Houzz Logo Print

Does anyone write a family letter?

21 years ago

Greetings to all,

I am considering writing a letter to put in our Christmas cards about all the happenings of this past year. Does anyone else do this and what kind of response do you get? What do you include in the letter? I got one last year and thought it was a good idea but have no idea what to put in it.

Can not believe I am planning Christmas stuff already :)


Comments (35)

  • the3bears_montana_com
    21 years ago

    My cousin does a christmas letter. I always love it because rather than just a card that says merry christmas I get to find out all the happenings in their life over the past year. She writes a paragraph or two about each person in her family and what has been going on with them all year (i.e kids, school, sports they are in, changes in job etc etc). She does it up on some pretty paper. Really nice. I have also seen people just put a bunch of pictures of the family throughout the year on a sheet of paper with "merry christmas or something written in the center...then have it color photo copied. Good luck!

  • woodside_accglobal_net
    21 years ago

    I personally hate those letters. It makes me feel like the person sending them does not feel it important enough to spend the time to send me a personalized letter. I would much rather like just a few lines enclosed in the card. The person I get one of those letters from is very conceited and brags about everything they have bought and everywhere they have been in the past year. I don't know...maybe its because it is a friend I am getting it from. It may be different if it was from family member so that you can understand the tone of the letter better. Sorry to be so negative.

  • Related Discussions

    does your family know about your friends?q


    Comments (18)
    NEW PLAN: Didn't get to the address book yet, but I bought Christmas cards and I'm going to re-do it as I do the cards. There are enough empty pages in the back that I should pretty much make it through the alphabet. And I'm brave enough to admit I will probably staple the old pages together and throw them in a desk drawer in case I ever wonder what street grandma used to live on. Wow, Holly, your grandmother was definitely organized. I have often thought of writing my own obituary since my husband pays no attention to what I do once I walk out the door. P.S. Sometimes I have this tiny mean streak. One day as I was leaving the house, my husband asked where my meeting was that day. This is the same meeting I have attended on the 2nd Saturday of the month for 3 or 4 years, and he can never even remember the name of the organization. I knew he had NO CLUE, so I just said "same place as always" to see if he would admit he didn't even know what city I was driving to. He just said "Oh".
    ...See More

    Anyone writing a book or short story?


    Comments (10)
    Re using names. I think you might want to use family/given names for close relations eg Grandpa Smith or Aunt Agnes as they will again anchor the information. As some of the stories might involve members of the wider community you might have to be a bit more careful with 'real' names' especially with such things as "Old Moses Brown, drunk as usual, fell off his horse into the duck pond thus disturbing the amorous goings on between Cousin Mildred and the farm-hand in a near-by hay stack " especially if the Browns are now pillars of the community who took the pledge 75 years ago and Mildred became a nun . . . but on the other hand . . . these tales when true do give colour to a community's way of life back then. Sheri's mention of a 'family tree' is good, thinking back to the times when I've read a 'family saga' and have to keep referring back to the tree to remind myself who-is-who!
    ...See More

    Open letter to anyone wanting to get a real estate license ...


    Comments (11)
    That letter is a very accurate depiction of what it's like for most people breaking into the business. A friend of mine from HS was a successful broker who needed administrative support for her office when I was home on maternity leave with my 2nd child. She offered me a part time position with very flexible hours. I was going a little stir crazy being home and it gave me the opportunity to help her out and earn some money. This was in the early '80's when the market was hopping and lots of people got licenses and dove in to reap the rewards, i ended up going from part to full time managing the office. I had a good rapport with both customers and agents and people asked me all the time why I wasn't in sales. My quick response was that with 2 little ones I needed more structured hours than sales allowed. But all the things listed in that open letter became clear to me very shortly when I began working there. i know some folks who've spent decades in the business who've ridden all the economic cycles, have had great success and good home lives. But they are people who have been extraordinarily committed to the work and they're by far the exceptions. To do well and be happy in real estate I believe you need to be extremely detail oriented AND be someone who doesn't sweat the little things. Those traits are often at odds.
    ...See More

    Please help me write this. Its just not in me.....


