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.

  • Charles Apple

    A longtime news artist and designer, Apple is the former graphics director of the Virginian-Pilot and the Des Moines Register. He teaches design and graphics workshops, does some consulting work and blogs for the American Copy Editors Society.


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