}November is the perfect time to write or start a holiday letter. With bonus days off like Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving weekend, you’ll find the perfect block of time to start and finish this task in one sitting. Going through these steps will give you one less thing to think about as Christmas approaches, so you can enjoy the season and, if anything, not worry about staying up late to write those cards and letters.
- Write an outline to start, which makes is easier in the end. We all know we’ll have too much to do in December, so take the load off, plunk down at your keyboard, grab yourself a cup of your favorite bevy, and I’ll show you how to make it really easy.
- Follow these steps:
- Decide on a format. I like the “year in review recap” format because it’s short and sweet and really transports you back to those special memories, making the task more enjoyable instead of a drudgery.
- On your computer page, or tablet, write down all the months of the year.
- Grab your calendar. Flip through the months to find out those things that jump out at you. This is not the time to document every appointment or every ball game. Pick out the memorable ones, where you can share a one liner about what you did that made that event so special. “Met Steve Nash pre-Suns game at the season opener”, is a good start. Do a highlight of every month. It’s okay if you have lots of things for one month and not too many for another month — you’ll whittle it down. People love knowing highlights, not every… single… move. (What is that saying? I asked you for the time, not how to make the clock!)
- Flip through some photos that you took during the year, using this as another way to remember those special highlights. The pictures don’t have to correspond with the calendar – sometimes we write things down, sometimes we take pictures.
- Now is the fun part! Look at our outline, and create a few sentences or a blurb to highlight each item. Like the Steve Nash sample above, it doesn’t have to be a full sentence: “Celebrated Angela and Tom’s wedding on the east coast, reuniting with my sister for a sightseeing tour of Arlington and DC” – that says a lot – it says we went to a wedding, where they were wed, who we met up with and where we traveled. Avoid: We landed at the airport, picked up by Tom, spent four days with the family, and coordinated the flowers, oh and did we mention the car trouble that started when we….” It’s especially nice if you can highlight in terms that most of your “audience” (i.e., those friends and family who will receive your letter.) For instance if no one knows who Angela and Tom are, you might not want to include highlights of your time with them.
- Do that for all your events, under the categories of each month or the quarter or just bullet point certain parts of the year.
- Be sure to put a clever heading and a way for people to know your contact info. At the top maybe ‘Happy Holidays from the Millers” – and then at the bottom I write, Happy Holidays from (signatures go here). You can reach us at: address, emails and phone.
- Next is to figure out if you are going to do your letter on a full 8-1/2 x 11 page, or a half page, or a different page orientation. Remember this is the space you have to work with. Is it on decorative paper, make sure you look a the margins for where text will be placed on that page. Figure that you will use 11 or 12 point type. If it’s too small (just to get more on the page) you’ll lose your reader in the first line. The point is to make them want to read on, not to bore them or hurt their eyes!
- Put in that fancy paper, print a few demos and you’re done!
- Variations on the holiday letter:
- The Year According to Casey: (our dog) – have fun with a new voice.
- A Family Gazette – I did this one year with photos, and set it up “newspaper” style with 12 pictures that recapped our year. I then added captions under each on, in a funny way. People love being reading about themselves when you recap your favorite memories.
- Q&A or interview with Santa…
- The Millers Top Ten Reasons to Wish you Happy Holiday, or the Millers Top Ten List of Highlights of 2010
- A Year in Review: Do a few blurbs under each month.
- Holiday Message – use first letter to spark a sentence: On the left side of your page, write vertically: “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” or “’TIS THE SEASON” so that you have one letter per line. Then, using the H from Happy, start a sentence… “Had a great time at Angela and Tom’s July wedding in DC”; for the A: Arlington ended up being one of our favorite stops for our summer vacation. Do the rest with all the letters. So the greeting spelled DOWN, and the message is spelled across.
- Rhymes: A little harder to craft, but fun it you just let your thoughts flow. “Went to London to visit the queen – then saw “Wicked”, the funniest play we’ve seen!” type of thing.
- If you have a kid, the “Year According to Abbey” – especially fun if it’s a toddler, because so many cute stuff happens – you can have fun with this one. Keep it consistent so it takes on the voice of your child. And, be sure to put a little news about mom and dad at the end!
- Recipe for the holidays: Include a favorite recipe, or ask family and friends for recipes that you can compile later. Use the recipe as an outline for your letter: “Ingredients for a festive 2010 included …”