    Comments (90)
    Uptown Gal, I clearly stated that ALL levels of education are important. And I admire people who have the determination to go through the rigor of getting a degree. The whole of my immediate family,save my mother and myself,have bachelors degrees and some have masters. Their work is important. So is mine. I was responding to a post on which not having a degree or making a ton of money was being equated to not having basic job skills or any pride in one's work. Perhaps you missed that one. And I was giving examples of personal experience in which people surely thought themselves better than I or others simply because they have a higher education. I say this because THEY SAID THIS. The girl that is in my department says ALL THE TIME that she is overqualified because of her degree. She also says that if our department were ever eliminated (where THAT came from I dont know) she thinks the company would find her another position within the company, because she has a a degree, but she doesn't know what the rest if us will do. Even the man who needed HELP was spouting about the "slow idiots who don't know how to make a tire." I wonder if he does.... The "no common sense " comment was referring to the man who could not or would not make the connection between an infestion of a rodent and removing it's natural predator. Not you or anyone else except the person I was talking about. I do not know you and so was not talking about you and I am not sure why you think I was. I gave 3 examples of 3 specific people. And I never claimed to be more intelligent than anyone. Not sure I am the one with an anger problem. Schoolhouse, it really doesn't matter if you believe me. That doesn't change the fact that i have to deal with this headache in a mail jeep. I wish it did. If you think I am a troll then refrain from engaging with me.
    ...See More
  • phil-kelli_juno_com
    21 years ago

    Personally, I enjoy those letters. I'll admit there are times when I'd just as soon toss them without reading them, but that just depends upon who wrote them! ;)
    Sometimes it is just the only way to know what is going on with friends or family who don't live nearby or with whom you don't have the chance to communicate often.
    I have written one only once, but intend to try it again this year. Just try not to sound like you're bragging incessantly or pushing the accomplishments of your family down others' throats. I don't think that anyone intends to write an offensive letter, but that is how they sometimes come across. (I know someone who is the QUEEN of those kinds of letters!)
    I don't know about you, but my Christmas card list has more than 80 names and addresses (including business associates of my husband's, to whom I do not send letters) and it would be virtually impossible to write a personal letter to each of them. I do jot a line or two of greeting in each card to personalize it somewhat.

  • Diane_from_VA
    21 years ago

    As much as I would rather get a personalized letter, I'd rather get a form letter than nothing at all! LOL! Although, I do hate the ones that are 2 solid pages, single space, me me me me me

    What I do, and what I'd be :) to help you with, is make a newsletter instead of writing a letter. I use funny headlines, clip art, and very short "articles", with only one being close to 200 words. the rest are between, say 30-50 words.

    I read in FAMILY FUN magazine last year, that if you can focus on what you learned or what you thought, that's better than what you DID, b/c it tells more about you.

    I have a friend who saved the best things her kids said all year, and included a list of those. They were roll-on-the-floor funny!

    I wrote about our son being born, that we had gone from "man to man" defense to a "zone" defense (from 2 kids to 3)...and that there was no truth to the rumor that a player to be named later was expected (well, of course, now there is! LOL!)

    I wrote about the births of my last 2 children in a Catholic hospital, and being afraid, but turning to my faith to support me (that, and a good epidural!)

    I wrote about Molly in school.

    I'd be :) to send you a copy, if you have MS PUBLISHER. If you have pub, i can send it to you that way. If you don't, then I can just copy the articles into WORD so you can read them.

  • CRAFTYPATTY2001_yahoo_com
    21 years ago

    i personally hate those letters. they are so tacky either they are bsing or they're just plain bragging that their lives are so good. it's not as good as a personal letter or just a note, even.

  • shean5
    21 years ago

    Just don't brag too much. I love these letters, much better that just a card w/a signature. I write it in verse-Like the "Night Before Christmas"

  • sharla_primenet_com
    21 years ago

    Just keep them short. Sometimes (hate to say this!) I don't even really read them because I see this LONG letter and have so many things to do at that time of year. You might want to write a couple different versions depending on who you're sending them to. In some you could be a little more detailed, but others (who you only send cards to once a year) could be short & sweet.

