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Ready or not, here comes Christmas!

Monday, June 21, 2010

#7 - June: Planning the Christmas Newsletter


How do you feel about Christmas newsletters? It probably depends on your experience of receiving and reading them. I enjoy them. I love it when my loved ones share their lives with me! I learned how to write my own by reading Uncle Jimmie and Aunt Susan’s newsletters. Their newsletters are nearly always just one page in length. Each includes a few photos. Each shares a few brief milestones and accomplishments of each member of the family. Each is organized in a newspaper format with a headline that hints at the theme. Each sticks to the theme. Each is fun to read!



Contrast that kind of newsletter with the one you hate to read: that’s the overly long one written in a hard-too-read font filled with exclamation-point-bragging about the writer’s perfect life and over-the-top beautiful, creative, talented, genius children. I really think it’s that kind of newsletter that makes so many people disparage Christmas newsletters.



To create a Christmas newsletter that folks can’t wait to receive, follow these pointers:

  • Keep track of your milestones. We can lead such busy lives that looking back is a blur! If you’ve marked a calendar or kept notes in a notebook, you can look back and be reminded of events that others would enjoy reading about.


  • Keep it short. Try your best to keep it to one page. It’s common knowledge in the business world that people look at multiple pages and set them aside to read later when they have more time. Sometimes, later never comes. It’s better to keep your readers’ attention with brief milestones and memorable events than lose them with long explanations of every activity and award that made up your year.


  • Keep it real. Your life isn’t perfect. Feel free to share the lows along with the highs. Additionally, you are the one writing the newsletter, not your pets, not your new baby, not some nameless reporter. The cutesy stuff has already been done. Keep things real by writing as yourself. And remember that most of your friends are more interested in you than in your kids. Make sure you don’t leave your own news out of the newsletter.


  • Make ’em laugh. Keep track of the funny quotes by your kids or even your significant other: write them in your daily planner or wall calendar, or on a 3 x 5 card that you save with your Christmas card supply. Then when you get ready to write your newsletter, you can go through the quotes and choose one or two to highlight. Looking back through my old newsletters, I found that I included two in my 2000 newsletter. 1) When my 8-year-old daughter was asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she answered, “A lady!” 2) After watching me butter the turkey and search inside for the giblets, my son asked, “What’s turkey made out of? Chicken?”


  • Avoid preaching. A Christmas newsletter should be casual and friendly, not self-righteous and preachy. Please understand that I'm not talking about sharing a few thoughts about the meaning of Christmas or a spiritual lesson you learned. That sort of thing is fine and expected. Just remember that the bulk of a newsletter should news about you and your family. That's what inquiring minds want to know!


  • Choose an interesting format. Many programs have newsletter templates that you can use, or you can be extra creative and design your own. (If you go with a simple letter format, please break it down into paragraphs. It's daunting to be faced with a Christmas letter that is an entire page long with no breaks!) Choose a font that won’t make readers reach for reading glasses. You may also use special, holiday-themed newsletter paper, or you may use plain white paper and dress it up with your color photos or graphics.


  • Consider your options. Maybe writing isn’t your thing. A picture is worth a thousand words! Instead of writing a newsletter, you might enjoy creating a collage of photos that tell the story of your year. A few captions, and your project will be complete. Your relatives will love it!


There’s a fringe benefit to writing yearly Christmas newsletters that you may not know about. Your newsletters will act much like a diary but in a more succinct fashion. I’ve saved a copy of almost all of mine since 1987! Re-reading them is like a walk down memory lane. If you have never written one before, I encourage you to give it a shot this year. When you can plan for it, you can make it happen!


My apologies for a late-month blog. If all goes as planned, I'll have the next blog posted on the first Sunday of the month. Coming in July: Ideas for emphasizing Christ during Christmastime