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How to Write a Good, Short Family Christmas Newsletter

Updated on December 14, 2014

Christmas Card Collage

Artistic treatments of a pile of Christmas cards plus the beginning words of the annual letter.
Artistic treatments of a pile of Christmas cards plus the beginning words of the annual letter. | Source

Annual Christmas Newsletter Meets Need

Many of us count on the winter holiday season to get updated on distant friends’ lives. Somehow, somewhere, the photocopied “Christmas newsletter” took the place of personal handwritten notes inside Christmas cards. Although the newsletter phenomenon has been mocked and dissected on TV, in newspaper advice columns, and in comedy clubs – it meets a need, and that is why we still write them.

Here is how to share news succinctly and tastefully without becoming the subject of behind-the-back derision.


Yes, your Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Holiday buddies DO care about you and your family. They DO want to know, generally, how things are with you. However, if they wanted a condensed diary of major events in each of the last twelve months, they probably would have phoned or emailed you before now. Thus, you should choose 2 or 3 news items about each family member and stop at that.

Upbeat (even the bad news)

Bad things happen to good people. In your annual letter, you can share important downturn sort of news, but it should be put into “code.” Good or neutral “spin doctoring” is what the recipients want.

What you say and what it means – SPIN CODE

I will use the pronouns Hubby, Wife, Son, Daughter, Grandkid in my examples. Obviously, you use their real names.

Hubby is exploring new career paths.

Hubby got laid off by that skunky company he gave his heart to.

Son now living in Nebraska (different state) so we don’t see him as often as we’d like, but he is doing ok.

Son is in prison/ halfway house/ rehab.

Wife watches grandkids 4 days a week.

Son and Daughter-in-law can’t afford childcare and barely can afford groceries.

Exciting news: We are expecting our first (or whatever number) grandchild in March.

Stupid daughter got knocked up.

We moved in with our parents to help out.

Parents are helping US by letting us move in with them when the bank foreclosed on our home.

Daughter visited in June and it was good to see her. We think she finally has her life together.

Daughter came asking for money. We think she stole our silver, but we can’t prove it. She is probably violating parole, too.

I am getting more exercise – walking almost every day.

With the price of gasoline, I walk to a bus stop to go to work, instead of driving.

Telling about Illness

You do not need to code serious illness of a loved one, but it should be briefly stated. It is ok to ask for prayers or positive thoughts. Also, don’t use the word “brave.” Examples:

Hubby will have fifth round of chemo for his cancer. He is still enjoying crossword puzzles. All prayers welcomed.

Daughter recovering from car accident – medical team pleased that she will walk again.

Son and daughter-in-law had stillborn child; please keep them in your thoughts.

Is it menopause or Alzheimer’s? Mom is a challenge, but we are glad she is still here.

No Big Brags, please!

This is the biggest challenge for some folks. They just l-u-v to rub it in your face. But, yes, please do share good news – weddings, the vacation of a lifetime, healthy children and grandchildren, new home, new pet, child making a team or getting into college. Just limit it to one phrase or sentence. This is a news-letter, not a news-paper!

Start and end with general greeting and wishes

Opening line possibilities: “How quickly the year flew by. The winter holidays are here again! We hope this finds you and yours well.”

End: “ We wish a blessed and prosperous Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Christmas time to you and a healthy and wonderful year in _____ (fill in the year number.)”

Get writing!

Time to write that newsletter, copy it, and send it out. Your friends want to hear from you.

Happy Holidays!

Photo and text copyright 2012 Maren E. Morgan.


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