It’s the time of year when joyful cards start lining your mantle. But sitting down to write these cards can inspire a "Bah, humbug." Even if you’re not a writer, the best way to keep your holiday mood jolly while writing your cards is to change up your wording. Try to make each message of love and gratitude special in its own way, and your cards may live on the fridge until next year.

Stuck for writing inspiration? Here’s a short list of festive phrases to help your mission to spread a little cheer now and throughout the next year.

Start with the basics

Here’s an easy holiday greeting: “Have yourself a merry and bright holiday season!” Use this phrase for a warm up. As you keep writing it, variations will naturally come to you, especially if you’ve set a celebratory mood with glowing candles and a glass of eggnog — or two.

Christmas carol titles also make great greetings. Consider using recognizable phrases and lyrics on cards to mail to troops stationed overseas, nursing homes, and other groups who could use an extra lift in their spirits this time of year.

Keeping it professional

Need to send cards to your client and vendor lists? Just because it’s business doesn’t mean you can’t add a personal touch. Your business associates will notice if you take the time to include a special note inside. Something like, “Wishing you happy holidays and a productive new year. All our best from your friends at [your company name],” then sign with your name. In a world of pre-printed cards, this effort will make you stand out. That’s good for the soul and for business!

Spice up the newsletter

If you’re the kind of sender who likes to write letters about family events from the past year, try to avoid a laundry list starting in January. Focus on a big family milestone, or a vacation, or a standout accomplishments. Your friends and family love you, but they’re going to appreciate one story to remember, rather than a long diary.

Or you could always go with the classic and have the dog write it.

The more the merrier

Don’t be stingy with your cards! It may seem like a lot of effort, but a few personal words really go a long way. Make your extended family cards show how much you appreciate them. “Our family is so blessed/lucky/delighted to have you in it. Hope your Christmas is as lovely as you!” Reaching across the country with a personal note expressing your love will warm their hearts and may even prompt an overdue phone call. ‘Tis the season for telling people how much they mean to you, especially if you haven’t been able to stay in close touch.

Make them laugh

When other inspiration fails, show your funny side and send your greetings with a cheeky grin. Find hilarious quotes from classic Christmas movies, or put your own funny bone to work. Aunt Bethany will get a kick out of it. When things get hectic at holiday time, you might be providing the perfect comic relief to lighten the mood.