This year some people will leave holiday messages on their blogs. Others will create a holiday newsletter in the form of a YouTube video. But there will always be traditional diehards who insist on getting in touch with family and friends the old-fashioned way: a holiday newsletter filled with fun, interesting information about you and your family. How can you do this without making people gag or fall asleep? It’s very simple, really. You need to jazz it up, give folks something they can really sink their teeth into, and leave out all that boring (but true) stuff.
Length. Make your letter long—really long—as in several pages. And single-spaced so that Great-Grandma needs a magnifying glass to read it. You might want to make copies of your child’s artwork, reproduce your pets’ paw prints, or just draw pictures on napkins and include those. Scan in photos of your backyard, your new car, the bruise on your shin. Your relatives will get a kick out of the large and unwieldy packet of information you send, and it will be well worth the postage.
Decorate it. Use lots of clip art and borders. If it’s hard to choose from all the holiday clips, use them all. People love to look at pictures of trees and little Santa Clauses, and no, it won’t detract from your message. (Did you really think people would read it anyway?)
Keep it generic. If you personalize your letter, some relatives or friends may get jealous. You don’t want Uncle George to know that Uncle Felix dropped by last month, or a Hatfield/McCoy conflict is sure to develop. Be sure not to mention any other family members’ names throughout the letter or include news from outside your own household. Remember: impersonal equals safe. (If you’re not fond of a certain family member, you can also address their letter to <insert name here> but conveniently forget to insert a name. Very impersonal. Very insulting.)
Brag. This is your once-a-year permit to lay it all out there and say, I did great this year, and you should be jealous! Even if your year was less than stellar, you can still use creative license to make Aunt Tilly sigh and compare you to her own deadbeat son. Here are some ways to beef up your holiday bragfest.
If you got a 25-cent raise at Joe’s Drugstore, say, “This year I was pleased to be promoted in the pharmaceutical industry.”
A social worker visited your house last month: “We were blessed by a visit from an important government official last month
Little Suzie was arrested for shoplifting: “Our hardworking daughter even received a full police escort downtown!”
One more note: Write your letter as if you were a high school English teacher, and try to use as many big words as possible, even if you have to make some of them up. Your vocabulary will intimidate your relatives and make you feel good about yourself.
“This year it was good to be a Jones. As neighbors tried to emulate our personality traits and lifestyle, we formulated a plan to elevate our standards to an even higher level by utilizing our superior gene pool and intellectual motivation to create a nearly impossible plateau of greatness.”
People are gonna love it.
Very funny! You forgot to mention all of the fascinating details of your latest hernia operation and the following complications. That’s always good for a laugh or two; also no mention was made of the dearly departed with snapshots of funeral and/or the passing of the family pets indluding pictures and details.
I’ve been writing "succesful" Xmas letters for years. What’s more, I get many reactions from friends and relatives saying that they look forward to it. For me, the secret is making it like a spirited conversation, entertaining and challenging. If you can make people laugh, all the better.
Of course you do have to say things about your family, mainly because they’re among the chief receivers. But don’t make it a list of they did this; they did that. Try to share the fun times by spicing things up with amusing anecdotes, avoiding a police report of everything that happened.
In short, "talk" in writing as if you were entertaining guests in your living room, keeping things light and lively.
It’s a good idea, too, to make notes throughout the year. You can keep a journal with lively observations, something you can consult when it’s time to write that letter. And be ready to gussy it up with pictures.
What a hoot! I do get some Christmas letters of that caliber, but most are newsy and a joy to read– catching up with the past of those I don’t often see.