Tips For Crafting A Holiday Letter
Soon, the Halloween outdoor decorations will be safely tucked away in the attic and the holidays will be near. As we make our gift shopping lists, we also have to start thinking about a holiday letter to send out to friends and family. Sending out a yearly update of what your family has been up to is a tradition we love to continue, even if Facebook keeps everyone updated daily. Plus, it makes the updates a little more personal. Here are a few tips on crafting the perfect holiday letter.
Keep It Short
Limit your letter to one page. Remember how busy you are this time of year -- you don't have time to sit down and read 10 five-page letters about other families and their collection of vintage toys, and neither do your readers. Limit it to an opening paragraph, a few simple paragraphs for everything you want to share and a closing paragraph. If it helps, try listing everything you want to share before you get started and pare down the list to three or four highlights. If you keep it short, it's more likely to be read.
Start With A Tease
Holiday letters can be dull -- it's up to you to draw in your readers. You have to give your friends and family a reason to read your letter; a summary of your family's year is not it. Of course, Sally's mom thinks it's exciting that she made the soccer team, but Sally's aunt might yawn at the first line. Try hooking your readers with something they can relate to or an anecdote that's as funny to a stranger as it is to the family.
Keep It Positive
Struggles with health or employment are a bummer for anyone to read, but sometimes that seems like all there is to share. You want your readers to walk away feeling good about how you and your family are doing; it's hard to do that when you give them a laundry list of woes. Instead, think of ways your family has triumphed over hard times or the positive action you're taking to make your family comfortable.
Keep It Humble
Much the way it makes people uncomfortable to read about your problems, people don't want to hear you brag. When Dad gets that new promotion with a raise that allows you to build a new pool, people don't want to hear about it. Instead, tell a fun story about a unique experience you had on your summer vacation or a daring activity you tried. People enjoy stories rather than lists of accomplishments and acquisitions.
There's no reason you have to tell your story with words when pictures can do it just as well. Try to craft a collage of pictures from throughout the year or ones of your favorite activities and experiences. Add a few clever captions to note who is in what picture and what they were doing. Let your family and friends see how much your family has grown and accomplished rather than read about it -- they'll thank you.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Review all of your work. Make sure it's as tight as you want it and there are no grammatical or spelling errors. Making a few mistakes in a casual email isn't a big deal because emails are fleeting, but when you commit something to paper, you want it to be perfect.
When you're done with the letter, save it. File it in an album or make it part of your scrapbook. In a few years, it'll be fun to look back on the letters to see how your family has grown and changed from year to year.