How to write your personal Christmas newsletter

HTWB Xmas 2014 02Many people choose the Holiday Season to write a newsletter to enclose with their Christmas cards, or send via email, to all their far flung friends and relatives all over the world so as to keep them up to date with what has been going on in their lives over the previous year.

Great idea! So where’s the “but…?”

Think back for a moment and remember the last Christmas round-robin newsletter you received from a distant relative whom you haven’t seen since you were a kiddie.

Much as it was nice to hear from them, did you know any of the people mentioned in the newsletter? Did any of the names of people and places instantly ring a bell with you? Did you even know who the hell they  were, never mind who the mentionees were?

So what’s the solution for your Christmas newsletter?

Don’t for a moment think I am going to say, “don’t write a Christmas newsletter.” I’m not, because I think it’s a great idea. But what I am going to do is to highlight a few points you might like to think about, so your next Christmas newsletter (which I imagine will be going out soon if it’s the paper-based kind) really does keep your friends and family up to date in a meaningful way.

Do not assume everyone knows all your friends and family. Even if we have met a while back, people’s memories aren’t very good. So when you mention Douglas, just put a few words in brackets to identify him e.g. (our next door neighbor), (owns the local grocery store), (self-appointed village idiot), etc.

Include only key points of the year. Avoid mentioning when the goldfish died because much as you were fond of him, we never met him and some of us may not even care that he’s a goner. Sorry.

When mentioning places you went to / worked in / whatever, give us some idea of location in time and space. Describing your 6 weeks in Umptobongawellie is interesting to read, but even more interesting to read when we know it’s in central Africa near the Sudanese border, not a new brand of fancy pop/soda/fizzy drink invented by Coca-Cola.

Avoid dwelling on detail that we don’t really need to know. Much as you and your partner had an absolutely hysterical time at his boss’s daughter’s wedding, because we weren’t there we can’t actually share the hilarity. Please keep that brief, especially as it won’t seem that funny to us.

Must you stick just to text? Given that even in paper-based newsletters it’s now possible to include pictures, and online / email versions can even include video … think beyond the obvious. Use these now-simple media to help share your Christmas messages in a more meaningful way.

Sticking with that thought, what about Skype, FaceTime, and similar? You may be surprised to find out how many of your distant friends and relatives are on these platforms, so are able to meet up with you virtually – albeit via technology. These can transform your Christmas catch-ups with people who really matter.

And what about YouTube? Recording a video version of your Christmas newsletter is very easy, and when you upload it to YouTube (and share the link) your family and friends around the world can see it easily. Don’t worry if you can’t see yourself as a TV presenter … just compile some quick clips of yourselves and key activities during the year, upload them to YouTube and then share the link so your friends and family can see, rather than just read about, what you’ve been up to during the year.

What other tips do you have to help make these personal Christmas newsletters more vibrant?

Please share your advice!
photo credit: Fueneco via photopin cc