Give your Press Releases a Holiday Makeover!

 December 14, 2011
The Associated Press, those doyens and sages of the English language, or a bunch humorless killjoys (delete as appropriate) have announced a timely and interesting style guide to the Holiday season.  We’ve printed the highlights below but it also raises the key questions about being aware of your audience and their requirements.  As well as Christmas falling within the season, we have Hannukah, Kwanzaa and New Year celebrations so make sure you plan for these events and associated activity, or lack of it in the next few weeks. 

The AP’s guidance is particularly welcome as many press release writers will be sorely tempted, or may even have good reason, to throw many seasonal references into their work. And how many of us experienced or newer writers have even given a second thought to the terms we are using and whether they are being used accurately or correctly?

Every press release you write should not just be a cookie-cutter exercise, it should teach you something about your subject and you should end the process with a greater knowledge than when you began. If you can become a more thoughtful, considered and effective press release writer this holiday season then you will have given yourself a valuable present!


Advent – The four Sundays preceding Christmas.

“Auld Lang Syne” – Sung to greet the New Year, poem by Robert Burns set to Scottish music.

BETHLEHEM, West Bank (AP) — Dateline for AP stories from the biblical site of Jesus’ birth.

Boxing Day – Post-Christmas holiday Dec. 26 In British Commonwealth countries.

Christmastime – One word.

Christmas tree – Lowercase tree and other seasonal terms with Christmas: card, wreath, carol, etc. Exception: National Christmas Tree.

dreidel – Toy spinning top for Jewish celebrations.

happy holidays, merry Christmas, season’s greetings – Such phrases are generally spelled lowercase, though Christmas is always capitalized.

Holy Land – Capitalize the biblical region.

Kriss Kringle – Not Kris. Derived from the German word, Christkindl, or baby Jesus.
Magi – Three wise men who brought gifts to the infant Jesus at Epiphany, celebrated Jan. 6.

menorah – Candelabrum with nine branches used for Hanukkah.

Nativity scene – Only the first word is capitalized.

New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day – Capitalized for Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

North Pole – Mythical home of Santa Claus.

poinsettia – Decorative plant for Christmas; note the “ia.”

regifting – Passing along an unwanted present to someone else.

“A Visit From St. Nicholas” – Beloved poem by Clement Clarke Moore that begins, “ ‘Twas the night before Christmas …”

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” – Spell the numeral in the Christmas carol.

yule – Old English name for Christmas season; yuletide is also lowercase.

Xmas – Don’t use this abbreviation for Christmas.

Happy Xmas!, sorry, Christmas!

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