  • Jennifer_
    21 years ago

    I have been writing letters to include in our Christmas, Easter and Valentine's Day cards for the past 4 years. At that time, we moved 1,300 miles from an area our families had lived in since the 1600's. Needless to say we left behind family and many friends. It is impossible to call everyone each week and fill them in on how our lives are going so I highlight the major events in our lives in these letters.
    I type a different letter for my family in which I recall fond memories of Christmas' past which is read to all the family by my Aunt when all the family, minus us, get together over the holidays.
    We send about 75 cards at Christmas and each one gets a personal note along with their letter so it is more personal. I also include a school picture of our daughter's and also one of the four of us together.
    After the holidays we receive many nice notes from almost everyone telling us about their past year and they say how much the look forward to receiving our family letter at the holidays.

  • slprice_cityofbryan_net
    21 years ago

    We do one every year because we do not have tim to write everyone. I probaby would just send a card. I know some people hate them but oh well. I tell what grade my son is in and what sport or ect. he is in and alittle bit about both families(like brother and sisters family) everyone looks for it each year. We didn't do one the year before last and evryone was upset. I hope I don't brag. We don't have alot of money so I don't have alot to brag about.

  • Cuz1
    21 years ago

    I don't send them but I sure do get a lot of them..It's the thing to do...I don't think people mean to be bragging but it just sounds that way cause its a letter of good cheer... no one is going to drive me nuts, hate my job, wish i had more money, etc etc ,( ya know what I mean other words complain in their christmas note....I guess I would vote that I like getting them..cuz

  • athena308_yahoo_com
    21 years ago

    Thank you all for the great feedback. I am leaning towards writing one, maybe this year I will send it only to close relatives and friends.
    I will try not to brag,
    We don't have a lot, but like what we have.
    Letter won't be (too many pages) long.
    I will read yours if you read mine.
    I will corrrect as many missstakes as I can found.

    That concludes the rules.
    >chuckling to selfChristine

  • jannasp_yahoo_com
    21 years ago

    I read an interesting variation on this,

    From a couple that likes to cook, and is always experimenting with new things, each year, they put together a small collection of recipes that they tried and liked throughout the year, and send them to family and friends. Not really the thing to send to business associates, but a fun way to let people close to you get a peep at what you do in your spare time.

    I have one cousin who does the letter thing, and while I like her, it's a bit over the top. Someone in that family is always traveling cross-country, studying in France, or otherwise living way too interesting a life. :)

    But a friend of mine also does the letter thing, and it's very down to earth and fun. I always get the feeling she's sitting right there, and just talking about her year. I save all her letters.

  • woodside_accglobal_net
    21 years ago

    I LOVE the newletter and recipe sharing ideas. Like I said earlier, i really do not like getting the generalized letter but these ideas are unique. i personally do have have type to make a newsletter but may use the recipe idea when i send to family members because I know who those are that like to cook.

    21 years ago

    my husbands half sister which we just became close after his father died couple years ago did up a really cute one that i still have in my mind. twas the night before christmas when all through the house and then it rymed all the way through it as to what the kids had done over the last year etc. and her and her husband. i know i kept it but i don't know where it's at right now. i would rather get a form letter than nothing at all than a card wrote with peoples names on it. i personally write a family letter and send it with a picture and give update what have been doing all year long. some poeple i only write to once a year and it's during the holidays.

  • cjpiepho_yahoo_com
    21 years ago

    I try to do something a little more unique than just writing a Christmas letter. Several years ago I rewrote "Twas the Night Before Christmas" summarizing the year's happenings. Last year I rewrote the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas". If you need any more information regarding these ideas, let me know.

  • ECAT77_aol_com
    21 years ago

    "Several years ago I rewrote "Twas the Night Before Christmas" summarizing the year's happenings "

    I love this idea but have no talent with rhyming...
    How about some tips for people like me???
    thanks so much!

  • mfriner_ukans_edu
    21 years ago

    I got a letter one year from a friend who wrote it from their pets perspective. It was cute. I agree the key is to keep it to 1 page and the basics. I wouldn't send one to everyone on my list only those I know will be interested.

