When you think of Christmas, it's seeing and hearing from family that is part of the reason this time of year is so special. As much as we love all the other Holidays during the year, it's Christmas that pushes us to reconnect with friends and family.
Of course, touching base with everyone is becoming harder every year. I mean, who had 100's of Facebook friends 10 year ago? Now that third cousin you barely knew "likes" all the photos of your kids you post and it feels like you've known each other forever.
Christmas newsletters - whether paper or emailed - are a great way to let everyone know, whether they are nearby or far away, what has been going on with your family during the year. Put in all the little stories and important moments from the year - people want to hear about the small special things. You can spice up your letter with pictures, copies of papers or scans of drawings, depending on the age of your children, and other important or noteworthy things.
First, think of the look and design of your newsletter and your header. Consider being inspired by the scrapbook aisle at the hobby store. You might even make it to the checkout counter with an item or two as well. You can make a master page then use a color ink-jet copier/scanner/printer to make copies when you are finished with your page. (By the way, did I mention to try to keep your newsletter to a single page if at all possible? At most, a page of text then additional pages of photos.)
There are a number of options for physical paper and designs. If you haven't
used scrap booking materials for your page, you can use stationary
designed for the computer or you can use plain paper and simply use a
program like Print Shop to create a border and design.
If you have a mission statement or a family "saying" put it at the top of the page. There are a world of fonts to choose from. Use some creative flair for your heading.
Since your newsletter may end up in the hands of distant relatives be sure to list all your family members and ages at the top of your Christmas newsletter.
Next, develop the body of the newsletter using one of several possible approaches to writing this meaty portion. You could try a traditional newsletter style, which consists of two columns similar to a newspaper layout. Or consider a paragraph format.
Once you have chosen the style for your Christmas newsletter, make a list of all your stories and put them in order of importance and "shareability". After you decide which stories you want to share with everyone, organize them either by person or by date.
A great editing tip is to read your letter out loud to yourself or a friend. You'll catch grammatical errors and all those missing words that your brain fills in when you simply re-read what you've written.
If you have a family website, you can use your HTML editor or a word-processing software package to add your newsletter to your website. Word has a number of great templates.
If you are keeping your newsletter online, export your photos with a photo editor to reasonable dimensions and keep the file size of your photos small enough (under 50k is a good rule of thumb) to load quickly.
You might even consider shooting a family video and posting it on Youtube - you can set the video to private and send a link to it to all your contacts.
Whether you use a old-fashioned typewriter, stickers made for scrapbooks or put together a webpage, start working on your family Christmas newsletter early and have fun staying in touch with everyone this Holiday season.