A ho, ho, whole lot of clichés to avoid this holiday season

You Don’t Say
Today is Halloween, folks. You know what that means: It’ll soon be time to pull out those holiday story clichés, dust them off and — you know — regift them.

Lucky for us, master copy desk chief John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun has compiled a list of annual “holiday cautions,” because — as he says: “Chestnuts roasting by an open fire are fine, but they should be kept out of copy and headlines.”


“’Tis the season”: Not in copy, not in headlines, not at all. Never, never, never, never, never. You cannot make this fresh. Do not attempt it.

“Yes, Virginia” allusions: No.

“Grinch steals”: When someone vandalizes holiday decorations, steals a child’s toys from under the tree, or otherwise dampens holiday cheer, this construction may be almost irresistible. Resist it.

Along with the fun Scrooge-like snark are some things that most of us, sure enough, might not know…

If you must mention Kriss Kringle, remember the double s.


Hanukkah is a holiday more like Independence Day than Christmas, and it is only the coincidence of the calendar dates in a gentile culture that has caused the holiday to mimic Christian and secular elements. The holidays are coincidental; they are not twins.

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  • Anonymous

    Cliches are cliches because they are phrases that so successfully convey an image, thought, desire, opinion, etc. Over-using them is a no-no, but seasoning the seasonal copy with them seems fine.

  • Anonymous

    Newsday used to have a rule that you could never refer to snow as “the white stuff.” Good rule.