3 Ways Your Brand Can Celebrate The Holidays (Without Offending Anyone)

“At your company, is it ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas?'”

It’s a question I ask all of my clients at Checkmate Consulting each November. And every November, it’s amazing to watch their physical reactions. They perk up and almost always instantly reply “Merry Christmas!” (it’s the Midwest after all), but then, the gears start turning. I watch the physical reaction as they mull over the big question.

“… Well, we don’t want to offend anyone …”
“… We want to be as inclusive as possible with potential customers …”
“… Maybe ‘happy holidays’ would be a better fit.”

But here’s my secret:

You don’t have to post ‘Happy Holidays’ OR ‘Merry Christmas’ on a brand’s social media platforms to get into the spirit of the season and to engage with your audience. It just takes a few tricks of the English language and a few shiny balls. Here’s three ways your brand can celebrate the holidays on social media (without offending anyone).

1. Don’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ OR ‘Happy Holidays’

Are you a writer? If you’re managing a brand’s social media presence, you should be. If not, let’s do a little exercise we all can benefit from: What pops into your head when I say ‘Christmas songs?’ We all know the words to carols and Mariah Carey’s Christmas chart topper. Using phrases of Christmas song lyrics can help instill that spirit of the season* in your content without screaming CHRISTMAS, all caps.

Let me give you some examples:
“May your Monday be merry and bright! Thanks for attending our conference last week.”
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year — buy a new cable sweater for 20 percent off today only.”
“On those silent nights, it’s important to know that your family is in good hands. Contact an insurance agent today.”
“There’s no place like home for the holidays. Score an oversized area rug for 40 percent off, now through Sunday.”
“Have a holly jolly weekend! We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got in stock and what’s on sale on our shelves.”

These subtle shout-outs echo the concept that your brand is engaged in your audience’s life without promoting a religious worldview for your neutral product or service.

2. Use the seasonal, spectacular magic of alliteration and rhyme

There’s something inherently, wonderfully whimsical about alliteration. It rolls off the tongue like it’s a present from our language, and if it’s done well, alliteration can be playful, joyful — even funny. Plus, in most cases, when you start pairing nouns that remind us of the season (trees, holly, mistletoe, presents, stockings, lights, family, etc) with a more colorful adjective that begins with the noun’s same letter or with a rhyme, you have created magic without heading to the North Pole.*

Here’s some examples of how to use neutral, festive phrases:
“Bright lights will guide you home this season. Pick up chandeliers 20 percent off today.”
“Packages, presents and persistence is needed for a spectacular season. Discover the best deals for your gift list at Ren’s Boutique.”
“Are you nearly naughty or naturally nice? Either way, treat yourself to one of our naturally noel homemade hand lotions, made with love.”
“‘Twas the night before our spectacular sale, and with prices this low, the boss has gone pale. ‘Get here early,’ he was sure to have said — ‘And your new car, we’ve got it in red.'”
“Mischievous mistletoe has us feeling feisty. Come in tonight for a spicy take on our famous mac and cheese.”

3. Use lots and lots of shiny balls (or generic holiday images).

Christmas decor is everywhere, and much of it has very little to do with a particular worldview.

So my gift list for your content this December is this: Shiny glass ball ornaments around New Year’s? Check. Garland and a red bow near Christmas Eve? Check. Winter scene on a snow day? Check. Instead of doing product shots attached to your post’s copy, why don’t you place your boutique’s hottest watch next to three glass ornaments? Use those generic holiday decor items as a way to connect the dots between Dec. 25 and your non-holiday content, while appearing as a pretty image in your audience’s feeds.*

“At your company, is it ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas?'”

It’s a big question with potentially bigger consequences. But if your company or decision maker wants one, use it wholeheartedly and schedule those Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 posts with a loud declaration of either phrase. But if you use a dash of creativity and a sprinkle of content management, your audience won’t even miss those season’s greetings.*

*These sentences don’t use any mention of ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Merry Christmas,’ but you knew what I was referencing as you read it. If I can do it, you can do it, too.