What to blog/vlog about at this time of year

One of my former copywriting colleagues was having a good old bitch earlier on Messenger about not having ideas for their next blog. I hit the roof.

illustration to article abut winter festivals

Autumn/fall and winter are a great time for festivals – and allied blogging.

“There’s so much to blog about at this time of the year, you could write one a day from now until New Year’s and not cover the same topic twice,” I rattled off on the keyboard chipping my newly-polished nails.

Use event dates not as blog topics, but as topic triggers

Let’s go back a few weeks (save those for next year) and check what there has been, as well as what’s to come before we pop the corks for New Year’s 2020. Here are just a few topics that can be triggered by associations with some of the world’s special days, and I know these ideas will trigger some more for you.

October (second Monday) Canadian Thanksgivingfunny article about legalisation of cannabis

Businesses: how do you handle urgent business with other countries who either have never heard of Canadian Thanksgiving or think it should be the fourth Thursday of November? How much time off should you give your staff? Retailers: how can you make the most of the long weekend? Plumbers, electricians, car mechanics – how to prepare for what may be a busy three days. Not a bad time of year for turkey farmers as well as pumpkin growers/retailers! Mind you with increasing numbers of people favouring a vegetarian or vegan diet, turkeys might be getting a well-earned break. (And don’t forget turkey gravy usually contains some gluten.) Canadian Thanksgiving tends not to be so vividly celebrated as its US cousin (see below) but there are still opportunities for interesting seasonal blogs, especially if you’re in the food/grocery or hospitality businesses.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: how to handle over-indulgence of the turkey and trimmings. Recipes. Dealing with family gatherings when things get a little tense. Keeping kids amused if the weather is bad. What you can do to help lonely neighbours. Mental health issues can be exacerbated on these holidays.
Charities and voluntary organisations: use this time and the build up to it to remind people to donate when they can. Ask for volunteers to help create special treats for the people you serve, e.g. children in care, people with disabilities, hospital patients, animals, etc.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: the spiritual and religious elements of a Thanksgiving, its origins, why the Canadian version is when it is, how seriously people take it or should take it, is it appropriate for non-Canadian cultures not to celebrate it, etc. And write or tell a short story about Canadian Thanksgiving.

October-November Diwali

The most popular of all South Asian festivals, originating in India, and interestingly is also a ‘thanksgiving’ celebration of the summer’s harvest and the triumph of good over evil. As it is a Festival of Lights there are no prizes for guessing that if you are in Business that’s in any way related to lights, candles, fireworks etc. this is a useful theme for a blog/vlog. Why do Hindus and other South Asians value lights so much? Why is light so important to us all? What would we do without artificial light? Other business notions can be created with a pun or two, as long as they’re tasteful … light up your life, bring (something important) to light, light your fire, bring brighter lights into your life, etc.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: as above, really, but the more spiritually inclined amongst you might want to see how the pageantry of Diwali creates focus and even mindfulness in many ways. Food bloggers and vloggers might look into the foods eaten and shared during the four or five days of Diwali, and what makes those foods special and/or relevant.
Charities and voluntary organisations: see above re: using some kind of (tasteful!) play on the word light, e.g. ‘please donate now to help bring more light into these people’s lives. You may also want to look into charitable activities similar to your own, which are practised in the countries where Diwali is most celebrated.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: how cultures in other parts of the world can share in the spirit of Diwali, how we can benefit from cross-cultural understanding. Why do Hindus and other South Asians value lights so much? Why is light so important to us all? And write or tell a short story about Diwali.

October 31st Halloween

Businesses: a perfect way to rustle up interest based on the fancy-dress parties and spooky decorations both at parties and outside people’s homes. Your bumper time of year if you grow/sell pumpkins! A good opportunity for a bit of PR in local online and offline media if your staff dress up and raise money for a local good cause. A good time of year for grocery and fresh produce retailers and manufacturers of sweets/candy – all can be explained in your blog posts and be enhanced by special Halloween offers. For small artisan businesses, there are opportunities to make special trinkets, cakes, sweets etc. and promote those through your blog and social media posts in local online groups.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: parenting and other family bloggers should remind people about safety issues including walking out for trick-or-treat sessions, care with potentially inflammable Halloween costumes, over-indulgence in sugar-based treats. Food bloggers might come up with some healthier alternatives to sweets/candy at parties, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
Charities and voluntary organisations: use the Halloween concept as the basis for a fund-raising party or other event. Especially good for children’s charities and support groups. Some hospitals will enjoy help in getting costumes and toys for Halloween into their children’s wards. Also true for some children’s hospices.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: the history behind Halloween and its relationship to All Saint’s Day, religious aspects, how the ghost stories began, whether it’s still seen as a religious event and how does that sit with its extreme commercialisation, etc. And write or tell a ghost story.

