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The best holiday writing prompts

Friends and family gathering. Running around and completing errands. Hours in the kitchen. Dinners, celebrations, parties. Holidays of all kinds come with their fair share of drama, emotion, and story-fodder. Narratives of all kinds can unfold during these busy times. That’s why this list of creative writing prompts includes the theme: holidays.

We’re not just talking about reindeers, turkey, and stringing lights on the tree. Our prompts cover all manner of holidays, from Easter to April Fools to Groundhog Day. And whether the holidays are a time of joy and happiness for your characters, or more difficult, you get to decide the mood.

There’s a lot to choose from, so if you need help deciding, here’s our top 10 holiday writing prompts:

  • You own a Christmas Tree stall. One evening, a young boy comes in and picks the smallest, scrawniest tree you have.
  • Write a story that only consists of New Year's Resolutions.
  • Write a story that only consists of letters to Santa.
  • It's the night before Christmas. You are a stirring mouse in an otherwise totally quiet house.
  • Write a story about a "chosen family" dinner, where no one is related by blood, but they still feel like family.
  • Create a holiday of your own and write a story about it.
  • Write a short story about someone with unconventional New Year's traditions.
  • Write about the best April Fool's Day prank that you could ever pull.
  • You’re stuck in a time loop with the same holiday happening over and over — the only rule is that it can’t be Groundhog Day.
  • An advertising firm lands a huge contract to make Easter the year’s most popular holiday.

Looking for some more tips for writing for your holiday story? You’ve come to the right place. Here are some resources that you may find helpful — consider them a holiday gift, from us to you:

  • How to Master the 'Show, Don't Tell' Rule (free course) — Twinkling decorations, frosty weather, the smell of delicious food cooking — the holidays are a treat for the senses, and those kinds of details help evoke the right mood for your story. The best way to make your story as immersive as possible is to master the golden rule of Show, Don’t Tell.
  • Character profile template (free resource) — A lot of holiday stories are driven by emotion, just like the holidays themselves. Perhaps your character has fallen on hard times, and is having a crisis of faith. Maybe they’re returning home after a long stretch away, just in time for the holidays. Or perhaps your story is less emotional, but nonetheless character driven — our hero is a serial procrastinator, on the hunt for the perfect gift. Either way, you’ll need to know your character inside and out, and that’s where the character profile template comes in.

Want more help learning how to write a holiday short story? Check out How to Write a Short Story That Gets Published — a free, ten day course by Laura Mae Isaacman, a full-time editor who runs a book editing company in Brooklyn.

Ready to start writing? Check out Reedsy’s weekly short story contest, for the chance of winning $250! You can also check out our list of writing contests or our directory of literary magazines for more opportunities to submit your story.