How to Write a Holiday Newsletter (That Won't Make Your Friends and Family Gag)
Ah, the holidays. Time for family visits, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, turkey and stuffing and that other holiday tradition -- receiving a glut of boring, boastful newsletters from distant friends, co-workers and long-lost family. Sure, it's cool that your third cousin once removed has been living on a coffee commune in the jungles of Colombia, but reading a Jack Kerouac-like stream of consciousness rant about Christmas consumerism doesn't exactly fill you with yuletide glee. If you want to get into the holiday newsletter writing business, make sure you follow the tips to keep your loved ones from replying "return to sender."
Include Fun Pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, and it may be worth even more in the case of a holiday newsletter. Why not include a photo of the new car that you're dying to show off? But if you're going to be a braggadocio, it's best to add a little humor to counter the perception of arrogance. Maybe include yourself in the photo, giving the car a hug or bowing down to it. The same goes for news about your big promotion or all the charity work you're doing. If you're trying to share accomplishments, let a humorous picture do it for you. Pose in your new corner office with a cigar in your mouth and your feet kicked up. Wear a t-shirt that says "Human of the Year" while you're volunteering at the local soup kitchen and have someone snap a photo. If your family and friends have a good sense of humor, they'll understand the subtle irony and appreciate it more than pages and pages of (yawn) verbose horn-blowing.
The details that may make cousin Chuckie howl might make Aunt Edna hurl, so know your audience, and keep in mind that less is more. Holiday newsletters are like resumes -- best if they're one page long, and definitely never more than two. Instead of trying to pack in every exciting or awful thing that happened to you over the previous 12 months, pick and choose the ones others might really find interesting. It's your life, so you may find it all very compelling and thrilling. Imagine yourself reading a newsletter from a co-worker, and sift out the details that you wouldn't personally find very interesting or relevant. And while boasting about achievements is a common newsletter inclusion, don't overdo it if you want your readers to get more than halfway through before the gag reflex kicks in. Feel good about your achievements, but resist the urge to share them all with your audience.
Make It Unique
In addition to avoiding the common traps listed above, do everything you can to make your newsletter a little different and funny. Instead of photos, draw your pictures, even if you can't draw. Colorful stick figures can be pretty amusing. If your life isn't too interesting, do a fictional account of your previous year and regale your friends and family with stories about being a wealthy oil baron or an agent for the CIA. "Stealing the Pink Panther diamond had to be the highlight of my year, though lunching with the Duke of Zambia certainly ranked." Have fun with it, and watch as you get some great responses from your readers. They'll appreciate the creativity and may actually be eagerly anticipating your next year's newsletter.