For decades, families have sent out an annual Christmas newsletter, which is intended to keep relatives and friends up-to-date on what’s been happening over the last year. A more practical, green and potentially free alternative is creating a Christmas website.
Let Google host your Christmas newsletter
The first step in creating a website is deciding on a name. For your holiday newsletter, it should be something simple like “TheJohnsons.com” or “TheKliensOnline.com.” After setting on a name, you’ll need to contact a registrar like Register.com or GoDaddy.com and then purchase the rights to the “domain name” you want. If someone already owns that particular name, you can either change yours or make an offer for theirs.
Google does offer a free Blogger service, however, allowing your family to create a Christmas Blog about the family at no cost. The people on your newsletter distribution list would have to type in something “thekliensonline.blogspot.com” to reach your webpage.
Using pre-assembled layouts and templates
If you have a resident computer genius in the family, they probably can have the entire website up-and-running by the time it takes them to eat a couple of Hot Pockets. For those who are new to website creation, though, the website registrar typically offers templates and step-by-step instructions to get you started.
Templates have spaces to insert different things to customize your website or blog. Some festive things to use include:
Video clips: One nice benefit about a Christmas blog is that you can “embed” a video message on your webpage. To use video clips on your site, you have to “host” the video someplace like YouTube. If you don’t already have use this service, sign up for a free account and then upload your videos. YouTube will then let you embed a link on your Christmas website that points to your video clips.
Newsletter: If you are building a Christmas blog, you can make regular entries, sort of like an online family diary. Each entry can feature text and embedded video, such as footage from Christmas Pageant. For websites, you can upload an entire newsletter in document form, allowing friends to download it at their convenience.
Pictures: The digital age has made uploading photos to an online Christmas newsletter a snap. Digital cameras come with a USB cable that lets you connect the device to the computer, or you can remove the Secure Data (SD) card and insert this into your laptop. Website templates contain options for transferring digital photos from your computer to the website.
Wallpaper: During the holiday season, take a favorite family photo and use this as the backdrop or wallpaper of the Christmas website. Choose a funny, memorable shot that will set the tone for the holidays.
Audio clips: This is the area where each family member gets to shine in the Christmas newsletter. If your computer comes equipped with a built in microphone, everybody can take turns recording a personalized greeting. Otherwise, you can invest in an inexpensive digital recorder that uses SD cards or is USB compatible.
Some website registrars will let you host your audio content on their site, but if you are building a blog, you will have to find a website that will host your clips. One good place is Internet Archive, a non-profit site that will let you archive your audio content. If you find their services useful, consider putting them on your charitable donation list.
Guestbook: Because you definitely want to know who has been visiting your Christmas website, make sure to embed a guestbook on the first page. Some registrars provide a pre-assembled guestbook you can use, or you go to Bravenet.com to create your own.
Keep the Christmas Spirit 365 days a year
Your website or blog doesn’t have to go idle after the Christmas ornaments are tucked back in their boxes. Make it a habit to update your site at least once a week with family happenings and photos.