Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Newsletters

I'm thinking of writing my annual holiday newsletter. This has nothing to do with money and everything to do with keeping in touch with family and friends. Over the years, I've heard mixed reactions to these newsletters. Some people love to get them. It's a way to learn what's been happening in the lives of people we care about, yet hardly ever hear from. Some people are less than eager to get them and either toss without reading or if they have a festive look, hang them with the holiday cards.

I have to admit I love to hang holiday cards around our double patio door frame. There's something decidedly festive about the greens, reds, and glitter that adorn the cards. I also have to admit I hardly ever send cards myself. They're generally expensive, unless you find some at a Dollar Store. They get tossed after the holidays. They're impersonal. Still I like them. When it comes to my own holiday wishes for friends, however, I go for the newsletter.

Some years, I've printed the letters on festive paper, folded, sealed with an address label, and mailed. Other years, as more and more people get email, I've opted for an emailed letter with a family photo embedded in the post. Oftentimes, it's a combination of snail mail and email, depending upon the age of the recipient. Many of our older generation family members haven't a clue how to turn on a computer.

I'd like to think my newsletters are well received. I know I don't have the ability to weave a tale like one of our good friends does in his annual letter, which never fails to bring a smile to my face. Still, I hope I don't totally bore my readers. Here's a few tricks I've learned over the years:
  1. Keep the letter to one side of the paper.
  2. Include a recent family photo.
  3. Don't brag too much.
  4. Use correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
  5. Keep the tone lively.
  6. Be generic, unless you know all your readers have the same religious beliefs.
  7. Be sure to cover highlights of the year.
December is a great time to connect with your family. Hearing from you once a year is better than never hearing from you at all.


  1. Penny, I'm following a link to your blog from Twitter. Nice blog. I used to send holiday letters out all the time. Sometimes I'd even mention newly published books in them. Why not? They are a big part of my life! You've inspired me!
    Thank you.
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers
    Blogging at

  2. Penny, I love receiving holiday newsletters but I'm lousy at writing them. One year when I was thinking about writing one, I ended up instead writing a poem, "Names Changed to Protect the Innocent." I was on my way to band practice and stopped in the parking lot and wrote the poem. I thought there was something familiar about it but didn't twig to what it was until the end!

    It's in the "poetry" section on my blog: