City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Sending Christmas Cheer

Making Your Family’s Holiday Story Stand Out

Article by Sophie Winterle & Kathy Winterle

Photography by Sophie Winterle & Kathy Winterle

Originally published in Boerne Lifestyle

There’s something extra special about checking the mailbox around Christmas time, and it isn’t just keeping an eye out for deliveries. Mixed in with the ads and the bills are beautifully designed holiday cards displaying cheerful faces and well wishes. The tradition of mailing Christmas cards started nearly 200 years ago and has become so modernized that it takes about 10 minutes to throw one together on websites. However, the timeless tradition of Christmas newsletters started in 1950 and endures even in the age of social media. Don’t confuse these letters with the charming notes children write to Santa asking for toys and candy. Instead, these letters serve as a mass announcement of sorts that recaps the most mundane experiences and the biggest of accomplishments of the year. They’re fun, boastful, informative, and full of personality. Think of it as a year-in-review sent to everyone in your address book. But how can you make your family’s letter stand out? We’ve got you covered. 

The Essence
A Christmas letter should feel like a catch-up phone call on paper. Think of it like leaving a voicemail to someone you haven’t spoken to all year and you want to fill them in on everything all at once. This is your time to brag, rant, celebrate, and lay it all out. There are no rules, and no one will be grading you on proper grammar or sentence complexity or the stories you share. They can be as formal and complex or as simple as you like. This is the time to share things that aren’t included in a Facebook post. How did it feel when your last child left for college? Was it scary finding a new job after being in the same position for so long? Have you been making the same recipe for a month because you just can’t get enough? Anything is fair game when it comes to the Christmas newsletter.

The Content
There are lots of creative ways to tell your story and this is a fun opportunity for your family to gather together and decide what you want to share. More than likely, not everyone has had a perfect year and this can also be an opportunity to share unpleasant news mixed in with the happier times. A great place to start is with everyone’s favorite memories, then move on to accomplishments, new hobbies, etc. Some key moments will be easy to recall, like the birth of a child or a college acceptance letter, but the simpler pleasures are where the real magic is. One idea would be to include a few quotes from you and your family that add an intimate touch to the letter, especially if you have kids who say the darndest things or an elder with some wicked one-liners or sage advice. These letters are like a glimpse behind the curtain of your lives which makes them a joy to read and rewarding to write.

The Format
Even though this is a holiday “letter,” that doesn’t mean it has to follow standard formatting rules. Tell your story in a way that’s fun and reflects who you and your family are. There are so many ways to personalize it and creative liberties you can take. A popular idea is to make it look like a newspaper with headlines and snippets of text. You could also do it in a scrapbook page format with photos and subheadings that will set it apart from a typical letter. A play on this idea would be adding news clips, certificates, awards, concert tickets, or whatever to really showcase your family's exciting events and accomplishments. With all that in mind, be sure to leave space to talk about your future plans and ambitions. When next Christmas rolls around, the letters from past years can serve as time capsules and make for fun chatter around the tree.

The Finishing Touches
The stories you share are the main focus, but that doesn’t mean the paper it's printed on can’t tell a story of its own. Some design choices you can make are with the fonts and borders of the paper. Letting the kids doodle some festive designs on the borders of the paper after it has been printed can be a crafting activity to get them involved. These special touches will personalize your letter in every sense.

Storytelling is an art that we are all capable of and what better way to express it than by sharing your life with others?