We all love to party.
There’s nothing better than familiar faces, fun music and good food.
In the English-speaking world, one of our favorite reasons to celebrate is Christmas.
Towards the end of the year, Christmas music plays everywhere and Christmas decorations appear on the streets. Shops begin stocking up on festive food and gifts, schools and offices will close for the holiday and people begin preparing to welcome friends and relatives.
This is a cheerful time to be living or studying abroad, but you might find yourself a little confused by the unfamiliar language or etiquette for the holidays.
Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas yourself, it’s always nice to be able to share your good wishes like you would at any other time of year. We’ve put together some key English Christmas greetings to help you spread love and joy this season.
It’s time to get yourself in the party spirit and learn some English festive phrases!
Spread Good Cheer with These Sparkling English Christmas Greetings
The first recorded Christmas card was sent in 1611. But Christmas cards didn’t really become popular until 200 years later, when ordinary people could afford to send mail regularly. Nowadays, they aren’t just a tradition but a big commercial business, especially in the U.K. and the U.S. They’re a lovely keepsake that lots of people hold on to for sentimental (emotional) reasons.
In recent years, some businesses have started sending out Christmas cards to their clients as well. These friendly but impersonal greetings can be a nice touch, particularly if you work in a small company.
Plenty of people send cards or even longer Christmas letters to friends and family, which are often displayed in the house during the Christmas period. If you’d like to surprise an English-speaking friend, there are plenty of different phrases you can write inside your card.
Below, we’ll first cover common English greetings that are perfect for almost any holiday card, as well as conversations. Then we’ll recommend some more specific greetings for the different types of people you might be writing to. Finally, we’ll show you how to craft a more formal Christmas letter with example greetings in English.
1. Common English Christmas Greetings for Your Festive Cards
Sending a thoughtful Christmas card is a great way to practice English and participate in English-speaking holiday customs.
If you’re not one for sending cards, most of the greetings below can also be used in spoken English. We’ll let you know which ones are typically reserved for writing.
You can also check out the holiday-themed videos on FluentU to learn how native speakers use these greetings naturally. FluentU provides real English videos—like movie trailers, music videos, inspiring talks and more—with built-in interactive subtitles, quizzes and flashcards so you learn new words while you watch.
Sign up for a FluentU trial to watch videos like this mischievous guide to Christmas jokes (and much more) with all the learning features.
This is a very general greeting that means you’re wishing a person good health over Christmas. It’s quite impersonal, so it’s perfect for someone you don’t know too well.
Although it’s very common, you’re more likely to see this one written down than hear it spoken.
This is also an ideal phrase for someone you’re not very familiar with. If you don’t know whether they celebrate Christmas (or if you know they don’t) the word “holidays” makes your greeting less specific.
This is a very common one to hear out loud in all types of social situations towards the end of the year.
This is another very common greeting that’s specific to Christmas. You’ll see it written down and hear it spoken aloud many times during the Christmas season.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
This is a very common variation on the above greeting. It’s a standard phrase to see on Christmas cards.
A longer, more formal version would be: “Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”
(For whatever reason, you’re not likely to hear someone say, “Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.”)
Wishing you good tidings
“Tidings” is an archaic (very old) English word that we wouldn’t normally use today. It means “news” or “information.” If you go to church, you may hear it in Christmas hymns, which is why some people continue to write it in cards. This sort of greeting would be appreciated by a religious friend.
Due to its formal tone, this one is better for cards than conversation.
Wishing you peace and blessings this Christmas
The words “peace” and “blessings” often have a religious tone in English. This is a nice greeting to send somebody who you know is a Christian.
Again, this phrase is a little more formal, so you’re more likely to write it than to say it.
Wishing you warmth and good cheer
“Good cheer” is another way of saying “fun,” but we only tend to use it in Christmas greetings. In everyday speech, it would sound a bit old-fashioned.
This phrase is a way of reminding someone that they’re always in your thoughts, so you could send it to someone you don’t see too often.
2. Christmas Greetings for Specific Situations
You may want to personalize your holiday card with some more specific greetings. Below are some suggestions that you can use depending on who you’re writing to.
You can also mix these with the common English Christmas greetings above!
Thinking warmly of you and your family at this time
The holidays aren’t easy for everyone. If someone you know has lost a loved one, or has had to deal with a difficult event, a cheerful card might not be appropriate. A phrase like this subtly reminds someone that you have their circumstances (situation) in mind.
Wishing you a well-deserved rest and a relaxing new year
If you’re writing to your colleague or boss, make sure to let them know you value their input in the workplace! Your card is urging them to enjoy the time off, so avoid mentioning work itself!
Missing you and hope to see you in the new year
If you haven’t seen someone in a long time, it’s nice to use your message as a way of reconnecting with them. Suggesting a meet-up in the New Year gives someone time to get in touch over the holidays.
Thanks for all your help this semester! I hope you get the break you deserve.
If you’re studying in an English-speaking country, you may want to give a holiday card to your professor. This is a simple way of expressing gratitude and is sure to brighten their day.
The holidays begin when you arrive!
Remind your friends how much you enjoy their company! If someone is staying with you over the holidays, there’s nothing to stop you surprising them with a card too!
There’s no greater gift than spending time with you
If you’re writing to someone you see regularly, it’s nice to personalize your message. A phrase like this reminds a close friend that the best Christmas present is them!
3. Ideas for More Formal Christmas Letters
Christmas cards tend to be quite short, so some people like to write letters instead. These tend to be more formal than cards, and have more of a personal tone. You should only send them to people you’re really familiar with.
Letters aren’t very common these days, so that makes them even more special and valuable to the recipient. You might like to write a letter or email to English-speaking friends overseas to let them know how you’re doing. Writing a letter can be a bit challenging in a second language, but it’s a fun and creative test of your English writing skills.
Again, you can certainly mix the common English Christmas greetings from section one into your letter.
Christmas letters tend to have a cheerful, lighthearted tone. Don’t worry too much about using impressive vocabulary or sentence structures. It doesn’t need to be an essay!
Begin your letter with a seasonal greeting. For example:
“I hope this letter finds you well and you’re having a restful holiday.”
Follow this up by telling your friend a little about your own Christmas plans.
“I’ll be spending this Christmas with my brother and his fiancée.”
Now it’s time for an update. Reflect on the key events of your year. Where have you traveled? Have you started a new job or school? You could include some photos.
Remember to frame your stories in a way that doesn’t come across as boastful or egotistical. You want your friend to know that you’re grateful for your experiences, and aren’t just showing off.
“Everyone in my new office has been so welcoming.”
“I was lucky enough to visit Paris in March.”
Finish your letter by sending your wishes for the upcoming year. Remind your friend to write back!
“Wishing you an exciting New Year with plenty of good surprises ahead. I look forward to hearing from you.”
Sharing Christmas greetings is a clear way of letting someone know you’re thinking of them. Christmas can be very important to some English speakers, but may be less important to others. Either way, people will always appreciate you taking an active interest in their traditions.
English Christmas greetings will be easy to learn if you live in an English speaking country because you’ll hear them all the time. Once you’ve impressed your friends with them, you can teach them some in your own language…
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