  • whazzup
    21 years ago

    I have been getting one of these letters every Christmas for the past few years from someone I went to high school with. How she got my address I'll never know. We were not friends in high school, just casual acquaintances. Why in the world she thinks I would be interested in hearing about her son's braces, her daughters soccer team, her husband's promotion, I'll never know. I think it's rude and pretentious to assume that I am interested in these people whom I don't even know. The better idea is to send personal notes to those close to you. IMO the holiday letter is a waste of paper. I'm sorry if this hurts the feelings of those of you who send them out, but I am telling you what your friends won't tell you!

  • skr_cyberspc_ca
    21 years ago

    I hate the family brag sheets. Honestly, I don't even read them.

    One year we did a newsletter and got really positive feedback. We used a lot of the ideas people mentioned above. What we did was collected little snippets and anecdotes from many different family members and put those in. That made it more of a family event, not just all about us. We included recipes, Christmas trivia, jokes that were submitted, etc. We made sure to leave lots of space and graphics so it didn't seem too overwhelming to read.

    Our first "article" was a little blurb about other uses for the newsletter if you really aren't interested in reading it.

    I also made sure to write a short personal note in each and every Christmas card. (I do think that's the whole point of sending Christmas cards!)

    I heard from a lot of people that they enjoyed reading the newsletter, but was always okay with the idea that others would toss it. No big deal to me.

    It was a lot of work, and although others have asked if we'd do it again, so far we haven't had the time or energy.

  • Gail_in_NC
    21 years ago

    This is one thread I had to respond to! I hate the newsletters I have received in the past! (Some are from friends, some from family.) Are all their lives so sunshiny perfect? (ski trips, kids on A honor roll, husbands promotion, plans to retire at 40) It can make the receiver feel terrible about their life especially if they have had a bad or difficult year. I know from experience! I use to tease and say I was going to write a REAL newsletter to everyone!!!! I could include the details of my oldest sons tickets and how my insurance was popping through the roof, how my daughter ran up the phone bill to $600.00 calling the physic Hotline!!!! I think you get the idea. I'd feel like such a hypocrate just speaking of all the good things and forgetting to let everyone know I was a "real" person trying to raise 4 children (widowed) and a ski trip would be great but my daughters braces were costing $3500 so maybe next year!!!! LOL

    With the tragic events that have taken place this year I think a newsletter that dealt with the appreciation of life and family would be something I could read and truely relate too. :)


  • emma81399_aol_com
    21 years ago

    i have thought about doing a monthy newsletter on my 2 yr. old for the family that lives far away and even for some of the family around here that seem him almost every day. i was going to include some pictures and some of his new words, or funny things he has done the past month or so. i agree that the bragging thing would be a little annoying also. maybe you could just do it for younger children, and the older ones you could have write it themself. maybe they could write some things that they are thankful for and a "non-bragging" type of current events. or maybe you could have the kids do some type of artwork on it. just an idea. i know that i like the idea of the newsletter b/c most of our family lives out of town and those long distance phone calls can be pricey.

  • Craftie_T
    21 years ago

    It depends on the letter...One of my sisters sends one every year that is all about "bragging"....HATE THOSE!...But then I've had ones that were very thoughtful...LOVED THOSE!
    I read a "Miss Manners" colum once where she talked about these letters...She hates them!...But she had one very good point....If the person receiving the letter couldn't care less about what you have written...then don't send them one.
    Had to give my two cence!

  • waycoolcrafts_hotmail_com
    21 years ago

    Tracy has a good point. The quality and type of letter you write determines how people receive it. Although as you can see by the posts, we are opinionated about our mail. I had to write this type of letter for my 96 year old Mom who could not write cards herself. She told me what she wanted to say and I composed a family letter to send to all. If we could not send that type of letter, it would have probably been none at all.
    I am always grateful to hear from people that I do not hear from very often.
    Just enjoy the letters. Please appreciate being remembered during the busy holidays. After all it IS the thought that counts.

  • karens8888_aol_com
    21 years ago

    There are two family members that we get cards from. Each has the name embossed on them without anything else. I would much rather receive a mass generated letter about what is going on in their lives than nothing. As far as I am concerned they can save the price of the card and postage.

  • tinynedl
    21 years ago

    I like hearing what's going on with friends and family, but also dislike the boasty ones. If all the people that write about their perfect lives were being honest, we'd live in a Utopian Society, right? I write a short update on the past year, but I tell the truth, as if I were talking to the readers in my home-- they get the bad with the good. I only send the letter to people that care, anyway, and they always say they enjoy them. As others have said, I'd rather get the form letter than just a signature, but the important thing is to stay in touch, by whatever means.

  • christiehartner_yahoo_com
    21 years ago

    I send out a letter every year and always get a postive feedback on it. I ryhme each line telling about my dh, dd and myself and the years happenings. I get one from a friend that is a total brag letter. One year she wrote it from her kids perspective and it was stupid. I don't brag, just let them know what has been happening in our life. Like dh is still driving a truck, dd is talking more and more and yes, she is driving me nuts (I say that with love). lol Our family and friends love the fact that it ryhmes. At the end I always write something like.. "Now that you have read about our past year from winter through fall, I am ending this letter by praying for your family, GOD BLESS YOU ALL!" I like to end with a blessing. I think that if the letter is a bit catching, it is more fun to read. I will have people call after recieving it just to tell me how neat it was...oops, now that's bragging. sorry lol

  • LYNN3521_aol_com
    21 years ago

    I agree about the bragging, lay off that unless you know the person receiving it will be thrilled to hear all that stuff, like a parent, grandparent etc. The bragging can be a little much for some people in those letter. Not telling about their Life that much but their superior accomplishments.

    Maybe send the Grandmother the "Braggy" letter if she lives far off and doesn't already know about the accomplishments of the kids, or you. Some siblings may feel a "Braggy letter" about your child is like comparing them to their own children> So, think about that and maybe make the letter not so braggy.

    There is nothing more unsettling than a relative that goes on and on about each accomplishment of their child- It can get downright tacky!

  • disneygirlnh_yahoo_com
    21 years ago

    OK...we do a family newsletter every year. We have named it The Eden examiner after the street we live on. each family member ( including the pets) are listed with a "staff" position. Example: editor- MOM. each of us writes a column about the year gone by with a catchy title ( we each also thank those in our life that have made the past year a little brighter----people love that). We have a space for births and deaths ( typically animals that share our lives), real estate ( we bought a house two years ago, have rental property and are selling another this year---in the years we were house hunting, we reported that), travel section and sports ( things the kids are involved in)....we have gotten excellent feedback....... I LOVE getting these letters. I hate getting cards that have only a signature. In addition to our newsletter, we have the picture Christmas picture cards made and I write a personal message to each person I send to. There are so many creative ways to do this, and I don't think a little bragging hurts once in awhile. A whole year is a lot of work for a family, and it is important to relish the successes......of course, there is a point when it gets too much, but hey it is Christmas!!!!!

  • SusieBee
    21 years ago

    I despise those things. With a passion.

    I know they are sent with decent intentions, but I wish people who send them would get a clue. A humble nature is not a terribly difficult thing to adopt.

    Perhaps 9/11/01 will help put a little perspective on these newsletters.

    I just REALLY dislike those things!


  • Woofermama
    21 years ago

    I write family letters, and I do try to focus on the positive things that have happened during the year. So I suppose to some people that might sound like bragging. But during the holidays, if we were to visit on the phone or in person, I'd be "saying" the same things! Positive reflections on the past year, those happenings, instances, occurrances, etc., that I'm thankful for.

    I don't have a life that's any better than anyone else's. One year in particular the husband was out of work, one of the kids got picked up for shoplifting, daughter had moved far away ... but there was no possible way that I was going to whine and complain about what I was going through. Everybody has their own hardships to bear. I refuse to focus on that, especially during the time of year when I am so grateful for what my God has given me ... including the strength to bear what I'd rather not face.

    I think people enjoy reading the good things, I know I do.

