Sunday, July 17, 2011

Christmas (Newsletter) in July

Christmas in July? You bet!

Here in the Sunny South, I enjoyed a day in July (the15th, to be exact) when the temperature OUTSIDE never made it out of the 60s! What a delightfully chilly departure from those high 90s where just taking a breath was enough to make one break into a sweat! The next day started out chilly as well before the mercury inched its way up to 79. It was like a memory of early spring and an advance taste of late fall, all rolled into one day! As I shivered and slid into a jacket, I thought, “It’s a perfect Christmas in July day!”

Now we’re back to the normal sweltering days of summer, but at least we can escape indoors and set our minds on Christmas! Turn on the A/C, sip something cold and refreshing, and dig out a Christmas CD for the appropriate holiday mood. :) (Right now I’m listening to Santa Baby. It always makes me grin. Marilyn Monroe didn’t sing it, but it would have fit  her sultry style.)

A few weeks ago, a blog friend announced that she had begun working on her Christmas newsletter. Way to go, Linda! This is where I generally fall short. Like most who write them, I wait until the end of the year to put my newsletter together, and then I have trouble recalling the highlights of the year. Plus, I get busy and distracted, and before I know it, my cards are going out late because it took me a while to get my newsletter “wrapped up.”

Take a break from the heat and think about your own newsletter. What have been the highlights and low points of the first half of the year? Devote one to three sentences to each idea. If you are one of those who like themes, brainstorm for something fresh for this year. Store your notes for later. When you are ready to finish your letter and make copies, you'll be glad that you got half the job done early this time.

TIP #1: Restrain from typing joyously in all caps and using multiple exclamation points, especially when bragging about the talented so-and-so’s who are your children. A simple “So-and-so continues to earn high marks in school” gets the same message across as “WE ARE SO PROUD OF OUR LITTLE ANGEL’S STRAIGHT A’s AND ALL THE TALENT THAT DRIPS FROM EACH FINGER AND TOE!!!! WE’RE SO VERY BLESSED!!!! GOD OBVIOUSLY LOVES US MORE THAN YOU AND YOUR LITTLE DISASTERS!!!!” without taking up as much space or being quite so obnoxious.

TIP #2: Don’t shy away from being real. We all have our struggles. Honesty goes a long way in strengthening bonds. Briefly share a disappointment, knowing that your recipients will likely be able to relate.

TIP #3: Include a few photos. Make sure that YOU are in at least one photo. You say you feel self-conscious about how you have aged? Well, make it a small picture! Anything is better than photos of just the kids or the pets. We can assume that the recipients of your newsletter are people who love you and see your inner beauty shining through. You may not see it, but we do. I promise!

ALTERNATIVE IDEA:  You say you aren’t a writer? Holiday newsletters make you shudder? Okay, fine. Don’t start a newsletter. But you aren’t off the hook this month. Instead, you can focus on a photo to include in your Christmas cards, or maybe a photo that you will use AS a Christmas card! Consider dressing up in Christmas hats or sweatshirts or just Christmas colors. Consider creating a backdrop by hanging a solid piece of fabric up or digging out the garland and quickly decorating something with it. If you have a Christmas tablecloth, it might make an interesting backdrop. It won’t take a lot of time to make the effort. Honest! Get a friend or a timer to snap a family shot for you so that you will be in the picture. Put on a Christmas CD. You'll be doing more than creating a holiday photo; you’ll be making a memory. :)