November 5th Guy Fawkes Night / Bonfire Night (UK)

This unfortunate evening (or many evenings as it goes on for about 10 days) results in more neighbour-to-neighbour arguments than it does pleasure and fun, but the Brits still love their fireworks and much as most small children hate the noise it goes self-righteously on while people on the ground squabble about it. (Did you know that fireworks actually do not have to be noisier than just the slightest little ‘puff’ as they take off?) For businesses selling display pyrotechnics, charcoal and barbecue food, Nov 5th is a good time because many schools and other institutions organise fireworks parties with an associated cook-out.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: once again there is a major safety issue here so anyone blogging about families, children and animals should (please!) warn of the dangers of fireworks and bonfires. Not surprisingly there have been some hideous and tragic accidents with Nov 5th. Fortunately today fewer and fewer events include actual bonfires which so easily can get out of control, and private fireworks and bonfires are actively discouraged as caution also can go up in smoke, especially if alcohol, weed, etc. are involved. Food bloggers can remind those who have forgotten the summer how to do barbecue food and especially food that can be cooked and eaten in near darkness.
Charities and voluntary organisations: once again, reminding their readers/viewers about safe handling of fireworks and also the need to warn owners of some farm animals and certainly domesticated horses and donkeys, to make sure they are safe and sheltered.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: here you might like to write or speak your take on the historical elements of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, and how what the UK is really celebrating is the fact that the plot to blow up Parliament in London was an unmitigated flop. And write a short story about the Gunpowder Plot. (NB as you may have guessed I am not fond of Bonfire Night – sorry, but as I have animals I spend most of it with three dogs sitting on my head, two twitchy cats and even twitchier horses nearby. Here’s a more upbeat description…)

November 11th Remembrance/Armistice/Veterans’ DayNovember 11th 2018

NB: in the UK and some other countries Remembrance Sunday services are held and usually form the main gesture of respect to the fallen, although normally Nov 11th is also observed but to a smaller extent. Most of these Sunday services are multi-denominational but in the UK at least, are led by a Christian minister – usually the Bishop of London. This falls on the second Sunday of November.
Businesses: this is not a time to use plays on words about war, wounding and death. However a respectful acknowledgement of this event allied to your brand is OK, especially if you can link it to your company in some way – either through a connection, founder, etc. who may have fought in war, or through an allegiance to a veteran’s organisation like the British Legion.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: as for businesses. Even an image of poppies on your blog for the week or so in the run-up to Remembrance Day shows your respect.
Charities and voluntary organisations: obviously this is a busy time of year for all charities and other organisations connected with the Military, but even unconnected organisations could volunteer to local veterans and even write and publish some of their stories, or perhaps video an interview with them for your vlog. Children could be invited to help do the interview and talk to the veterans about their experiences.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: your take on the whole issue of war and the way you believe your readers will want to discuss it. Comments on the involvement of the British Royal Family and other major figures in preserving the Remembrance ethos. Discuss with your readers/viewers the varying relationship elected politicians have with the concept of war. And write a war-related short story.

November (fourth Thursday) US Thanksgiving

Businesses: pretty much as for Canadian Thanksgiving except in the USA it is a longer break, meaning that many US business have a three-day week. It is also celebrated more widely in geographical terms, as this is often the main family get-together of the year. Businesses dealing with travel arrangements and accommodation will be busy weeks and months earlier putting together deals, and bloggers/vloggers can share a lot of useful information on how best to plan your travel and accommodation, when to do it, where to get the best prices, etc.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: once again, as for Canada, but this time with plenty of advice on travel and where to stay, how to stay over with relatives in reasonable comfort, etiquette on what to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner, how to cope with tension between family members who are not good friends… dealing with indigestion, hangovers, etc. Cooking for the new diets: Thanksgiving Dinner in vegetarian and vegan terms. Watching out for people with gluten and dairy sensitivities.
Charities and voluntary organisations: as for Canada. Help for members of the community who may be alone for Thanksgiving, organising Thanksgiving meals on a charity basis, visiting people at home, in seniors’ residences, hospitals and hospices. How it feels to be in one of these places, and/or alone, at the main family gathering of the year. Blogs or vlogs to encourage readers/viewers to be neighbourly and charitable.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: the history and cultural implications of the US Thanksgiving – perhaps some myth-busting and amusing stories from the past. Thoughts on whether the tradition will continue ad nauseam or eventually get suffocated by more digital, robotic thinking. And write a short story about US Thanksgiving.

