Monday, November 26, 2012

Do You Need to Write a Christmas Family Newsletter? Ten Things to Include


Ah, the family Christmas newsletter. That one page that encapsulates your family’s entire year and sends Christmas greetings in joyful yet sentimental prose.

Is anyone else as intimidated by that challenge as I am?
I’ve puzzled over this conundrum for many years, and I think I’ve finally figured out why this writing task makes me so uncomfortable despite my love of writing.

First, the family Christmas newsletter is all about us. It feels braggadocios. I know a lot of this blog is about me, but I try to write about me in such a way that is helpful or encouraging. Plus, I try to make this blog a conversation, asking questions and responding to every comment. A Christmas newsletter is not a conversation. It’s just our ego-centric soliloquy.

Second, how do you summarize an entire year into one page?

However, I continue to write a newsletter every year for three reasons. First, our family likes to receive them so it seems only appropriate that we reciprocate. Second, we have heard from recipients of our family letters how much they are appreciated. Third, we keep a copy in a binder, and it provides a unique Christmas memento for our children.

The trickiest part in writing the newsletter is finding that fine line between arrogance (“see how incredible and amazing we are?”) and boring (“still at the same job”).

Writing can, in many instances, be boiled down to a formula. Here’s what I’ve figured out to include. 

  1. The date. At the very least, the year. I save a copy of our newsletters in a binder, and when I read through them and cry in another ten years at how time has passed, I want to know at a glance just how long it has been.
  2. Greetings. “Merry Christmas to family and friends!” or “Happy Holidays to you!”
  3. An introductory paragraph. It can be just one sentence, but it should be something that eases them into the news. You don’t want to hit them over the head right up front with how your husband had thirteen gallstones removed in August. J
  4. Your children’s names. Yes, people forget.
  5. Your children’s ages and/or grades. It changes every year, and those with whom you don’t have regular contact will appreciate the reminder.
  6. At least one fact or update about each child. It could be their favorite subject in school or their newly decorated room or an award they won. Use your discretion in sharing bad news. When I had a miscarriage at eight weeks in 2000, I did not share it. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but it just didn’t seem appropriate to burden people like my husband’s former boss with that news. If I had been further along and we had shared the news of the pregnancy with more people, I would have included it.
  7. Your husband’s employment situation. This one can be difficult, depending on your circumstances. If you husband is unemployed, it’s up to you what to say and how to say it. You might want to make it as positive as possible, or you might want to ask for prayer. If your husband is continuing in the same position he had the last year, is there anything different or new in his responsibilities? My husband’s job is the same, but this year I think I’ll be highlighting how grateful we are for a solid job in this down economy.
  8. Your own activities. Are you employed? Blogging? Charity work? Special hobbies? Alternatively, you could include a family highlight. Did you get a new pet? Take a super-duper vacation? Start taking classes together?
  9. A verse. A family newsletter is a terrific opportunity to slip in some witnessing. Most people are receptive to baby Jesus this time of year. What about Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:11, or even John 3:16?
  10. A sign-off. Don’t be like those people who just hang up and don’t say good-bye when they end a telephone conversation. “With love and prayers, The Smith Family.” “Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year! Jim, Susan, Billy, Bobby, and Bonnie.” You get the idea.


Sound easy? Add your personal flair, and print it on pretty Christmas paper.



So make a mug of hot chocolate and fire up the laptop or sharpen your pencil. I’d love to know how your newsletter turns out!

Merry Christmas!







What do you include in your family newsletter? Any other suggestions? Do you enjoy writing it or is it a chore?




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40 comments:

  1. Hi Meghan, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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    1. So happy to have you here, Chris. Love the name of your blog!

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  2. Hoi Meghan, may I ask you ... do you sent such a family newsletter to friends and family or is it only a letter for your kids and husband?

    This is unknown here but I like it. here we only sent Christmascards in December. Tell me about it, please. I think I will make it too. It a sweet idea. ( I love write and I love new ideas).

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    1. I send the newsletter to friends we don't see on a regular basis throughout the year because they live too far away and some family for the same reason. I do usually give a copy to my mom just because she's interested. :) When we were first married, I sent a half-page in a Christmas card. Now, though, everyone wants to SEE the children as well. So I tuck the newsletter in with a photo card -- no formal Christmas card any longer. I miss the cards because the pictures are usually so pretty, but I understand the desire for something personal. Have fun writing yours, and I'd love to see a copy when you're done if you're willing to share.

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    2. Good idea! Yes I will share it with you.

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  3. Thanks, Meghan. I am pinning this post for my own Christmas newsletter. Thanks again!

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    1. Thanks, Keri, but with your graduate education in English, I doubt you need my tips!

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  4. I really love this! We might do that this year - people would be really surprised getting a letter from the other side of the pond. :)

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    1. I love how Europeans call the Atlantic Ocean (!) a pond! And a newsletter would probably be a wonderful surprise, especially if it was written in Croatian. :) Can't you just see your loved ones thrilled to receive an envelope with your return address and the airmail stamp and then they can't read a thing? (Okay, don't do that really. Just feeling a little ornery tonight, I guess!) Reminds me of the family Bible I inherited that is all in Finnish. I inherited an English-Finnish dictionary, too!

