Season’s greetings

Posted On December 8, 2006

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Write the holiday newsletter your friends want to read

Cyndi’s annual holiday newsletter is smart and funny, and friends say they actually look forward to getting it. No matter that it may be printed on blue or purple paper rather than traditional red or green, or that it sometimes may arrive closer to Groundhog Day than Christmas. 

Yet even if writing isn’t your thing, there are ways to ensure that your annual holiday missive is greeted with grins rather than groans.

For starters, keep it light. Modesty and self-deprecating humor win out every time over a boastful, overly-detailed letter that’s reminiscent of a resume or public relations broadsheet.

The things people hate about those letters is that the writers take themselves extremely seriously. People get a lot of humorless letters about family achievements. It’s fun to be not quite so reverential about that stuff. It’s all about being entertained. People don’t want to be bored. Here’s a primer >

Be brief: Long doesn’t mean better. If you find yourself running on, picture eyes glazing over at a cocktail party when someone monopolizes the conversation. Strive for one typewritten page, double-spaced.

Be conversational: Writeas if you were sitting at the kitchen table chatting with a friend. If you want to write the Great American Novel, go ahead, just don’t use your holiday newsletter as the vehicle.

Hit the highlights: Skip the blow-by-blow accounts of your summer vacation. Pick some newsy high points and write about your feelings and experiences or what you learned. If you’re sharing an “aha!” moment, be sure it’s something that others will want to know.

Keep sad news short: If it’s been a difficult year with bad health or a death in the family, don’t dwell on it. Better to express appreciation for all the support you’ve received.

Make it easy on the eyes: Use a LARGE font, such as 10 or 12 point. Try for a catchy headline and captions if you’re including photos. Fun borders and wide margins help, too.

Have some fun: If a photo shows the giant star atop your house, try “STAR HITS LOCAL ROOF!” Be sure to run your humor past your family, and sort out the real groans from the obligatory ones.

Proofread your work: Make sure spelling and grammar are correct and that the letter is readable. Use computer spell-check or a friend with spelling and editing savvy. Let your final draft sit overnight, then take another look. It’s amazing how many times an overlooked spelling error “magically” appears the next day.

Rein yourself in: The subject is you and your family, so stick to that and avoid going off on a political or religious rant. But also let your readers know you’re thinking of THEM,  after all, that’s the reason for the newsletter in the first place.

Start early: Avoid writing, addressing and mailing in a mad, last-minute frenzy.

Get organized: Buy a rubber stamp or learn how to format return address labels online. Set up recipients’ addresses on a label document.

Streamline: Besides printing the actual labels, print a copy on paper. As cards and newsletters arrive at your house, update addresses on that sheet. After the season, use the cards you got to update your list, changing, adding or deleting names. Keep a copy of this year’s newsletter with the file. Next year, writing it will be a breeze.

Tap into online resources: Still stuck? Google “holiday newsletter” for tips on formats, content, creativity and even free templates.

Bonus tip: Well-intentioned procrastinators still wrestling with newsletters in January should use red paper. You can always send out a Valentine’s Day newsletter instead.

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One Response to “Season’s greetings”

  1. Melissanthi

    Are you for real? lol