November (fourth Friday) Black Friday followed by Cyber Monday

This concept is huge in the USA but as far as I can tell never got quite the same level of enthusiasm elsewhere. Today I’m told it’s still gung-ho in the USA, retailers and other mainly product-based businesses starting massive sales about a minute before midnight on Thanksgiving Day. (The Brits have a similar sales feeding frenzy with the Boxing Day sales.) Black Friday isn’t really an official holiday although in most states it’s pretty well established. Cyber Monday is a much more recent phenomenon. Whereas Black Friday goes back to the early 1950s as a bricks-and-mortar sales bonanza, Cyber Monday was first initiated in 2005 to cope with the burgeoning shopping being done online and must have wreaked havoc with business on the first day back to work: current online purchases for Cyber Monday are approaching USD $7billion. Lots of clicks and not much work done…
Businesses: obviously if you can offer Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that your customers will grab, good for you. Don’t forget, however, that most if not all of your competitors will be doing the same, so maybe your blogs should take a slightly different tack by creating a USP for your deals – like free delivery, three months’ guarantee, a free guide book, or anything else that adds value and preferably that your competitors will not offer too. For IT/tech companies, this is your chance to get creative with your blogs/vlogs about Cyber Monday: advice on what really makes a bargain, what scams to watch out for, what cut-price products are likely to become obsolete soon, top tips on the most widely-purchased products, etc.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: if your blog or vlog has anything to do with retail, product-based shopping – online or offline – this is your opportunity to share tips on how to get the best bargains, where to find them, how to shop, how to get in line without camping outside your favourite store all night, how to avoid the worst of the crowds, how to surf offers on Cyber Monday without overwhelm, etc. etc. There are loads of tips and advice you can share. If you are more care-based, you could offer tips on how to cope with fatigue while out shopping, how to camp out the night before if you really must, tips on staying warm and dry, tips on reducing the risk of back strain lifting heavy parcels into your trunk, money advice on the temptation to spend a lot online, how to pace yourself and your budget…it goes on and on.
Charities and voluntary organisations: perhaps posts about how your organisation can get discounts on equipment and other goods for your work, and also in the time leading up to Black Friday / Cyber Monday, posts asking for quick donations to enable your group to buy what you need at a very good price.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: ideas on whether this concept of highly concentrated sales promotion is really OK or is it teaching us and our children greed, selfishness and ignorance of pollution and other planet threats? Should sales promotion of such goods be allowed carte blanche to whack consumers over the head with temptation they can’t really afford? Or is this free-for-all a good thing as it allows as many consumers as possible to benefit from price-cutting competition?

December 5th/6th/19th St Nicholas Day

In western Christian countries on December 5th or 6th and in eastern Christian countries on December 19th St Nicholas Day is an important date on the calendar. This St Nicholas is a very, very close relation to Santa Claus and Father Christmas and his various other Christian iterations.
Businesses: if you are based in, or are exporting to countries that celebrate St Nicholas Day be aware it’s on this day that most Christmas gifts are given to children. Ergo, if you do toys and other children’s products listen up and post about any of your products that will be available in the countries concerned, in plenty of time. On a B2B basis and you’re exporting to these countries you’ll need to start blogging to them even earlier that you do for Christmas.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: not much to say here unless you have an audience in any of the countries that celebrate St Nicholas Day. This Wikipedia article tells you which countries they are. In this case you can blog about the differences between western perceptions of Santa and theirs, why this should be, why this should matter and how you can help bridge any gaps…
Charities and voluntary organisations: not much you can do if your market is purely in countries where St Nicholas Day isn’t celebrated, but if you have connections where it is, you may want to see if you can hook up with organisations like yours there. That can broaden the reach of what you’re doing and what they’re doing.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: it’s fascinating to see how these legends evolve over time and anyone whose readers enjoy historical blog posts and vlogs will find some useful inspiration here, especially if you’re in countries like the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA and others in which St Nicholas Day is almost unheard of.

