Holiday Newsletters

By Ginny Frizzi

September 3, 2010 5 min read

Love 'em or hate 'em, family newsletters remain a staple of the holiday season. And believe it or not, there are ways of producing interesting newsletters that other people will actually want to read. "Brevity and nixing the urge to brag are important keys to making your newsletter convey the spirit of sharing that you intend," says Sandra Lamb, the author of "How to Write It," "Personal Notes" and "Write the Right Words." Lamb recommends that newsletters be limited to one page with photos and captions around the border or on the back. "Hitting the highlights of your family's year and even including a touch of self-deprecating humor will increase the enjoyment factor for your readers; as will featuring some fun photos that family members have OK'd for inclusion," she says. Lamb recognizes that there may be negative or sad news that should be shared in the family newsletter. "Include very briefly your bad health news or economic news, but give it as light a focus as possible: 'We're so thrilled to report that Jim's cancer is in remission' or 'It's been a penny-watching year, and we've learned at least 50 new and delicious soup recipes; see our potato/bacon favorite on the back,'" she says. Artist and environmental designer Pablo Solomon has a different take on including negative news in holiday newsletters. "When I was a kid, my barber gave me this great advice: 'Never tell others your problems. Half the people don't care, and the other half think you are just getting what you deserve,'" he says. "My advice would be to keep your family newsletter to Twitter size (140 characters) or shorter." Blended families should alter newsletter content for each specific audience segment, Lamb advises. "No one is that interested in hearing about people they don't know," she says. Newsletters can be personalized with the inclusion of a handwritten personal message to each recipient. "This fosters communication and re-emphasizes your connection with the recipient," Lamb says. It was a tragic event that led to Tina DiMartino Godinger's producing her now-annual holiday newsletter. "I moved to New York City at the end of August 2001, just days before the 9/11 attacks," Godinger says. "I began my holiday letter tradition that year as a way of letting people know how I was adjusting. I had also made a commitment to stay more connected to my friends and family. "Initially, my letters were way too long. I have edited them to be no more than two pages and make sure that I have my husband edit it, as well, to cut it down even more. "I try to write events that happened in the year in chronological order to keep me focused and help with editing. I report updates on my elderly parents, and now that I have a family of my own, I stay focused on my husband and my children." Some people are opting to produce their newsletters electronically rather than in the traditional print and mail format in order to save printing and mailing costs. "The key is to know whether your audience wants to receive it by e-mail. If so, keep it extremely short, because it may be deleted or not read," Lamb says. Still, some people never will enjoy holiday newsletters, no matter how short or well-written the letters are. Lamb advises people to send family newsletters only to those people they know are interested. "The only feedback I have received is positive, but I recognize that those who hate it probably would not tell me," Godinger says. "I have started at least one letter giving people permission not to read the note, because I understand that some people find it annoying." And what about holiday newsletters that arrive after the holidays? It's a strategy worth considering, given the pressures the holidays bring to most people, according to Lamb. "Often people get in the mindset of holidays as a burden because there is so much they are obligated to do. Instead, they should think of the holidays as a season and look at the newsletter as a way to connect with the special people in their lives," she says. "It is a season, not a deadline."COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM

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