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Holiday newsletters get a bad rap sometimes (along with lawn ornaments and fruitcake), but they’re actually a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. That’s why we’ve reinvented the format so that it’s cute, tasteful, and personal. Check out our designs right here!
A winning design is Step 1 to creating a spectacular newsletter. Step 2 is writing scintillating copy. We’ve provided some examples below to get you going. Read on for some handy rules of thumb as you draft your masterpiece.
1) TheTop 10 List
A top ten list is a fun and brief way to sum up the high points of the year into funny one-liners – works perfectly with our Top 10 List Christmas Newsletter design. David Letterman is the obvious source of inspiration, of course! The more ridiculous, the merrier!
The Johnson Family Top 10 of 2010
10. Grandma’s handmade gifts confiscated at TSA for undisclosed reasons.
9. Jello mold miscreants jiggle ominously on the table.
8. Figgy Pudding Flambé engulfs son’s fiancée’s eyelash extensions.
7. Nutcraker Cast’s Explosive Norovirus Outbreak brings show to a macabre close.
6. Betty’s bell choir performance lasts two hours and fifty-six minutes.
5. No app exists for distinguishing naughty from nice on your list.
4. Christmas cactus found to have pleasant taste and laxative effect on dogs.
3. Hanukkah gelt, foil included, found to have the opposite effect on dogs.
2. Removing ribbon from cat’s rear should be done by a professional.
1. “Ho ho ho! ” Meaning misconstrued by hostile pedestrian wearing Santa Hat
2) The Tongue-in-Cheek
This format channels your favorite comedic writers (think David Sedaris or Dave Barry) to put a hilarious spin on the antics of the past year. This format works especially well if you have young children in your family, since there’s no end of the ridiculous things that kids say and do.
2010 was a year of great feats of derring-do the Smith family. Some of us found new jobs. Some of us doubled in height and weight. Some of us discovered the joys of bocce ball. One of us ate a sofa. The excitement was seemingly never-ending!
Well, where to begin? Rufus, the family dog, made the biggest dent this year by single-pawedly devouring our brand new sofa. Luckily, it we got it at Ikea and realized, after spending 12 hours assembling it, that it wasn’t going to last more than a year, anyway!
School & Work
Abigail, now three, started pre-school and her favorite game is “Housekeeper” which is necessarily preceded by making a big mess. She has also mastered the lyrics to Beyonce’s “Put a Ring On it”, along with a few of the requisite dance moves. Our little star certainly loves the limelight!
Carter is now 6 months old. His favorite hobbies include: drooling, rolling over, chuckling, sleeping, pooping, drooling, playing with Sophie the Giraffe, drooling, and being generally adorable. Did we mention that he loves to drool?
John decided to quit the rat race and start his own landscaping business. So far, it’s been a huge success, thanks in part to a successful advertising campaign in the local paper. Alice is thrilled at the disappearance of a certain spare tire, and the appearance of a lovely summer tan.
Alice is still calling the shots as an Executive Vice President at Hewlett Packard, where she works on strategy and generally plots global domination of the hardware market. In her spare time, she is working on knitting a slipcover for the new sofa.
Travel & Adventures
Led by the intrepid travel czar John, we ventured this year to exotic Kauai after realizing that the Trans-Siberian Railway is not the place for a pair of under-threes. The kids enjoyed boogie boarding and making (and trying to eat!) “sand”wiches, while mom and dad enjoyed the all-you-can-drink mai tais at the resort. The kids also went on their first helicopter ride, which was greeted with fear and confusion. They also saw sea turtles, clown fish (aka “Nemo”), and dolphins.
We also ventured to the far reaches of Iowa for the Smith Family Reunion, where we enjoyed catching up with relatives far and wide (John’s maternal grandmother passed away this year at the age of 94, after living a full and active life.)
As always, we look welcome visitors any time of the year and would love to see you!
Best wishes for a happy 2010 to you and yours!
Alice, John, Abigail, Carter, and Rufus
3) The Homespun
The idea behind this format is to just write a good-natured, heartfelt letter highlighting some favorite moments of the year. Imagine you’re writing to your closest friend/uncle/nephew (and try not to imagine you’re standing up in front of a room of the 100+ friends and co-workers who will actually be receiving your letter!). Recipients will love the honest simplicity of whatever you have to say.