December (varying dates) Hanukkah

As you know the Hanukkah celebration is another Festival of Lights, based on a similar premise to that of Diwali – the triumph of good against evil. The festival lasts for eight days and often coincides with the Christian Christmas. although because Hanukkah’s timing is based on a different calendar it can happen any time across November and December. This year (2019) Hanukkah is from December 22nd to December 30th.
Businesses: as this is a religious festival it is not the time for widescale sales promotion, although within Jewish communities a certain amount of commercial activity will be involved especially if your business is connected with food, gifts and other products relevant to the events.
Self-help and consumer bloggers: as Hanukkah is very much a time of family celebration there’s room for blogs about social occasions for all age groups, recipes and ideas for meals, how to play games like dreidel, the prayers and songs used for the lighting of the Menorah candles, etc. Whether you are Jewish or not the whole story of Hanukkah is of interest on a cultural basis and its history makes fascinating reading.
Charities and voluntary organisations: Jewish charities and voluntary organisations are likely to be helping to bring isolated people into their communities in the way of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: you might like to muse on the alleged connection among the various autumn/fall and winter festivals, on the similarities in the lessons they teach, and how those ancient lessons still apply – or should apply – today. If you write for children, share the story of Hanukkah – it’s magical.

December 24th, 25th, 26th Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day

A Christmas book tree…

We are never allowed to forget the Christmas bonanza, especially when some stores start putting up trees in September. Here I’ve tried to pick out some less usual ideas for blog posts, to add to the mainstream…yes, OK, in addition to your Boxing Day Sales!
Businesses: if your business is fairly small, instead of a Christmas blog or vlog, you could send out handwritten cards (Christmassy but with your branding) through the snailmail, signed by all staff members or the key staff members. These could go to your customers/clients, influencers, suppliers and other stakeholders. It may seem like an old-fashioned thing to do but that’s precisely why it’s a good idea: these days, handwritten snailmail gets noticed because it’s becoming as rare as hen’s teeth. In addition to the must-have blogs about upcoming sales, special offers, etc. you may like to offer your customers advice on things that will crop up after Christmas, e.g. pre-ordering supplies in plenty of time to ensure adequate stocks are in place after the break. With everything in blogs and other media focused on December 25th and 26th, writing or videoing about January and beyond will be a bit different and attract attention. “Get ready now so you can enjoy the start of the New Year…” 
Self-help and consumer bloggers: as for businesses, really. Most of you will be concerned with the here and now in whatever you do, but try looking beyond January 1st … Christmas leftovers you can freeze and recipes for them later in the winter … stress of Christmas, how to deal with it, how to focus in the fact that it is only temporary … quick workouts you can do while cooking for the family or cleaning the house afterwards … activities for the family between Christmas and New Year’s, which is often a slightly ‘draggy’ time … and so-on.

Christmas greetings from How To Write Better with Suzan St Maur

Charities and voluntary organisations: once again, think beyond Christmas Day, because many people who will have been helped by your group on the day will suffer from a largish anticlimax by Boxing Day when they return home and to normal. Try if you can to follow this up with them. Animal charities might want to issue some key information about new puppies and kittens. Children’s charities might want to announce and plan little New Year’s celebrations, maybe fancy dress with prizes for the best costumes, so they have something to look forward to beyond the Santa visit on the 25th.
Authors, thought leaders and similar: do people really suffer from a ‘Christmas hangover?’ Does that make them more likely to sign up to ambitious New Year’s resolutions? What are your thoughts on the number of relationships/marriages that break up over the Christmas period? (January is divorce lawyers’ busiest time of the year.) Are those breaks really final, or can the relationships be made to work again? And authors, please write some cheering short stories or essays for the New Year!

Wow: 3,700 words and I’m still typing!

Punchline: (and it’s going to be short, promise) all of the above is written to help trigger new ideas of your own. Hope you find it useful. Sz
how to write brilliant business blogs
PS: if you want some serious help with your blogging for business, self-help services, charity/voluntary organisations – or if you’re an author, thought leader or a blogger pure and simple, you may find this book of mine very helpful. On all the Amazons. Click here
or on the book image itself for the UK, Amazon USA here.