-in-stone rules on writing holiday recipes, but you’ll want to keep a few things in mind before you get started:

Make Your Holiday Recipe Coherent

Recipes aren’t the place to get creative with words, especially at holiday time. Cooks and bakers want to know one thing: how to make your holiday treat just like you did. The more straightforward you are, the better for them. Write your holiday recipe using easy language, a step-by-step format, and short, succinct (not necessarily complete) sentences.

Pay Attention to Recipe Symbols and Spacing

Typing out a recipe versus handwriting it will help you avoid errors, but be sure to use proper mechanics when writing recipes. For example, 1 14 oz. can might read as 114 ounces. Instead, write 1-14 oz. can or one 14-ounce can. Likewise, 11/2 teaspoons is better written 1&1/2 teaspoons. And avoid confusing abbreviations, like "T" for tablespoon and "t" for teaspoon; spell out measurements instead.

Test Your Holiday Recipe

Holiday cooking is different than everyday cooking: time is limited and stress is often high, so there’s no room for error. If you’re giving away a new recipe—something you haven’t made yet yourself—do a trial run first. You may decide it isn’t as good as you thought or that it needs some tweaks. Test out a new recipe, and you’ll be more confident when you write and share it.

Add Helpful Tips

Do you decorate your holiday cookie a certain way? Does adding an optional ingredient to your holiday casserole make it moister? Do cooking times vary depending on the texture you prefer? If there’s something you do to make your recipe especially yummy, include it. Tips are always helpful for bakers and cooks, especially at holiday time, when success matters most.

Review and Edit

Never share a recipe without looking it over for mistakes. One tablespoon off can turn your favorite holiday treat into a disaster for the next person making it. Look over the ingredient list carefully, double check baking temperatures and times, edit for spelling and grammar, and make sure all the steps are included. Check for minor typos, too—they can throw off a cook.

‘Tis the season of giving, so go ahead, share a favorite holiday recipe. And help make someone else’s holiday as bright—and tasty—as yours.

Image: Courtesy of tawest64

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Happy_Holidays_(5318408861)With many of us still enjoying the fall colors and warm afternoons, it’s hard to believe that the holiday season kicks off next month. For writers, that thought can bring a wave of anxiety, knowing we have only weeks to write—I mean seriously write—before the holiday hustle and bustle set in. But don’t let anxiety keep you from making these next few weeks productive. In fact, now is a great time to get busy writing, make some sales, and get into the holiday spirit.

Need some suggestions on how to get started? Check out this list of holiday-themed writing ideas that’ll lure you straight to your computer.

  1. Think of a particularly funny, emotional, or inspirational anecdote from a past holiday—a long, lost relative who showed up at Christmas dinner; a historical blizzard that changed holiday plans; or a holiday prank that backfired. Write an essay for an anthology or draft a blog post.
  2. Re-read some of your favorite childhood holiday stories, then think of a new way to tell the story, using modern characters, settings, plot twists, and themes. Write your new holiday story and submit it to a children’s magazine.
  3. Need a deadline to get you motivated to write? Research holiday contests, like those from FanStory.com, and choose a contest with a theme that inspires you. Write your story or article, keeping in mind the deadline, and enter it in the contest.
  4. Write an acrostic poem about the holidays. Acrostic poems are easy and fun, and they can be written for personal enjoyment or sale. All you need to do to get started is come up with a holiday-related word. For more information on writing acrostic poems, see my earlier blog post.
  5. Pick an item in your home that reminds you of the holidays. It might be a knick-knack on your fireplace mantel, a table furnishing, a photograph, or just something with holiday colors. Use that item as a starting point for a mystery, romance, or historical fiction story.
  6. Have a favorite holiday recipe that you’re willing to share? Many magazines, websites, and newspapers look for recipe submissions to share with their readers. Consider writing a brief history or background to submit with your recipe.
  7. Many animals remind us of the holidays—reindeer, puppies, and cardinals, to name a few. Choose an animal that you associate with this time of year and research the connection. Write an article discussing the unique correlation between the animal and the holiday season.
  8. Pick a country that you would like to know more about and learn how they celebrate—if they celebrate—the holidays. Stories about other cultures are widely popular with both children and adults. Check Writer’s Market for publications that accept cultural holiday stories, and submit.
  9. If you’re looking for gift ideas, why not give the gift of your writing? Put together a booklet of holiday memories, with pictures, for friends and family. Or, make a calendar filled with favorite photos, and write a short description with each month’s entry.
  10. Start a holiday journal for personal use. Discuss your thoughts on the upcoming season and New Year. You might also use your journal to brainstorm for writing ideas, goals, and plans for the next few months or year ahead.

The holiday season is fast approaching, but there’s still plenty of time to write. Choose any or all of the above ideas, and make these next few weeks and months some of the most productive yet.

For more help on writing holiday stories, see last year's post For Some Festive Fun, Write a Holiday Story.

Image by Marcus Quigmire

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holiday ornamentWith the holidays fast approaching, you might be thinking about writing a holiday story. What’s great about holiday stories is that they aren’t just for kids. Adults love to read stories with a holiday theme, too. But no matter who your target audience, there are a few things to keep in mind when writing a holiday story.

First and foremost, a good story is key. The holiday element matters, of course, but the characters, plot, and writing style matter more. Like any story, a holiday story that doesn’t engage and satisfy the reader—child or adult—won’t be appealing and won’t sell.

Here are some other tips for writing a holiday story:

  • Choose a fresh twist on a holiday theme; overdone holiday stories are just that, overdone.
  • Be respectful of cultural diversity and the many ways people celebrate holidays.
  • Depending on the publication, be cautious about involving religion or overemphasizing it.
  • Aim to uplift, inspire, and entertain the reader, and include humor if possible.
  • For children’s stories, add a creative activity, such as a holiday game, craft, or recipe.
  • Submit a holiday story well in advance of the holiday (check writer’s guidelines for exact deadlines).

Make this season merry and bright, and write a holiday story. Whether you submit it now or next season or just share it with the family, you can’t go wrong. Everyone likes this festive time of year, not to mention a good holiday read.

Image by Domaniqs