Merry Christmas and Happy Winter Holidays from the Jones Family!
Well! It was a “superior” year here on the lake, with a pleasant summer and a mild winter (so far!). Since we didn’t get to travel to see as many of you as we would have liked to this year (I think only Santa is capable of such a miracle!), we thought we’d fill all of you in on some of the highlights.
This past spring Jacinta and John had a new baby boy, named Simon. He’s a cutie, and the spitting image of his dad. Ed and I drove out to visit and to help during the early weeks, which Ed dubbed “baby boot camp,” channeling his days in the Marines. Big sister Lila seems happy to have a brother, though their new boxer mutt, Parker, comes in a close second and sometimes nudges Simon out as top dog.
Christopher has been busy in the Peace Corps, and we’re all so grateful for how much we get to hear from him because the cell phone network there. He’s been helping an NGO teach the locals how to build and service drinking wells in Morocco near the Algerian border.
Anna will be graduating from UCLA with a BS in Marine Biology this spring. She spent the summer helping one of her professors with her research on corals off of the Yucatán, and enjoyed it a great deal. She’s hoping to pursue a career in this arena.
Ed and I have been working on the garden a lot this season, and we even hosted a garden tour during our neighborhood June Bug festival. Neighbors and friends dropped by, and tried my elder flower tea and famous strawberry shortcake. The best flowers, I think, were the tea roses, which flourished in the mild spring. Edward showed off his wisteria trellises; or maybe I should say the wisteria did a mighty fine job showing off the carved wood trellises he made last year. Beautiful! Makes me a little warmer, thinking of it in the chilly weather.
I hope all of you have a splendid and warm holiday,
Ramona and Edward Smith
4) The Jovial
This is the perfect format for all you merry pranksters out there. Major milestones? Forget ‘em! Just focus on anything that happened this year that was humorous, and milk it for all it’s worth! (Of course, if there are major events you want to announce, like a wedding engagement, feel free to work them in!)
Happy Winter Holidays, Comfort and Joy and Fa-la-la-la-la to all of you!
This winter marks another milestone for Audrey and me, as we’ve been engaged a year as of Thanksgiving, and are eagerly anticipating our wedding this June. Hope you liked the save the dates. Some of you may have witnessed the proposal, so I’ll keep the rest of you guessing by saying it involved the Macy’s Day parade and the giant turkey float! I know, sounds ridiculous, but you’d never guess! But you can see the pics on Facebook if you friend either of us (we promise to accept your request!).
It’s been a busy year for us go-getters. I started my second year getting my MBA at Cornell and Audrey is getting herself established as an OB nurse at Lourdes hospital. She loves it, and though it’s not just about hugging teeny babies all day, she does her share, and it’s very rewarding. She’s had some amazing experiences, but I know I couldn’t do them justice. We’ll just have to have you over for dinner sometime to trade stories.
My program is going very well, and I got an internship that doesn’t require much of a commute. Since I have a degree in computer engineering, I wanted that to be my focus for my MBA, so I’m working with a small business that shows a lot of promise writing code for new Bluetooth applications. Can’t tell you much more than that, or I’d have to have the lot of you taken out. Fa-la-la-la-la! But really. Top secret!
Both of us managed to get a little time off this summer to travel to do something we both always dreamed of—we went to South Africa, and not only did we visit some of Audrey’s 2nd cousins in Polokwane, as well as a lot of lions, but we got to see the Superbowl!
Ha ha, just wanted to see if you were paying attention! ‘Tis the season! The World Cup, of course. Caught the South Africa vs. Mexico, and the South Africa vs. Uruguay Games. I’ll spare you the details on Audrey’s recommendation. But it was a great time and so exciting to meet some of Audrey’s extended family.
I hope to see more of all of you this year, and we look forward to seeing many of you in June!
All our Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year.
Audrey and Peter
4) The Best Friend
The idea here is to keep a conversational, light-hearted tone, like you're catching up with an old friend. A dose of humor or light sarcasm is a plus!
Happy Decked Halls, Y’all!
Miss all you folks back home and elsewhere, and hope that you have just the right mix of sun and/or snow for the holiday. I have high, if unrealistic hopes.