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  5. This is one of my goals for the week: create our family newsletter. Thanks for the tips. I'd love to have you link this us to Titus 2 Tuesday this week on Cornerstone Confessions.. I hope to see you there.

    Kathy

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    1. Thanks so much for the invitation, Kathy. I'll be there, and I'll add your button to my posts.

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  6. We get a Christmas letter written by my 86 year 'young' uncle each year. He puts us all to shame, sharing his & my Aunt Virginia's recent galavants here & there ;) They are always traveling & he is big into riding his bike ...long bike rides. Talk about motivation!! LOL ... We look forward to reading his letter each year & treasure it, knowing that someday, it won't come in the mail.

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    1. What a treat every year, Angela, and it's wonderful that you know to treasure it while you have it. So glad you shared this!

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  7. You know, I've always thought about doing one of these, but I never have! And I love getting letters from others...maybe it's time to start one! :D

    Mindy @ New Equus
    http://newequus.com

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    1. You should give it a try, Mindy. You might really enjoy it, and it could be a terrific blessing to others!

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  8. I love this post! I've always wondered how to write a yearly family letter.
    Thank you!

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful. I'd love to know how it turns out, Christina, and I'm so glad you visited.

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  9. Christmas newsletter is sitting on my to do list - practically shouting at me every time I look at it. Thanks for this post - it might be just the push I need to get it started on it.

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    1. I always need a push too, so I thought I'd write this post. :) Still haven't written it....

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  10. Thanks for sharing these helpful hints, Meghan. The "family letter" can be a bit intimidating at times! I opt for a simple photo card these days, but I do write a letter to each of my sons for Christmas. It kind of records the years events to them and I share a bit about what I like and appreciate about them too. I keep them in a specific binder for each son and have been doing it for at least 10 years now. Although, I'm not sure they completely appreciate it yet, I'm hoping it will be a great heirloom to them someday.

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    1. What a wonderful tradition, Beth! I'm sure they will be valued someday, including by future wives and children. Thank you for sharing that idea!

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  11. thanks for the helpful tips...your new follow...Nicole

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    1. Glad you found it helpful, Nicole, and happy to have you here!

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  12. Thank you for these great tips! I haven't written a Christmas newsletter in several years and had planned to do one this year, so this is perfect. Pinning!

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    1. Glad it was helpful. Have fun writing, Pam!

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  13. Excellent tips. For the first time in 28 years we aren't sending our traditional picture card and newsletter. My youngest is 20 and with my husband in the middle of a drs. program it seemed like a good "end." I may pick up the newsletter again because it was important to extended family. Despite the rap newsletters get, I cherish each one I receive. I have all the newsletters my father-in-law wrote--including the one that announced my marriage. Such treasures.

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    1. Sounds like you have a sheaf of heirlooms, Pamela. Have you thought of having them bound in some way? What a treasure!

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  14. I just love your blog!! I wish I had more time to spend here tonight, so I'll just have to come back!!

    Thanks for the reminder!! I NEED to do our Christmas letter and these 10 tips are timely. Thanks for sharing and linking up with me over at WholeHearted Home Wednesdays.

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    1. Thanks for stopping in, Judith, and thank you for the link-up opportunity.

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  15. Hi Meghan,
    Thank you so much! I have been thinking about sending out a family newsletter this year. Your format will be so helpful to me.
    God bless you! :)

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    1. I'm glad it was helpful, Teresa. Have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

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  16. Meghan,
    I would like to feature this wonderful, helpful post tomorrow on the 'EOA' Wednesday link-up! Thank you for sharing over at Deep Roots At Home!

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  17. I was hoping you would link this one up! Thanks for stopping by and linking up with me. I hope you have a great weekend!!

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    1. I love your link-up, Rosilind, and look forward to it each week!

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  18. I always want to send out a newsletter but since it is just my husband and I, and we don't do anything exciting, I'm not sure that people would want to read it... might try it this year since we bought a house. That is if I can get the printer working lol

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    1. Rachel, for our first several Christmases before children, my husband and I just send a half-sheet with two paragraphs. It's so funny to go back and read those now! Even if no one else is interested, you'll have a record for yourself and your some-day children.

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  19. it is not wrong that `news letter, but not for everyone

    I received a newsletter from my sister for Christmas and New Year,
    and frankly, I did not like it much, it felt like a rebuke that we do not know much about each other's lives,

    With Christmas and New Year send you a greeting or wishes to the another and not send an update about your own family and situation

    the recipient did not ask for an update

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    1. You have a good point, Josje. In a difficult relationship, perhaps a newsletter ought not be sent. I think of it as a recap for those we do know and an update for those we don't see and aren't really a part of our lives but are still interested. I'll pray for your relationship with your sister.

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    2. That is the annoying of different languages​​,
      My sister and I think I have a good relationship together, which is why I found it weird that `s letter to get. I know the age of the children what they do etc
      you know
      that letter is nice, but not in connection with sending a Christmas and New Year wishes I think

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