notebook and coffee mug by the fireplace

Holiday Writing Prompts to Invigorate Your Poetry

‘Tis the season to… write! Grab your pens, pencils, laptops, typewriters, quills, or whatever it is you use to write, and get ready for four festive writing prompts that will be sure to get you in the holiday spirit!  


1. The 5 Item Challenge: Holiday Edition  

Take on this writing prompt if you are ready to challenge your skills both in speed and creativity.  


Prompt: Here’s how this one goes open your notebook and be ready to write. Next, you’re going to set a timer on your phone for five minutes. Write down numbers one through five at the top of your blank page, and as quickly as you can, write down the first five holiday-themed items that come to mind (e.g., mistletoe, stocking, Menorah, candles, and gingerbread). Once that is done, immediately start the timer and write as much as you can without stopping, making sure to incorporate all five items in your poem somehow! (Tricky, I know.) This exercise helps with writer’s block and allows you to write freely using concepts and themes that, despite seeming unrelated, may end up surprising you. Try this one as many times as you want, with or without the holiday theme! 


2. Traditions Memory Poem 

Traditions bring stories from the past into the present and on to the future, especially around the holidays.  


Prompt: Think back to a tradition that is meaningful to you (it can be big or small) and jot down as many details as you can remember. Where did this take place? Who was there? Was it inside or outside? Cold or hot? Dark or light? What does the memory smell like? Sound like? Make sure to consider all the sensory aspects of the memory. Next, use your notes to write a traditional memory poem without using personal pronouns so that the poem reads as inner thought (as memory would) rather than a narrative. By trying out this method, you will push yourself to find new and creative ways to navigate your lexicon. You may feel like you are leaving out important details, but ultimately you’ll be left with a piece that is more intimate and imagery-focused 


3. Winter Picture Prompt  

Using pictures as writing prompts is easy and fun no matter the time of year. 


Prompt: Reference this wintery photo (or one of your choosing) and create a poem from the inspiration you get! Where is the scene in the photo located? Is someone actively taking it? Is someone else just out of frame? Don’t hold back on any of the details; let your imagination run wild within the story you create about this singular picture.  


4. Holiday List Poem 

We all write lists, whether they are for grocery shopping or packing for a trip—but what about writing a list as a poem? 


Prompt: List poems can be very simple, or they can be very complicated. This unique poetry form has inspired poets of all ages since the start of the art form. Try writing a list poem about the holidays, whether it be about baking cookies or driving to your grandma’s house. You may consider using the title as an explanation for the list (as many list poems do), or you can leave the list more cryptic. You can use these examples to help you kick off your holiday list!