If you can string words together to create decent sentences and have access to a word processor, you can create a unique and priceless holiday gift. Done well, a Family Christmas Letter, will be treasured by those who receive it, keep them updated on your life and build a bridge between generations. Done wrong…well…let’s avoid that.
Content. Show, rather than tell your readers what your family has done this year. Use anecdotes and character sketches of family members. Less is more in this case. Snippets of events, interviews with the youngest family member, quotes from little kids or overheard backseat conversation or sideline commentary are excellent additions.
Length. Keep it around two pages, three at the very most. Simplicity and brevity are key. Your goal is to leave your readers wanting more, not giving up and tossing it half way through.
White Space. This is very important in a composing a Family Christmas Letter. The white space is the area on a page not covered by print or photos. White space gives the eyes a break and allows for the reader to follow your information easier.
Fonts. Control yourself. Two fonts in one letter is enough. You do not have to show all the different variations of the letter A in your Christmas Letter.
Punctuation. Punctuate, leave spaces, and punctuate some more. It may make perfect sense to you, the writer. But the reader needs to know where to pause, where to emphasize and when to take a breath.
Pictures. Increase the value of your letter by including photos of the family. Clip art is okay in extreme moderation. Use the candid shots and include every member of your family, if at all possible. A more formal family shot can also be included.
Write Simply. Use plain words and short sentences. Consider letting a child proofread the entire letter and make suggestions. If they cannot understand it, consider rearranging the paragraph. If they have questions on the meaning of a word, possibly change the word.
Etiquette. Remember the purpose of you Family Christmas Letter. It’s simply a way of keeping in touch with distant relatives and friends who may not know all the interesting things that happened over the year. It’s a chance to reacquaint readers with your family and convey a heartfelt wish for a joyous holiday season.
It is NOT:
A press release.
A fund raising letter
A sales pitch
Regardless of how tempting it is to include all the nitty gritty details of your recent promotion or sign up sponsors for your next charity walk or share your amazing new business opportunity….stop. This is not the time or place.
A Family Christmas Letter is simply an expanded Christmas Card. So, say Happy Holidays, share some fun family times and a photo or two. Make your recipients happy to receive your annual letter.
Finally, the most important part of a good Family Christmas Letter is to start early. Letters thrown together at the last possible moment, usually show it. Take the time to jot down notes, ask the members of your family what they want to share and compile it over a few weeks, not hours, for the best possible letter.
Doing it this way, takes the pressure off and makes creating a Family Christmas Letter as enjoyable to create and it is to receive.