Ben and I have had a good and busy year. We’re planning a big Thanksgiving bash for the locals, so you already know if you’re one of them. Ben says I’m crazy trying to pull this off with the toddler in tow, but I’m a firm believer in the power of community. And I’m expecting help from him. Again, I have high hopes.
I’ve been busy with little Stan; he spoke his first word two months ago while we were at the zoo. I would have wished for Lion, or Giraffe, or Elephant. But oddly his first uttered word was “water.” Or Wawa, I should say. Maybe he’s onto something— kid’s got some sense, living in the desert, he has his priorities straight. He’s a great little boy and very independent, and I feel like I can just leave him be and he’ll play on his own for almost an hour. I hope that’s normal! Ben’s mom said he was the same way as a tike. He sure didn’t get it from me!
Ben has been thankful to be very busy with his job, especially since I’ve taken some time off for Stan. But I know that he still lives for the weekends, when he does his skydiving tours. I think most of y’all knew he was a diver, but the guy who runs the little company wanted to hire another guide, so Ben jumped right in, so to speak. Gives me the heebie jeebies every time, but I’ve got to admire his guts. And I’ll admit it is a lot of fun. He took me tandem for my 30th and that was all I needed. Though it was a real blast, I think the anticipation would do me in if I did it again.
I’m thinking about going back to work—I know they’d take me back on at the school, but I feel like I need to take a little more time with Stan. And I have to admit, I really enjoy doing projects around the house. Hopefully Stan will be able to help out before I know it. Lord knows I’d love to have him help me install the hardwood flooring in the dining room. But I’ll have to wait ‘til his balance is good enough and tie little sandpaper blocks to his feet and turn him loose. Put those kids to work!
Well, I hope you all have a beautiful white Christmas for me, as I sure know we aren’t getting one! And Happy Hanukkah and Festivus to the rest of us.
Sarah, Ben and Stan
Here are some pointers for witty, pithy, wonderful seasonal newsletters:
Need more feathers for your thinking cap? We have brainstormed some snazzy subjects to start your synapses buzzing and stave off writer’s block this season.
Sample Holiday Newsletter Subjects
Grown kids & great escapes
Adorable new arrivals
Newlyweds or newly engaged
Harrowing or heavenly travels
Insatiable intellectual pursuits
Family fixer-upper follies
Annual and perennial New Year’s resolutions
Gardening adventures and gaffes
Fun Family Meet-ups
Kiddos greatest hits
Monumental or continental moves
Sports (in summary)
Funny, furry bundles
Funemployment or Fun Employment Follies!
Holidays and happy days are here again!
Hooks for Holiday Newsletters
One of the toughest parts of writing a holiday newsletter is figuring out how to hook your audience in a creative opening sentence. Here are some ideas for you to ponder, and perhaps use to frame the entire letter (we especially like the idea of a letter written from the point of view of last year’s fruitcake – any takers?).
Off to the annual ugly sweater party. No better time to take stock of the year’s mortifying and memorable moments, in advance of public puffy paint humiliation.
Looking backward while marching ever forward, we figure we’re bound to bump into more of you this year!
Hearing good things from inside the cupboard. I think I might be able to hang on here, unnoticed for another year. A couple of close shaves—the Mrs. reclaimed the cookie tin next to mine yesterday. But I think she’s finished baking for the year.
Or we should say plowing, perhaps. And shoveling. Horses and dog sleighs are tempting options for transport this year, maybe we should give a second thought to getting Emma a pony.
Whew! That was a whopper of a year! Glad that one’s in the bag, but here’s a recap of the highlights for all you sports fans.
We’ve been doing our thing, keeping it real, and got to thinking of the kin folk, so we thought we’d send a shout out to our homies.
Heavens to Murgatroyd, it’s the Holiday!
Hail’s Bales! Happy Holly Days!
And Some Witty Segues and Useful Phrases:
Fa-la-la-la-la is a great stand-in for yadda yadda. And a good expression of light-hearted exasperation.
Or use Fa-la-frickin’ la for emphasis, only if your audience is accustomed to a saltier tongue.
Wassail, wassail! All over the town! A nicely cryptic phrase from an old English song if you want to mystify your non-anglophile readers, and create a sense of urgency.
Janky-bells: slang to express a fondly underprepared bit of Christmas décor. Use only if you are familiar with the use of Janky as a descriptor.
Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy: Beatles fans, I bet you could work this in.