  • tomsmom22
    21 years ago

    Personally, I think that everyone should already know which family members really "care" about your kids and so forth, and you should make it a point to let them know what's going on. Especially, with relatives and friends that you don't see that often. I write letters to lots of people, but I spend forever writing out individual cards. If I'm going to spend the money for cards and the money for stamps I may as well make it worth it. One year, we had lots to write about, new house, new car, and it was our son's 2nd Christmas even though he still didn't understand the whole Santa thing...some years, not much has changed so I just let my little boy, "write" or draw in the card and that thrills everyone. I put a little caption in as to what the drawing was supposed to be and they get a kick out of it.

    I see nothing wrong with a family letter, but you should at least individualize, with names or nicknames of who you are sending it to. My opinion anyway...Michelle

  • Karen_CA
    21 years ago

    I do enjoy these letters. One we receive always has a few snapshots taken through the year xeroxed onto the letter. We've watched some of our friends' children grow up this way. With so many of our college friends living far away, this is a nice way to keep up with them. Once, our nephew and his wife wrote a really cute letter from the perspective of their 4-month old daughter and how she was running things now was very creative and cute. Another, from a friend who had been our children's teacher in grade school, reads like a travelogue ...always very interesting with some tongue-in-cheek humor. I'm actually disappointed if I get a card without a letter from someone who usually writes one. When we do ours, I always add a personal line or two at the bottom as I put them in the cards. With as much as we're all spending on stamps, I think it's nice to also hear what's going on in each others' lives.

  • Mapleskin
    21 years ago

    What do you think of this idea? Write the info in a question answer form like this. Make it funny and get all the news in that way.

    Where did the Smith's move to this past September?
    A. Venus C. Canton, Mi
    B. Looney bin D. Afghanistan

    How much bribe money did it cost Mary to get Steven to ride the Millenium Force at Cedar Point?
    A. $5 C. $50
    B. $10 D. Nothing (no amount of money was going to get him up there)

    What do the Smiths wish for all their family and friends?
    A. A Very Merry Christmas C. Peace and Joy
    B. A Happy New Year D. All of the above

  • Julie_MI_Z5
    21 years ago

    Thanks for the laugh this morning.... I just found this site and chuckled over the family letter idea.

    We get them, read most, and have a contest at work to see who gets the overall worst. They seem to come in two versions: Bragging, and List of Illnesses (that once from my aunt and uncle). Oh--and this year's gem: a letter from allegedly close friends telling about their parties we weren't invited to!

    To me it would be far better to type up one holiday letter, then at least personalize it for each recipient and ask about THEIR family by name, etc.

    Always remember that the holiday season is not always happy for everyone. Somehow I doubt that, for example, a friend who has had a death in the family this year will care too much about the play-by-play from my son's baseball game last June, no matter how great he played.

    Julie in Michigan--and the phones in the neighborhood were ringing last week when the Christmas letters came from goofy neighbors that moved away last summer! LOL

  • julie_va
    21 years ago

    I am a secret tacky-Christmas-letter lover. When we get one where all the writer does is brag, I laugh and find it entertaining. Also feel a little pity for the poor souls who are in such denial of the real world. I really do enjoy hearing about people's lives. Some friends of my husband (people I have never met) send letters and now I feel I know them personally. We started writing one about 6 years ago when we had a disaster home problem (broke in half, condemned. sorry wrong forum) and everyone wanted to know every year how it, and the law suit was progressing. I got so tired of writing all the details over and over (especially because I have arthritis in my hands) so I just typed it all up, added a little info on our work, told about the dog's activities and sent it on. The first year, I changed the name at top and added a personalized paragraph, but since I print it out at work (sshhh) and use fancy Hallmark paper, it was taking up a lot of time. So now I do the tacky-Christmas-form-letter and hand write a small personal note. This way I can go in to work early one day and run them off before anyone knows. I absolutely hate getting a card from someone with just their names written on it. Even worse is the name stamped on it with my name and address typed on a computer label. I feel like I am just a nuisance that people feel need to be taken care of and do it in the quickest, less painful way possible. I am also very busy but start at Halloween and address just 1 or 2 a day. It's easier to add a personalized note when that person is the only one I need to think of that day.